Combat stress through better nutrition!

We will all experience stress to some degree through our lives, some more than others. We have developed various coping strategies to deal with stress, some effective, some less so. Some of us exercise, while others listen to music. Some people like to take time out for a hobby, or to play with their children. We have to accept that stress is all around us, in our work lives, at home, in our relationships. Some people are innately and genetically better at dealing with stress. Others can teach and train themselves to handle stress more efficiently, what most people don’t realise is the right food choices can dramatically assist the body in better handling stress.Stress

Therefore, we have more control over stress than we might realise; that’s good news!!

We have total control over what we put in our bodies, typically when people are stressed they make bad nutritional choices such as caffeine, alcohol and fast foods. Every cell in the body needs good nutrition to work optimally; stress depletes the body of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. It can degrade digestive function and slows the metabolism resulting in you feeling more tried, irritable and angry. Very quickly we can see a vicious circle beginning where we make poor choices which will compound our ability to deal with the stressful situation in the first place.

The hormonal chaos prolonged stress causes can increase your risk of blood sugar problems, high blood pressure, fatigue and weight gain. A well-balanced diet is crucial in combating stress.  Stay away from the usual culprit’s caffeine, alcohol, salty foods, fatty foods, sugar, refined and processed foods.

When the body is under stress, it has been proven that he body uses up its resources until they are bare.

The following are the main nutrients that he body will use up under stress:

  • B vitamins: These help the body cope with stress (build your metabolism) and control the whole nervous system
  • Proteins: Assist in growth and tissue repair
  • A vitamins: Essential for normal vision
  • C vitamins: Protection of the immune system (antioxidants, diabetes protection etc.). Lowers the amount of cortisol in your body (Stress hormone
  • Magnesium: Needed for a variety of tasks such as muscle relaxation, fatty acid formation, making new cells and heartbeat regulation.

source: http://www.stress.org.uk/files/Combat-Nutritional-Stress.pdf

Let’s take a look at some stress reducing foods:fruits-and-veggies

Celery– contains nutrients that clam, including niacinimide. It’s an old folk recipe to lower blood pressure.

Sunflower seeds – rich source of potassium, B Vitamins and zinc which play a critical role in the health of the adrenal glands.

Brown rice is a slowly absorbed carbohydrate that can help trigger the release of the body’s feel good chemicals

Cabbage is a good stress busting source of the antioxidants vitamins A, C and E, beta-carotene and mineral selenium

Berries – are rich in magnesium and vitamin C. Insufficient vitamin C can weaken your immune system and make you feel generally stressed and run down.

 

Read more stress busting foods in – “You are what you eat” by Dr Gillian McKeith

 

I personally used to juice for 8 years after learning just how important a good diet rich in fruits and vegetables is to keep us performing at our top-level. The effects of stress on the body should not be underestimated, I was very fortunate to be introduced to a whole food nutrition supplement which is the essence of 26 fruits, vegetables and berries which I take every day; I have said goodbye to time consuming, messy juicing! For more information visit www.energisejuiceplus.com

Simple steps to much less Stress

I also recommend you take a look at this book by Ann Peckham “Simple steps to much less stress”. A wonderful book full of easy to implement strategies to combat stress. Anne has transformed her own health, reducing her weight, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and all without dieting or medication. And is passionate about helping others to do the same!

 

Finding ways to reduce the level of stress in your life will open up reserves of energy and determination you may not know you had!

 

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Unveil your masterpiece

Everyone, and I mean everyone, has a masterpiece within them. You know when you meet someone whether or not they are showing you a glimpse of their masterpiece. It’s written all over them –their walk, their talk, their stance, their look. They exude self-confidence. They have a warm and welcoming manner that makes you and others in their company want to know them more. In fact, from the moment they smile you can’t help but smile back.

When you look in the mirror are you smiling back? Can you see a glow in your cheeks, a twinkle in your eye and an aura of happiness so radiant that it makes you happy?

