Recently, after the occurrence of several threatening hurricanes, I have had several coaching calls relating to stress eating and how to deal with falling off a committed routine of living a healthy lifestyle.
Although many people get down on themselves, it is important not to let self-doubt get in the way of picking yourself back up and living life to your fullest potential.
It’s important to understand how our brain and body collaborate in an attempt to deal with stress. When we are under stress, our brain tells our bodies to put out more stress hormones, such as cortisol.
Cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands (small endocrine glands that rest above the kidneys) in higher levels during the body’s response to stress. Cortisol has many important roles in the body to help our body manage stress.
When we are under prolonged periods of stress, our cortisol levels do not return to normal levels and can result in increased visceral fat, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure.
On a daily basis, we can be stressed by jobs, relationships, raising children, finances… even weather! It is very common for us to mask our emotions such as fear and anxiety with food.
Preparation is key to being successful! Hurricane Irma which just recently passed over many Islands and the state of Florida continuing up the East coast of the United States caused serious destruction in its path and raised high levels of stress for so many not knowing her exact path!
I witnessed food stores wiped out of so much food, yet when I went to the healthier sections, there were still many options. It’s important to avoid sweets, fatty temptations, and pre-packaged foods.
We help our bodies feel their best by fueling them with whole foods that will give us energy. We are more likely to shut off the stress response quicker and feel better about ourselves when we make the right selections.
A bowl of ice cream or a bag of chips will only make you feel good for a short time leaving you dissatisfied with your decisions after and in turn, will not help you manage the amount of stress you are under.
Our daily nutritional intake plays a big role on how we feel throughout the day. There are several great selections of snacks that will keep you feeling full and satisfy your cravings.
I have included my top 10
- Celery with almond butter (dry roasted almonds as the only ingredient)
- Unsalted nuts
- Peppers & or cucumbers with hummus
- Veggie omelet
- Homemade baked sweet potato fries with coconut oil and nutmeg
- Roasted chickpeas
- Granny Smith apples
- Beanitos chips (bean chips – gluten and corn free) with guacamole or salsa
- Mixed berries
- Protein balls ( I use my own recipe packed with healthy seeds like chia, hemp, and flax seeds )
Serotonin, a major mood neurotransmitter in our brain, plays a large role as well on whether we are happy or feeling blue. Research has shown links of serotonin affecting our mood, social behaviour, memory, sleep, sexual desire, appetite and digestion.
Although there needs to be more research, we can definitely help boost* our moods naturally.
Shut the refrigerator door and try my top 10 ways to cope with stress and change your mood:
Exercise is a sure way to improve* your mental health and relieve stress. Find time to fit exercise into your daily routine, and you are sure to have a better mood.
Do what makes you happy whether it be hitting the gym, taking a Zumba class, going for a swim, riding a bike… there are so many options to keep you going strong.
Get out in the sun and have some fun. Our body produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D is essential for bone health. It regulates our blood calcium levels as well as regulating cell differentiation and growth.
Many studies confirm that sunlight can help alleviate depression. Just a few minutes a day can brighten up your day.
Studies have shown that yoga can help improve* your mood and quality of life by reducing* your heart rate, lowering your blood pressure, and easing your respiration.
There are many different types from gentle to the more challenging for you to find one that excites you. The breathing techniques along with stretching are great for your mind and body.
Who doesn’t love a nice relaxing massage? A therapeutic massage can reduce* anxiety and stress while relaxing your muscle tissues and mind.
With so many choices from Swedish, Stone, Deep Tissue, Aromatherapy, and my favourite the Hawaiian Lomi Lomi you will find one that puts a smile on your face!
Reading can help improve* your quality of life by reducing* stress, enhancing* your intelligence, improve* your thinking, vocabulary, and writing skills. You can find a book on any topic that excites you.
My personal favourite – self-development books. I recommend “You Are A Badass” – Jen Sincero
6. Listening to Music
As Taylor Swift sings “Shake It Off” music can be a great tool to soothe our soul, shake off a bad day, and calm our emotions. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams is another favourite to not let anything bring you down.
Whatever your favourite genre of music is, singing, dancing, or just relaxing and listening to music will help boost* your mood.
7. Reduce* caffeine intake / have a cup of decaf herbal tea
Coffee and other caffeinated beverages increase* levels of cortisol and intensify your response to stress. Too much caffeine can lead to a rapid heartbeat and spike your blood pressure.
Try replacing your caffeinated beverages with a cup of herbal decaf tea. Look for teas containing peppermint, chamomile, and or passion flower to help reduce* stress.
Centering your thoughts and meditating will promote your health by reducing* the effects of stress on your mind and body. If you are new to meditation, I highly recommend a short guided meditation to get you started.
My favourite – “Abundance Meditation” by Bob Proctor
– Letting out our creativity and self-expression out can lower our stress levels and improve* our state of mind. Artistic or not, there are many options like colouring, making a collage, creating vision boards, taking a ceramic class…
I love doing a “Paint Night” class where we are guided by a teacher to help bring out our creativity.
There are many benefits of a great sex life. It’s great for your heart! Intimacy can boost* self-esteem, and happiness while lowering stress levels, helping you sleep better and improving* your mood.
There are links to healthy sex lives and low blood pressure. Frequent orgasms can improve* your mental health and brain functions while the spiritual and therapeutic aspect of connecting with your loved one will improve* your mood.
The fact is that stress does a lot of damage to our bodies. Chronic stress can alter blood sugar levels, worsen irritable bowel syndrome, decrease* the body’s immune system response to infection, causes abdominal fat to accumulate, raise our blood pressure, and the list goes on.
Stress eating only adds to more stress. We have to learn to be kind to ourselves and make time to take care of ourselves. Choose your fuel/food wisely. It’s only human to have a “treat* day” once in a while.
Remember why you started, and get back on track! Most importantly, find time to live, laugh, and love every day!
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