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Have you ever noticed that after you experience a period of stress, you menstruate early, late, or it’s just completely out of whack, you get a break out of pimples, you feel more fatigued, you catch colds easily, your sleep is disturbed and/or you have ongoing heart palpitations in times where you think the stress is over? If the stress is prolonged, unfortunately these little symptoms can turn into much larger health problems. Although stress is becoming ‘normalised’, it can really take a toll on your body and needs to be addressed.
A lot of the time, the consequences of stress is dependant on the length of time it hangs around for. So, of course, short bursts of stress is completely normal and the body can generally tolerate this really well. Stress has been shown to lower our immune system, alter our hormones, drive memory disorders, reduce cognition and has also been linked to more serious health problems such as cardiovascular disease.
Calm the coffee, but don’t miss out completely
Don’t get me wrong, I love coffee. But when you’re under prolonged amounts of stress, you can be ‘tired but wired’, and coffee isn’t going to help your situation, and may just make you feel more anxious, more stressed and more restless at night time. Choose an alternative that will still give you a dose of energy but allow you to remain calm, like matcha green tea. Matcha contains high levels of l-theanine, which boosts mental performance, but is calming, improves your sleep and decreases your stress response! Another option is cacao. You could make a healthy hot chocolate, enjoy the gentle increase of energy without the intense repercussions of coffee.
Deep belly breaths
Sounds simple, but it’s proven effective. Repeated, slow and deep breaths in has been shown to move you from the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest)
These include herbs such as tulsi and ashwaghanda, which both have the ability to reduce your stress response. I love them in tea form or blended through hot drinks.
Our adrenal glands, which produce cortisol (a ‘stress hormone’), is generally very saturated in vitamin C, though we use a lot of it when we’re experiencing stressful situations. We also know that our immune system is directly affected by stress, so we need to support it in every way possible! Because of this, aim to replenish your vitamin C daily through sources such as berries, citrus fruits, parsley, broccoli, and more concentrated forms include camu camu and kakadu plum.
This has been shown to reduce your stress response, enhance your mood and reduce anxiety. I suggest having magnesium salt baths regularly during stressful times, or even just a couple of times a week as part of your life. Otherwise, it’s another excuse to eat some chocolate as you will find some magnesium in there, too!
Other lifestyle tips to try and morph into your daily regimen include:
Take time away from technology – essential!
Get some sunshine
Connect with the Earth (yes, ‘ground’!), which means taking your shoes off outside when you can
Play your favourite music
Take time to do NOTHING
Consulting Qualified Nutritionist