Stress is an inevitable part of every person’s life.
All of us have experienced restless nights, overwhelming phone calls, erratic work emails and juggling work and personal life altogether. But if left unchecked, high stress levels affects your overall wellbeing by leading to many different physical and mental problems.
Given that many Americans experience chronic stress, focusing on how to fight and prevent it is crucial. Recognizing the roots of stress and addressing them properly with healthy coping mechanisms will bring back a good night’s rest, improve the quality of our nutrition, and encourage people to continue to live an active lifestyle.
There are some people who do not realize that a healthy diet helps combat the negative effects of stress. According to the researchers in Abbott, there are specific compounds found in your food that help combat the side effects that stress induces in our health. One good example of that is drinking green tea.
Green tea and other dark and leafy vegetables contain antioxidants that can help reduce damage from cellular oxidation and prevent microinflammation caused by stress. Since most people are now living a fast-paced life, it has become increasingly important to take care of one’s health physically and mentally to prevent diseases, anxiety, burnout and even depression.
If you are trying to relieve your stress, below are healthy lifestyle choices and the reason why they help you cope with stress.
Eating Balanced and Healthy Meals
Foods containing antioxidants, carotenoids, polyphenols, anti-inflammatory properties and unsaturated fatty acid help reduce the inflammation your body is suffering from when you are too stressed out.
You may not feel like your body is inflamed, as this is happening at a micro-level, at the level of your cells. Inflammation can cause imbalanced hormones, weight gain, chronic diseases and other health concerns every person is trying to avoid – diabetes and cancer.
Eating Home Cooked Meals
As mentioned earlier, most people are living a fast paced life. It is easy for stressed people like you to replace home cooked meals to home delivery fast foods from your favorite restaurants.
If you think about it, you will never know all the ingredients added to your takeout meals. You can never guess how much salt, sugar and MSG you are putting inside your system, let alone other hidden unhealthy ingredients, some of them even possibly carcinogenic.
When you cook your food at home, you generally eat healthier because you have full control over the ingredients you are using. An easy solution to this issue is meal prep. Dedicating a few hours of your day off to whip up meals for the entire week does not just improve your eating habits, it also cuts down cost. Doing so eliminates your worries on what and where to eat when you have no time to cook.When you cook your food at home, you generally eat healthier because you have full control over the ingredients you are using. An easy solution to this issue is meal prep. Dedicating a few hours of your day off to whip up meals for the entire week does not just improve your eating habits, it also cuts down cost. Doing so eliminates your worries on what and where to eat when you have no time to cook.
Being Physically Active
While stress makes it harder for people to make time to workout, exercising is one of the most effective solutions to problems like low energy, chronic pain caused by inflammation, and especially weight gain.
Physical activity helps release the feel-good-hormone called endorphins and reduces cortisol levels. This is the main reason why many runners get a “runner’s high” and why most people generally feel good after their workout.
Getting Enough Sleep
It may sound counterintuitive to sleep more when you barely have time to do so after an hectic day. But trying your best to get at least 7 hours of sleep will help you stave away hunger pangs and the possibility of gaining weight. Stress and overeating go hand-in-hand and if you do not get enough rest, you will surely set your body to gaining more pounds.
Drinking Less Caffeine And More H2O
Drinking caffeine is a great way to get that extra energy you need in the morning. Though it gives you the jitters, it helps you stay awake. But as much as you want caffeine to be part of your daily routine, research shows that caffeine worsens your body’s stress responses.
While coffee helps you stay awake on those tiresome mornings, it is best to slowly lessen your caffeine intake and drink more water instead as low consumption of water is a common source of weakness and fatigue.
Effective stress management does not just fall under living a healthy lifestyle, you have to be smart in how you address stress too. Eating healthy foods and exercising everyday will not be as effective as you want it to be if you cannot find the source of your stress and replace unhealthy coping strategies to healthy ones.
Managing stress starts with identifying its sources. This is not as straightforward as you might think. While it is easy to pinpoint some major stressors in your life (going through a divorce, moving house, changing jobs or an unhappy relationship), identifying the sources of stress can be sometimes more complicated.
You may know what you’re constantly worried about (perhaps overloaded work deadlines), but it is a possibility that your procrastination, rather than the actual tasks you have, is causing your stress. Look closely at your attitude, habits and excuses to identify the true root cause of stress.
● Are you telling yourself that stress is just temporary, when the last time you had a vacation was years ago?
● Do you consider stress as an integral part of your work and personal life and just simply welcome it?
● Do you blame other people or external events for your stress?
Until you define and accept the role you play in creating your own stress, it will remain outside your control. If you still find it difficult to determine the true cause of your stress, keeping a journal will help you identify it. Every time you feel stressed and overwhelmed, log it down in the journal. As you fill it up, you will soon begin to see common themes and patterns of your stress.
As soon as you identify what’s causing your stress, you can begin to see which of your coping mechanisms are unhealthy and productive. It is quite unfortunate that some people cope with stress in ways that compound other problems. A few good examples are drinking alcohol, smoking, using drugs, withdrawing from social life and binge eating.
As mentioned earlier, stress is inevitable and living a healthy lifestyle is the best way to cope with it. This means no alcohol, no smoking, no procrastinations, no binge eating, no zoning out from friends and family. If you think that your coping methods are contributing to a poor emotional and physical health, it is time to make a change.
Try to experiment with different healthy strategies and techniques like engaging in sports, writing a journal, or even getting a dog. Keep in mind that there is no single method that works for every person at every situation, just make sure to start with eating a clean diet and living a healthy and active lifestyle, and the rest will follow naturally.
Katrina Rice is a mom and a freelance writer. She strongly believes in the concept of holistic wellness through healthy and natural living, traveling and immersing one’s self in new activities. A self-proclaimed health enthusiast, she hopes to inspire more people to do the same.