A Holistic Approach to Stress ManagementElizabeth Montgomery - Nutrition and Holistic
Do you feel like you’re burning the candle at both ends? Tense? Or like you just can’t seem to unwind? It’s hardly surprising.
In fact, daily stress has now become synonymous with 21 century living. Busy, multi-tasking lifestyles often leave too little time for healthy meals, exercise and relaxation. The sad truth of the matter is that living a hectic, on-the-go lifestyle leads to some form of eventual burn out.
Virtually everyone has heard of the flight or flight mechanism which the human race developed in response to the threat of being attacked. Unfortunately, the modern “sabre toothed tigers” manifest in a myriad of ways (work stress, raising children stress, EMF’s from mobile phones and computers, financial stress, etc.), and these stresses are often constant. When chronic stress is left unchecked then it can lead to a cascade of negative effects on the body.
There are 4 major types of stress:
- Physical: poor nutrition, lack of sleep, intense physical exertion
- Mental: worry, anxiety, perfectionism,
- Emotional: Fear, guilt anger, shame
- Psycho-spiritual: lack of spiritual alignment, difficult relationships, life challenges
When our bodies are stressed then the adrenals (the glands on top of the kidneys) release different stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, are the two commonly known major players. The long term on going release of these hormones can lead to a myriad of health issues including: impaired thyroid function, digestive issues, hormone imbalances (especially in women), imbalanced blood sugar levels, blood pressure issues, heart disease, frequent colds and the list goes on…
The good news is that there are many things we can do to help keep stress at bay. A holistic approach is required to ensure that the many different forms of stress are constantly kept in check.
Key dietary and lifestyle tips for stress management:
Nourish your body with protein rich meals
Eating protein rich meals at regular intervals is key when it comes to balancing blood sugar levels - which helps take stress off the adrenals. Quality protein sources include: nuts and seeds, beans (especially lentils and kidney beans for adrenal health), hemp and rice protein powder (great for smoothies), algae including chlorella and spirulina, goats cheese, wild mackeral.
The gut/mind connection is of tremendous importance when it comes to keeping stress at bay. Recent research has found that the healthy bowel flora can greatly assist in reducing anxiety, and is the heart of the human immune system response. Consuming fermented foods is paramount in order introduce probiotics (meaning pro-life) to the gut on a regular basis. Popular fermented foods include: raw unpasteurised sauerkraut, dill pickles, coconut yogurt, kefir and miso soup.
Include Omega 3 essential fats in the diet
Adequate omegas 3 fats are very important for stress reduction. EPA and DHA play an important role in helping with adrenal health and brain behaviour. Rich food sources: wild salmon, sardines, sprouted chia and flax seeds and blue green algae. Supplements include: fish, krill oil and vegan based algae oil.
Drink 6-8 glasses of pure filtered water daily for adrenal health and hydration. Decrease the caffeine, bump out the alcohol (big adrenal stressors) and reach for green vegetable juices (fruit juices spike blood sugar levels) and calming herbal teas instead.
Exercise plays an important role in stress reduction and over all fitness. Exercising for as little as 3 times a week can make a big difference to how you handle daily challenges. Try yoga, power walking in nature, dancing or interval training. It doesn’t matter what so long as you move you body on a regular basis.
A good way to take stress off of the adrenals and the body/mind/spirit complex is to find the time to meditate on a daily basis. The body and breathe are very interconnected, and when we meditate on gentle rhythmic breathing for as little as 10 mins a day, it can have profound effects on stress reduction. Why not give it a try!
This is a guest blog written by Wellness Expert Elizabeth Montgomery. Contact our wellness consultants for more information on retreats specialising in stress management, or call 020 7843 3597.