Sometimes we have a huge amount of pain and worry in our lives that it can be very hard to smile in the mirror. A knock-back can knock us so far down that sometimes it is hard to get up. When we’re down and worn-out with very little energy to get out of bed in the morning those negative feelings can be very consuming and powerful. It can be hard to shift those negative thoughts as they keep running around in our mind. But what good are these negative thoughts doing? Are they taking away the pain, the worry and the stress? Are they making you feel good about your life? Of course, they are not! These negative thoughts have a huge effect on the body as stress begins to build and unhappiness takes over.

Sometimes life can be hard, very hard. However the way in which we handle those hard moments is our own choice. Don’t let the negative thoughts build up so bad that the goodness doesn’t shine from every pore. You deserve to be happy. You deserve good things. Fuel your thoughts with praise, goodness, happiness and positivity to unveil your masterpiece. Turn those negative thoughts into powerful POSITIVE thoughts!

unveil your masterpiece

The following activities can foster our positive thoughts and dreams:

  1. Exercise can help you feel relaxed and good about yourself.
  2. Meditation can help reflect on meaningful goals.
  3. Music can change our mood instantly whether we want to be more relaxed or uplifted.
  4. Being there for others can allow us to become more aware of our own needs as well feeling good about helping others.
  5. Socialising with friends is good especially when we need support to deal with negative situations.
  6. Visualisation can give us direction and goals.

Like I’ve said before you are in control of what your masterpiece looks like. Choose your own tools – try out different methods or exercises like those in the list above – to create a wonderful masterpiece that is unique in every way! If you haven’t already started, today is the right day to unveil your masterpiece.

One word or one thought can make all the difference.

Let’s take two scenarios where one word or one thought can make all the difference.

First scenario:

Imagine you are in the library where you find yourself in the self-help section and you decide to have a little look at the books. You come across two books that are very similar in size and their front covers look identical. The only real difference is the title. Which of the following two titles would you choose to get answers for?

  1. How to cope with life’s ups and downs.
  2. How to enjoy life’s ups and downs.

Both titles are very similar except for one word. It’s funny how one word can play a deciding factor in what we do. Did you choose the word COPE or ENJOY? If you chose number one, it’s likely that you like to look for solutions and strategies to help you cope with life. If you chose number two, it’s more probable that you’re looking for fun and excitement to help you enjoy life. Depending on which book title you chose will depend on your mindset and how positive you are feeling at that particular moment. Both titles acknowledge that life has ups and downs; good days and bad days; positives and negatives.

Second scenario:

What do you think when you see a rainbow? Is it a moment to “ooh & ahh” while looking around for a smile to share the rainbow with? Or do you look for the end of the rainbow to find the pot of gold followed by a sigh that you’ve forgotten your umbrella? In same way as one word influences us so too does one single thought.

Next time you find yourself looking at a rainbow consciously think about how you view life. Consciously change your mindset.

Visualise all the positive things you have in your life when you see a rainbow.

There’s always a positive thought in a rainbow. Sometimes you just have to look a bit harder! But is there, if you want to find it.

  1. Appreciate the rainbow. At the same time, appreciate your family and friends that are always there for you. Visualise your friends and family at the end of the rainbow instead of the little man in green!
  1. Smile at the rainbow – enjoy the colours and think about how lucky you are if you see a double rainbow.
  1. Rainbows only happen when there is both sun and rain. View the bad times as raindrops, that are there to help us learn more or to see that something else is going on that we need to take on and react to more positively. The sun is always there, just like the good times are always there.

 

How we view things can be changed simply by changing one word or one thought. Choosing that word or thought can have such a massive influence over how we feel on a certain day or about a particular situation. It’s not to say that we have to think positively all of the time but many of us end up worrying too much over a small situation that leads to us being stressed and not feeling in control which then leads to a dip in our confidence levels.

Changing our mindset to develop a more positive outlook certainly helps.

