Written by Stephani Fenkanyn
Stress. We live with it. Some dread it. When it comes to stress and the way our over-stimulated, fast-paced lifestyles look like today, avoiding it isn't always an option. So, what can we do about it? How can we manage
Realizing stress is unavoidable and perceiving it from a less negative point of view is the first step. Knowing what your body needs to thrive in the midst of the storm is the second. Here are some simple stress management tools for our busy lives:
1. Nourish The Body and Wake Up Your Consciousness
What goes on your plate has a huge impact on your stress response. Hormones involved in the stress response like cortisol and insulin, are very sensitive to diet choices. Ingesting the right foods can aid greatly in balancing blood sugar, restoring hormonal balance and reducing the damaging effects of stress. Furthermore, your adrenal glands, also called the stress organs, need the support of good quality nutrients. These nutrients are easily depleted by refined sugars, caffeine and alcohol. Prepare your body for success in balancing stressors by eliminating these foods and replacing them nutrient dense ones like:
- Clean proteins like eggs and legumes
- Healthy fats like chia seeds, coconut oil and olive oil
- Leafy, dark greens
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Non gluten grains like quinoa, brown rice and buckwheat
I also suggest that in times of high stress, make sure you are getting enough key nutrients:
- B-complex vitamins through sources like almonds, avocados and oatmeal
- Omega 3 fatty acids, through sources such as nuts and seeds, salmon and sardines
- Magnesium by eating foods like dark-leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds and sea vegetables.
2. Stay Attuned To Your Body
Prevention of the negative effects of stress begins with attention. When stress becomes a large monster that has taken over and you can’t control, this is when symptoms arise such as fatigue, insomnia, aches and pains, weight gain, illness, and to a more severe extent, burnout. However, it does not have to get this far!
Noticing the signs that your stress threshold is nearing its peak by being attuned to your body allows you to put preventative measures into action. Simply having this information tells your brain to perceive the stressor as less catastrophic and more manageable. In fact, research supports the powerful role that perception and attitude play in the management of stress and consequently, the impact on our overall health.
3. Support The Soul and Achieve Greater Awareness
Staying attuned to the body is much easier when you are supporting it through soul nourishing activities. Getting adequate sleep, writing in a journal, spending quality time with loved ones and getting in a walk or workout are all activities that nourish the soul, help you stay balanced and keep your awareness active.
One simple exercise to increase awareness is conscious breathing. Our lives are busy, but this is one thing you can fit in. Start a mental mantra by repeating “Inhale” when you take a breathe in and “Exhale” when breathing out. Try doing this in a quiet space for 1 minute, daily. Look at that, you’ve started a meditation practice!
Meditation can seem daunting and many people feel like they are doing it wrong when their mind wanders. Don’t be so hard on yourself! The mental action of bringing your mind back to focus is meditative in itself! With time, those neural pathways become strengthened and your mind will have a stronger affinity for perceiving stress as manageable. This awareness will continue to extend to all areas of your life.
Stephani Fenkanyn is a Holistic Nutritionist at Village Juicery, who is enthusiastically committed to making people feel good about their bodies and nutritional choices. She has a strong background in health sciences including a Bachelor of Human Kinetics and a Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy. When working in health care as a therapist, she became more aware of the lack of prevention and over reliance on prescription medications. This is when she decided to pursue her passion of holistic health. Stephani hopes to make the most impact in treating women with female and sexual health issues and hormonal health imbalances.
You can connect with her on Twitter and Instagram:@stephanifenk or on Facebook: facebook.com/stephanifenk