Stress is a part of daily life. A little bit of stress isn’t bad for you. But chronic, overwhelming stress can have a huge impact on your overall wellbeing.
In fact, when it comes to weight gain or struggles with weight loss, stress is a massive factor! When you are under stress, your body produces a stress hormone called cortisol.
Cortisol does a number of things in the body, but one thing it does is tell the body to store as much fat as possible. This means that you could be in a calorie deficit, working out regularly, and your body could still cling to fat if you were stressed out.
Unfortunately, today’s society runs off stress. You can’t get rid of everything that causes you stress. But what you can do is manage your stress levels naturally. That’s why I’m sharing my favourite tips for calming the body and moderating stress.
My top 5 stress tips
Take a breath
When we’re under stress, we’ll start breathing rapidly, and the breaths are often quite shallow. This keeps the body in a state of alert. But what if we could use this to our advantage, and change the breath?
When we focus on our breath and take the time to breathe deeply, the nervous system starts to calm itself. And when the nervous system settles, we produce less cortisol and start to feel a bit calmer.
Take a moment every hour or so to take a few deep breaths.
Every morning, I like to take a few minutes to remember and acknowledge all of the things that I have. I relax my shoulders, and then think ‘what is going well?’
It might be something like work or family. It might even be something tiny like ‘I had a good night’s sleep’ or ‘It’s a beautiful sunny morning’. But by focusing on the positives in your life, you can shift your perspective and realise that your stress is only a tiny part of your life.
Get some quality zzzs
Sleep is underrated when it comes to stress management! A lot of people think staying up late ticking things off the to-do list will make them feel less stressed. But it’s often the exact opposite.
When we sleep, our bodies get a chance to rest, recharge and rebuild. The glands that produce stress hormones, the adrenals, need plenty of rest when we’re under pressure. Otherwise, they will get overworked and won’t be able to produce the right levels of stress hormones anymore.
If you are feeling stressed, make it a rule to get a minimum of 7hrs sleep each night.
Keep it low GI
From a nutritional perspective, one of the simplest ways to minimise stress is to balance out your blood sugars. If your blood sugars are all over the place, your body will produce more cortisol.
The easiest way to balance your blood sugars is to include protein, fibre and/or healthy fats with every meal and snack. These foods slow the absorption of energy into the bloodstream, so your body has time to utilise it.
Moderate your caffeine intake
Caffeine might seem to be your best friend when you’re tired and stressed. But it isn’t your adrenal glands’ friend! Caffeine causes the body to produce even more cortisol, as well as increasing the load on the liver.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, the last thing you want to do is quit caffeine cold-turkey. Instead, switch every second coffee for either green tea or herbal tea. Keep caffeine consumption to the morning, otherwise, you can interfere with your sleep pattern.
Want more support with stress management and living a healthy, happy life? Make sure you check out The Lifestyle Collective – find more details here.