Stress is something that we all experience from time-to-time. We might be nervous about a presentation at work, stressed about a deadline we have to met, or feel overwhelmed that our schedule is jam packed.
It's completely natural to feel stressed here and there, and having a bit of stress in our lives isn't necessarily a bad thing. But when it sticks around in the long run and starts to become a consistent part of life, this is when it can start to take a toll on the body in more ways than one.
Prolonged bouts of stress cause the body to constantly be in fight or flight mode. To make matters worse, the levels of cortisol and insulin in the body become elevated and this causes extra glucose in the blood stream to be stored as fat, often in the lower abdomen.
At the end of the day, I'm not here to suggest you try and avoid stress all together. But, if it has become a consistent part of your everyday life and you think it might be holding you back from your healthy intentions, then you need to get on top of it. Here is my guide to help you address your stress and prioritise number one — you!
Make Mindfulness Matter
As someone who is constantly on the go, I'll be the first to admit that mindfulness doesn't always come easily to me. But ever since I have started to consciously include it in my every day routine, I have noticed a significant difference. You can bring mindfulness into any practice if you completely focus your attention on what you are doing. This can help slow your mind and be present in the moment, instead of getting swept up in the stress around you. I like to practice mindfulness when I sit down for a meal. Ditch the distractions, focus on what you're eating and enjoy every bite.
Find Your Own Zen
To me, self-care is about doing something for yourself each day that makes you truly happy. Whether that's meditating for five minutes or reading the paper with your morning coffee, it's entirely up to you. Trust me, dedicating just a small amount of your day to yourself can have a huge impact on your overall mindset.
Nothing alleviates my stress levels quite like a run or solid sweat session. Exercise releases feel good endorphins that we desperately need when we are in the thick of stress. I always feel totally energised after exercise and it's a great chance for my mind to rest.
It sounds simple, but reminding ourselves to breath is essential when we feel continually bogged down by stress. I always take three big belly breathers before I sit down for a meal. This is a little trick that helps trigger your sympathetic nervous system and can help aid digestion.
Hit the Hay
Never underestimate the power of a good night's sleep. Having adequate sleep means we are in good stead to tackle our busy day ahead and we are much better at handling stress that is thrown our way when we are well rested. I always say seven and a half hours ever night is the sweet spot, so prioritise a good night's rest by hitting the hay at the same time each night, creating a sleep friendly environment and ditching technology all together in the lead up to bed.
Maximise Your Nurtient Absorption
A lot of people don't realise that when you are under consistent stress and your body is in fight or flight mode, the body prioritises all the systems needed to fight or flight and down regulates processes that aren't important, like digestion. So, when we are chronically in this state and sit down for a meal our body struggles to extract the nutrients properly from what we are eating. This should give you all the more reason to slow down, put yourself as number one and take as many steps you can to stress less.