One word or one thought can make all the difference; choose them wisely. 

 

Can stress be good for you? How you can make it your friend.

I watched a fascinating talk by health psychologist Kelly McGonigal; she shares a fascinating idea: that the harmful effects of stress may be a consequence of our perception that it is bad for our health. Agreeing with my earlier article on stress that “That’s not to say a challenge is a bad thing, we need to progress and grow, we do this by dealing with stressful situations and coming out the other side. However, what may be stressful to one person may minimally affect another–and vice versa. The reason: it is not the event which is stressful, but how we view and respond to the event that counts. “

Kelly McGonigal presents scientific research in her presentation that proves an up side to stress:

“Can changing how you think about stress make you healthier? Here the science says yes,” says McGonigal. “Your heart might be pounding, you may be breathing faster… but what if you viewed them as signs that your body was energized and it’s preparing you to meet this challenge.”

The main points from the scientific research mentioned in the video are:

  • Stress may actually be correlated with longevity—if a person does not view it as a negative
  • A possible antidote to negative effects of stress: giving to others
  • Moderate stress can lead to cell growth in the brain’s learning centers
  • Stress can summon helper hormones to vulnerable areas
  • Stress can induce both good and bad habits
  • A stress-is-enhancing mindset may have lasting effects

How to deal with stress in a positive way

1. Nothing and no one can “make” you feel anything. You are responsible for the reaction you have to any given situation, of you can’t change anything, accept it for what it is. Accepting doesn’t mean to give up, by accepting what can’t be changed and finding a way to cop with it is a great stress reducer.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

2. Exchange attitude for gratitude. The science indicates above that as possible antidote to stress is giving to others, that makes us feel good about ourselves. Sometimes you can find gratitude in the smallest things. You can be thankful for life, health, strength, friends, family, nature, etc. Focusing on gratitude can definitely change your attitude.

3. Look at the big picture. Evaluate your stressful situation from a “big picture” point of view. Ask yourself “how important is this?” and “will this matter in the long run?” If the answer is no, it’s likely not worth your time and energy.

Do you take your health for granted?

WHO definition of Health

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

How much attention to you pay towards your health? As busy business people under pressure from deadlines, juggling family life, traveling from conferences to meetings, you could be constantly eating on the run, wanting to find time for the gym, reaching for the wine glass after a particularly stressful day; we have all been there! Often we let our health slide because we don’t prioritize it against the many other tasks we have to deal with. Unfortunately we can’t see the damage we are doing on the inside, the human body is a wonderful machine and will take years of abuse but in the end something will give. Often we are like sitting ducks, only valuing our health when we are faced with an illness.

In our fast paced, convenience driven lifestyles how did we become so far removed from what is good for us? Hippocrates, often known as ‘The father of medicine’ said:

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”

 

“The natural healing force within each of us is the greatest force in getting well.”

medicine is food

Hippocrates was born something like 460 BC and was the first physician of the time to separate medicine from religion, believing and arguing that disease was not a punishment inflicted by the gods but rather the product of environmental factors, diet, and living habits. Wouldn’t you think after all this time we would be much better equipped to look after our health?

We throw at our bodies all sorts of insults in the form of processed food, alcohol, environmental toxins and lack of exercise hoping that it will cope and that nothing bad will happen. It’s funny that we will have our car’s serviced each year because we know it will save us money in the long run yet we don’t treat our bodies with the same respect;  it’s the one thing we all own which can’t be replaced!!

Don’t ignore the warning signs!

For some people it will take a major health challenge to get their attention and motivate them enough to slow down and take better care of themselves.  For others, the mere inconvenience and nuisance of getting the flu and colds regularly, regular headaches, having no energy or feeling run down will be enough of a warning sign  to make fundamental lifestyle changes. Getting the balance right between sleep/relaxation, exercise and nutrition is the secret to well-being. Can you afford not to prioritize your health?

 

Visit my health blog for more advice www.synchealth.co.uk  on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.