Stressed and tired out?

What goes on inside our body?

We all have differing degrees of stress in our lives. However, if you really knew the impact of stress on your body, it would probably freak you out. Stress has become an addictive pattern in society, where faster is better and fitting more into our ever-expanding schedules is accepted as the norm.

Flight or fight response

When you are stressed, your fight or flight response kicks in. Your adrenal glands flood your body with adrenaline and cortisol, increasing your heart rate, raising your blood pressure, making your blood more susceptible to clotting. As your body goes into survival mode, digestion is halted, and your body stores body fat. This is an evolutionary response to keep us alive. This may have worked back in the caveman era, when we were threatened by sabre toothed tigers but in today’s age our threats are rarely physical. Unfortunately, this response doesn’t help us cope with the continual stress caused by our own thoughts, expectations and workload.

The hormonal roller-coaster

Imagine a typical morning where you haven’t had a moment to yourself and you haven’t eaten. You reach for the easiest thing that will give you an energy burst… a large coffee with some white toast or a muffin. However, reaching for the caffeine increases catecholamines, your stress hormones, triggering the release of cortisol (fight or flight). This coupled with the sugar from the food ramps up your stress hormones (even when you are not feeling stressed)! This continual cycle creates hormonal havoc and eventually makes you feel lousy, upset and fat.

6 Strategies to Eliminate Stress, Tiredness & Fatigue

1.     It starts with your diet

Pack your diet with healing nutrients to restore balance back into your body and help you shed excess weight. Food provides information that controls our hormones, gene expression, metabolism and more. Avoid processed foods, sugars and gluten to reduce stress.

 A healthy diet should include

  • healthy essential fats – wild caught oily fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovies) flax seeds, chia seeds, avocado and coconut oil, almonds, walnuts…
  • clean protein - wild-caught oily fish, grass-fed meat, beans, and an array of colourful vegetables
  • leafy green and cruciferous vegetables - chard, spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage…

 2.     Powerful adaptogenic herbs

Adaptogen herbs can increase the body’s resistance to stress. Here are my favourite 3:

  • Maca root is full of antioxidants. Studies have shown how it can improve libido, balance hormones, boost energy, mood and memory.
  • Ashwagandha can help to stabilise cortisol levels and improve stress tolerance. Research shows that it can be beneficial for regulating the thyroid, various types of tumours, cognition and memory, inflammation and arthritis.
  • Rhodiola provides a biological defence against stress. Research into rhodiola have concluded that it can help improve mental performance, sleep disturbances, irritability, high blood pressure, headaches, fatigue and weight-loss.

3.    Prioritise sleep

Lack of sleep (less than 7-8 hours daily) increases your stress hormones. With not enough sleep, you are more likely to experience anxiety, weight gain, depression, poor memory and low immunity.

4.     Move

Swimming, yoga, running, dancing, riding a bike, stretching are the best ways to reduce stress! The more you exercise the more energy you will have, leading to better metabolism and improved sleep. An all-round positive effect.

5.     Breathe deeply

Most of us breathe shallow breaths. Deep, slow, full breaths can help re-set your stress response. Try it and take five slow, deep breaths now, breathing in through your nose for 5 seconds, hold it for another 5 seconds and then breathe out through your mouth. Observe how different you feel.

6.     Break the cycle

Practice noticing stress and how it makes you feel. Deep breathing, trusting that everything will be ok and letting go of your worries can help break the cycle. Suffering is optional; and often keeps you stuck in the past. Your thoughts often dictate who you are and how you behave – create a future that you want. Life is full of mistakes and anguish and it is also full of hope and beauty. Only you can decide what tomorrow will bring.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.

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