This article is a 4 part series, so stay tuned for the next 2 KEYS to boosting energy and fat loss! Part I can be found HERE.
There will be a challenge for you to follow each week, so get a move on!
This week, I want you to focus on ways that you can reduce or manage your stress more effectively. Choose a minimum of 2 actionable steps from the list below and actively put them to use this week.
Stress is one of the most overlooked aspects of overall health, yet it can have profound effects on your body, thoughts, feelings, and behavior. This aspect is a perceived emotional feeling that literally translates into physical damage to your body. I just don’t think people give it the emphasis it deserves, because we can’t literally see it like food, exercise or sleep. Sure, you can “handle it” as in, you can survive with it, but you you certainly can’t thrive with chronic high level stress! If you want to look and feel better, this aspect needs to be addressed.
Defining “stress” can be tricky, because it can be completely different from one person to the next (remember, it’s an emotional state that’s perceived). Stress comes in many forms and typically gets a bad rap, but it isn’t always a bad thing. When punctuated (not chronic) it acts as a great “get up and go” response. Without it, the human race wouldn’t have survived long! Stress causes physical changes like increased heart rate and blood sugar to help us “get away” from whatever threat there is. Although this response is necessary and good, it’s often put into overdrive by our nervous system. This means that we are perceiving things to be bigger stressors than they actually are, causing our brains and bodies to think we are constantly in danger. This cycle is what causes chronic stress, which can lead to some serious health consequences like increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression, just to name a few. Chronic stress also impacts sleep, exercise performance and motivation, hormone balance, and blood sugar, which ALL in turn directly affect your energy and body composition/ weight!
This article focuses on dealing with emotional stress, however it’s important to note that there are many underlying “stressors” that effect the body the same way, but may not be perceived as “stressors.” Some examples of chronic stressors that aren’t emotional include:
- Unstable blood sugar
- Lack of sleep
- Lack of exercise
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Digestion issues
- Over or under exercising
- Health conditions that may be unidentified or not well controlled
Needless to so say, managing your emotional stress can be a deal breaker for your overall health and body composition goals. Take it from Function Medicine Expert, Chris Kresser ND, who said:
“If you’re not doing some form of regular stress management, you will sabotage all of your best
efforts with diet, exercise, and supplements. ”
I’m defiantly not going to sit here and say “just stop being so stressed!” because that’s no help at all, and it’s not realistic either. What I want you to realize is, stress is only as bad as YOU PERCEIVE it to be. It’s relative, and you do have some control over how you perceive it and react to it. What WILL be helpful is finding ways for you to manage your stress in a better way. Stress will still exist, but you will be aware of how to either decrease it when you’re able too, or manage it in a way that isn’t as harmful.
Here are some some of my top TIPS FOR STRESS MANAGEMENT:
- Commit 5-10 minutes per day on most days, to some type of mind-body based practice
- Try to find a consistent time of day to do it. I suggest the morning.
- Consider trying one of these techniques:
- Learn to say “NO” and stop overcommitting yourself when it’s not necessary
- Take note of the people that surround you. Who makes you happy and feel good? Who doesn’t? Try to limit exposure to negative influences when possible, and increase time with positive people
- Go to bed earlier to get more and better quality sleep
- Get outside in the sunlight (without sunglasses) in the AM, even for just 5 mins
- Be mindful of your stress levels throughout the day and asses if the situation could have been prevented or mitigated. If it was unavoidable, could you take some deep breaths, acknowledge it, and move on in your brain? (example- sitting in traffic. Acknowledge it, but also realize there is nothing you can do at the present moment to fix it, and try to enjoy the time to yourself)
- Seek counseling if you have a large emotional issue that wears on you. Attempt to find resolution with someones help if necessary
- Consider trying some adaptogenic herbs. Ashwaganda and Rhodiola are two popular choices to start with. Pick one or the other to try