Eliminate Stress to Feel Your Best by Edie Ruge
Eating well and exercising are two of the most important ingredients for a healthy lifestyle and yet, there’s one more necessary component to add to the list. That key ingredient is how to eliminate stress in our lives. Even the healthiest eater, who exercises regularly, is still at risk for illness and disease if they are living a life filled with stress and anxiety.
It’s common knowledge that stress has a negative effect on our lives, but you may not even realize how much it contributes to a myriad of things such as poor sleep, weight gain, inflammatory illness and more. Let’s take a look at the various ways in which stress is taking its toll on us and then we can look at how to minimize stress on a daily basis:
How stress affects our health
Stress is actually a normal biological function, a physical expression of our “fight or flight” survival mechanisms which served an important purpose for early man. Unfortunately, we now live in a world that has created unnecessary and unhealthy levels of stress, negatively impacting our well-being.
- Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
- Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
- Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
- Stress contributes to stomach ailments, weight gain, sleep disorders, and is accepted as one of the leading contributors to cancer.
Stress and Weight Gain
- Metabolism–There are several ways in which stress can contribute to weight gain. One has to do with a stress hormone called cortisol, which is triggered by stress. Too much cortisol can slow your metabolism, causing weight gain.
- Cravings–Stress also triggers cravings and emotional eating. Stress eating leads us to over eat, to eat when we aren’t hungry or to choose foods that aren’t always the best thing for us.
- Blood Sugar –Prolonged stress can alter your blood sugar levels, causing mood swings, fatigue, and conditions like hyperglycemia. This can also have an adverse effect on your weight.
- Fat Storage–Excessive stress has an effect on the way the body stores fat. It increases the storage of fat in the abdominal area which we now know has an even greater link to diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer due to inflammation.
Sleep and Stress
- We need more sleep than we used to think we did–Would you prioritize sleep if you knew it kept your immune system strong? Research by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has shown that the immune system responds sharply to sleep loss.
- Ways of getting better sleep: Drink less liquids in the evening. Do some light stretching before bed. Practice some breathing techniques to do before you go to sleep. Don’t fall asleep to the TV!
Here are some basic things you can do to manage your stress
- Put rest and sleep are at the top of your priority list.
- Include a daily practice of meditation.
- Exercise regularly.
- Get outdoors and surround yourself with nature.
- Use some easy breathing techniques to calm and distress you daily.
- Give yourself extra time to get where you are going.
- Spend time with your pets. They are proven stress reducers.
- Laugh every day! Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immunity in the body.
- Learn to let go of things that aren’t absolutely necessary. Learn to delegate and learn to say no.
Eat to Manage Your Stress
Eating a well-balanced diet can give you the vitamins and nutrients you need to feel less stress and anxiety. Proper macro nutrients help regulate blood pressure, reduce headaches, and strengthen your immune system. Here is a list of some great stress reducing foods:
- Spinach and leafy greens
Working on reducing stress in your life is critical, but not always so easy. Finding balance is an important part of the equation. Take the time to make small changes that will give you the tools you need to let go of your stress and enjoy your life more. You are worth the effort and the results will be life changing!
Edie Ruge is a Health and Wellness Coach offering unique strategies in guiding people to achieve their wellness goals. She specializes in weight management, stress reduction, increased energy and overall improved health. Edie’s integrative and holistic approach helps people lead healthier, happier and more balanced lives.