In ancient times the bear or the lion or any other predator was always lurking. Naturally our bodies are hard wired to protect us from this danger. In Today’s society we no longer live in the dangerous wild but wee still enter the ‘fight or flight’ mode because of the stress of our fast paced lives. Today an email can freak us out and trigger our instinct to run just like facing a bear. (oh and by the way never run from a bear) Some of us are always busy and in a constant state of stress.
The Adrenal Axis
The HPA axis which is made up of the Hypolthalamus, the Pituitary gland and the Adrenal glands becomes unbalanced when we live in chronic stress. Generally this means we lack sleep because we are waking up in the middle of the night or we can’t get to sleep and we often have an over-stimulating diet. Balancing the HPA axis can build resilience to stress and promote a healthy stress response. But the question is how do we relax and put ourselves back into the green zone? The Green zone is is also called the ‘rest and digest’ mode.
When the body is stressed and functioning in survival mode it doesn’t digest properly.
- Eat within one hour of waking up.
- Space your meals 3-4 hours a part if your blood sugar is unstable and 5-6 hours once your blood sugar has stablised.
- avoid snacking before bedtime, your body will start to digest while you sleep and wake you up so fast from dinnertime to breakfast
- drink at least 2 liters of water a day but not during meals except to wash down food.
- Combine all three of the macro-nutrients; protein, healthy fats and slow burning carbohydrates in every meal. East mostly low glycemic foods. Consume a widely coloured diet with dark coloured fruits and vegetables.
- Adrenals secrete a lot of Vitamin C. Chronic stress depletes Vitamin C store so be sure to replenish with either fruit or supplements.
- Avoid eating carbs and sugars by themselves and any packaged processed foods!!!
- Be aware that coffee, alcohol and tobacco greatly affect stress in a negative way. Managing your consumption so it isn’t in extreme will greatly help you manage your stress levels.
The composition of your meals and snacks will affect how you manage stress. Train your body to digest properly.
A mindfulness definitely helps manage stress
- Practice mindful meditation. For at least 10 minutes a day stop and breathe with your diaphragm.Breathing from your belly, even a few deep breathes will already tell your body it is ok to relax there isn’t any danger.
- Electronic curfew; to promote a more restful sleep, stop all screens at least one hour before bed or else you will be agitated when you go to bed.
- Practice pausing; when you feel overwhelmed and learn to say “no” or “not now” when it feels like too much.
- Daily, physical activity helps improve neuroplasticity along with all the other health benefits. I know it’s hard to exercise when you are too strung out from work, doing late hours and not sleeping enough. But even some gentle stretches before bed will help you sleep better.
On the weekends take walks in nature, spend time with loved ones and replenish your energy stores to meet the next weeks’ demands. Over indulging in unhealthy food and alcohol only wears down the body and puts it into a more stressful state.
If you have tried to make changes and keep returning to the same habits. Contact me and learn to set small realistic goals that will help improve your life. One day at a time. Health Coaches can offer you a place free of judgement where you are held accountable for the intentions you set each week. firstname.lastname@example.org