All posts tagged 'oping with stress'

Understanding & Managing Stress

keri-drink

Stress affects everything. Yes, everything. There really isn’t one area of your “world”, body or life that isn’t impacted by stress. Your reactions to stress control everything from your breath to your hormones.

The immediate reactions to stress are what we think of as “fight or flight” responses. Upon experiencing a stressful situation, hormones are released that constrict your blood vessels and raise your blood pressure. Eventually, your hormone levels return to normal and your heart rate is regulated. This is healthy, normal, and fine! However, prolonged, chronic stress can lead to health complications including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

The hormones released when we’re stressed include adrenaline, corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) and cortisol. While the first two work quickly in the body to give instant energy (which initially reduces hunger), cortisol hangs around in the body longer.

So while an immediate response to acute stress can be a temporary loss of appetite, prolonged chronic stress that goes unmanaged can be tied to an increase in appetite and craving (carbohydrates specifically), and in turn cause you to store fat specifically around the midsection.

Stress causes many problems because it increases free radicals (bad guy compounds that cause a whole lot of problems). The production of free radicals is what is known as oxidative stress. Though the presence of some free radicals is normal, prolonged oxidative stress causes chronic inflammation. This in turn can cause significant damage to your cells, and complications such as, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer and diabetes as well as arthritis, IBS and Crohn's Disease.

Stressful situations themselves are unavoidable, and sometimes a little stress can be a good thing. But there are ways to prevent elevated responses and manage the stress in your life. We hear it all the time that we should take time to relax, de-stress and unwind, but this concept is so much easier said than done. Taking control of being a less-stressed person is something you can work on in only a few minutes a day – you don’t have to go for a massage or book a spa weekend. Try the following quick stress busters:

  • If you have 15 minutes: read a chapter or two in a book.
  • If you only have 5-10 minutes: sit quietly with a cup of tea.
  • If you can only manage 30 seconds: rub aromatherapy lotion on your hands.

happy-outdoors

Yes, you can lower your stress by getting a massage or doing a little pampering, but you can also prevent elevated responses to stress from happening in the first place by practicing meditation, getting enough sleep, exercising, and, yes, eating foods that are linked to mood-boosting, calming benefits.

Oatmeal, leafy greens, celery, cashew, avocado, grass fed beef, and even dark chocolate can have a positive effect on reducing your stress symptoms. Some foods, like oatmeal, spinach, and dark chocolate, have the ability to regulate serotonin, which is the feel-good, mood-boosting and mood-stabilizing hormone. Others, like grass-fed beef and peppers are sources of vitamin C, which has been shown to lower levels of cortisol in the body and reduce the physical and psychological effects of stress.

Perhaps the simplest thing you can do to fortify your health is to supplement your diet with Minerals & Antioxidants blend. The boost of antioxidants helps to fight damaging free radicals. Think of antioxidants as the good guys that fight the bad guy free rads. Not only that, but when mixed and consumed with water, you’re contributing to your hydration to boot. What could be simpler?

Keri Keri Glassman MS.RD.CDN