If you often feel overwhelmed by stress and anxiety, it can take a toll on your mind and body. Stress, including digestion, nervous system, sleep patterns, and overall well being, can harm our body. So, it’s important to adopt strategies to manage or reduce stress for overall health.
In this article, we’ll explore what we can do to combat stress holistically through lifestyle and dietary changes.
How Do Our Bodies React to Stress?
When faced with stressful situations, our nervous system and adrenal glands alert our body to ready itself for a reaction. The symptoms we notice during stress – like a racing heart or rapid breathing – can be understood as natural reactions intended to ensure our survival. Historically, our inherent ‘fight or flight’ mechanism was vital when confronting immediate threats to our existence.
Yet, in today’s world, where such life or death threats are fairly uncommon, daily challenges like relationship conflicts, traffic delays, or demanding children can activate this flight or fight reflex. Repeated exposure to these stress inducers magnifies our natural responses, leading to persistent unease. Without adequate lifestyle adjustments to counteract and ‘release’ the aftereffects of these stress responses, accumulated stress can become a serious health concern.
The Connection Between Stress and Diet
The relationship between diet and stress has been well-established. An individual who maintains a well-balanced and nutritious diet will often experience less stress than someone with an unhealthy diet. This highlights the importance of incorporating healthy eating habits into our daily routine to reduce stress levels.
Holistic Approaches for Reducing Stress
If you are under stress, your digestion may be impacted. Adjusting your diet can help improve your physical and emotional wellbeing.
Avoid Meal Gaps
Eat balanced meals regularly, and snack on wholesome foods when needed to boost energy and curb fatigue and mood swings. Discover ways to sustain your energy and elevate vitality through mindful eating.
Eliminate Highly Processed Carbs
Foods like white bread, pasta, sugary treats, or those with added sugars fall into this category. Hidden sugars may lurk in cereals, canned goods, or pre-packaged foods. Take time to learn about the effects of sugar and top up on low-sugar snack options.
Limit Your Caffeine Consumption
While tea and coffee offer a short-lived energy spike, excess consumption can diminish long-term energy and nutrient levels. Strive for 1-1.5 liters of purified water daily, opt for herbal or fruit teas over caffeinated beverages. Discover hydration essentials, daily water recommendations, and the pros and cons of caffeinated beverages.
Watch out for Emotional Eating
Beyond mere nourishment, food resonates with our emotions and societal bonds. Under stress, many gravitate towards food, possibly indulging in binge eating or unwise choices. Stress can cause bloating and discomfort by diverting blood from digestion.
Lifestyle Changes to Combat Stress
Fortunately, a myriad of lifestyle changes can mitigate the effects of stress, including:
- Quality Sleep: Ideally, 7-8 hours nightly
- Outdoor Activities: Reap countless benefits of fresh air and nature
- Consistent, mild exercise: Alleviates stress and counters negative feelings. However, intense workouts may be counterproductive for those with depleted adrenal hormones. Determine what works best for you.
- Regular relaxation: Reading, taking a bath, massages, or listening to music can be immensely therapeutic
- Meditation: An effective mental balm, it’s cost-free and can be practiced anytime, anywhere
- Yoga: Integrates exercise with meditation to rejuvenate both body and mind
- Counseling: This is particularly useful for individuals dealing with intense stress
What Dietary Measures Can Help With Stress?
Chronic stress can compromise our immune system, making individuals more prone to illnesses and infections. If someone already under stress falls sick, their body is further burdened.
To combat this, consider integrating these stress-relieving foods into your daily meals:
Persistent stress heightens the body’s protein requirement. Additionally, protein-rich meals help modulate sugar release, promoting stable blood sugar levels. Prioritize sources like lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, nuts, and seeds every meal.
Fruits & Vegetables
A diet rich in fruit and veggies provides essential vitamins and minerals, especially important when stress depletes these resources faster than usual. Strive for at least five servings daily, emphasizing those rich in vitamins B, C, and magnesium.
Regular snacking on fruits, raw veggies, yogurt, nuts, and seeds ensures stable blood sugar and efficient metabolism. Especially on tense days, frequent and nutritious meals help avoid energy slumps. Stress might cause some to skip meals, leading them towards unhealthy food choices when hunger does strike.
Whole foods like whole grain bread, pasta, oats, and brown rice can elevate serotonin, the chemical responsible for uplifting moods. Maintaining serotonin levels can counter anxiety, depression, and disrupted sleep. These carbs digest slower than their refined counterparts, aiding blood sugar stability.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)
EFAs are crucial for overall bodily functions, especially brain health. EFAs, specifically Omega 3 and 6, counteract the impacts of both emotional and physical stress by reducing the release of glucocorticoids during stressful times. Incorporate oily fish, nuts, and seeds into your meals to ensure a balanced intake.
Studies indicate that calcium can alleviate symptoms like muscle cramps and heightened anxiety. Incorporate foods rich in calcium, such as low-fat dairy, sesame seeds, kelp, leafy greens, and broccoli, preferably in the evening to aid absorption.
Consider Stress Busting Supplements
While supplements may not offer a complete cure for stress, they can assist the body in mitigating the toll that stress can take. Here’s a list of some commonly recommended natural supplements:
- Ashwagandha: Recognized as an adaptogen, it can help stabilize the body’s physiological processes and reduce the effects of stress.
- L-Theanine: Found primarily in tea leaves, this amino acid can promote relaxation without causing drowsiness.
- Rhodiola Rosea: An adaptogen herb used traditionally in various cultures, it’s known to enhance energy, mood, and focus.
- Valerian Root: Often utilized as a sleep aid, valerian can help alleviate insomnia often associated with stress.
- Magnesium: This essential mineral supports many functions in the body and can contribute to relaxation, making it beneficial for those under stress.
- Adrenal Support Supplements: These are specially formulated to nourish and support adrenal gland function, which can be compromised during prolonged periods of stress.
Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you’re on medication or have underlying health conditions.
Happy Hormone Cottage Helps Treat Patients Holistically
Taking a functional medicine approach, Happy Hormone Cottage focuses specifically on clients needing holistic approaches to stress relief. This includes considering the balance of sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
We also factor in thyroid and cortisol levels, ensuring a comprehensive approach rather than treating these issues in isolation, as is often the case with conventional medicine.
Additionally, we assist patients requiring liver detoxification or those experiencing poor gut health. Our goal is to consult, test, and then formulate a simple, effective treatment plan that promotes an overall sense of well-being.
Holistic Stress Relief Strategies Available In Centerville, Ohio
If you’re seeking a functional medicine approach to natural stress relief, consider Happy Hormone Cottage. Our primary objective is to enhance patient outcomes and foster positive transformations in all of our patients’ lives.
We are eager to celebrate your success and promise to accompany you on every step of your journey towards achieving holistic well-being!
Reach out to us for a chat or book a consultation online today!