Maybe today isn’t one of your most stressful days (and maybe it is) here to let you give you some small, practical steps you can take to cope with that stress and stay healthy.
But first, why am I talking about stress? The truth is that it sure is super important to acknowledge stress so you can reduce it or cope with it a little better. Think of it like aiming for a 1% improvement….you may not be able to change the stressors in your life, but if you can manage the impact on your body 1% better, then you’ll stay healthier and more able to handle the stress.
Worthwhile? Totally! And here are just a few reasons why you need to be paying attention.
● Stress increases cortisol production associated with weight gain (especially in the belly), an inability to lose weight or gain muscle and premature aging
● Stress decreases nutrient absorption due to decreased enzymatic production from the stomach, pancreas and liver and decreased bile flow from the gall bladder
● Stress increases nutrient excretion such as urinary loss of calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, chromium, selenium and microminerals
● Stress decreases gut flora populations by destroying healthy intestinal bacteria and can lead to immune problems, skin disorders, nutrient deficiencies, and digestive distress
● Stress increases emotional eating
● Stress increases salt retention which can lead to high blood pressure
● Stress decreases the thyroid hormone which can negatively affect your metabolism
● Stress decreases sex hormones which leads to loss of libido and low energy
So how can you reduce or cope better with stress? Remember, since we can’t always control the stress in our lives, the goal is to reduce our experience of stress by even 1%. Here’s how you can do that, starting NOW:
● Look at your calendar for the next 7 days. What’s one activity you’ve committed to that you can cancel?
●Find a quiet place, set your timer on your phone for 3-5 minutes, close your eyes and just focus on a 5-5-7 breath. Inhale for a count of 5, hold your breath for a count of 5, then exhale for a count of 7. Repeat at least 3 times.
● Look at your to-do list. What’s one item you can delegate to someone else in the next 24 hours?
● Consider your schedule today. Where can you fit in 20 minutes for yourself —where you’re not taking care of anyone else or being “productive”—so you can just relax and play and do something mindless?
● Look at your calendar for tomorrow. Where can you fit in a 10-minute walk or Frisbee toss in your backyard? The fresh air and movement will help you cope waaay better with stress.
● Before your next meal, try the what 5-5-7 breath. This gives your body a chance to relax before your meal, which will increase your digestive capacity and help your body pull more nutrients from the food you’re eating.
What do I do now? Make de-stressing a priority. Want to take it to the next level? Meditate. There are tons of free meditations- short and long on YouTube as well as dozens of apps. Take some time and find one that is a fit for your lifestyle. If you are constantly stressed it’s only a matter of time before it will make you sick.
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