Learn how to cope with stress by eating healthy and taking a closer look at your nutrition.
“The right diet is crucial for managing stress,” says health coach and wellness blogger Nic Makim. “Eat regularly and consume yoghurt and low-fat milk to boost your calcium levels and settle your nerves. If you have an intolerance to dairy, make sure you’re getting enough calcium and magnesium from other food sources. Chamomile tea is an age-old tonic to relax and soothe – you may also want to consult a naturopath about herbal support to help decrease the impact of stress on your brain and body.”
Eating right will supercharge your body’s natural immune and healing systems, and exercising regularly goes a long way too. Breathing, meditation and visualisation exercises can help you let go of anxieties, and there is strong evidence to suggest that yoga therapy and meditation help reduce stress and its associated symptoms.
A 2014 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that mindful meditation can help ease psychological stresses such as anxiety, depression and fatigue, and therapeutic yoga programs were also shown to reduce markers of stress and inflammation.
More importantly, recognise that some stress is inevitable.
“If you have unproductive worries, try to remember that as much as we may strive to, we are never going to rid our lives of stress entirely,” says Dr Lishman. “Stress is a vital part of being alive. In fact, without feeling stressed now and again, we would be so carefree and blasé about everything that we would have been killed off years ago! It’s not stress itself that matters; it’s what you do with it that counts.”
The symptoms that we associate with a stressful lifestyle such as sleep deprivation, social isolation, weight gain and major depression are all associated with higher rates of heart disease. It is clear, therefore, that finding effective stress management strategies is essential to our overall health and wellbeing.
However, don’t stress about it! Just concentrate on the following:
- eat nourishing foods to meet the nutritional demands of the body
- exercise regularly to naturally reduce your cortisol levels
- unplug from digital devices when you need to chill out
- pay active attention to your emotions
- distinguish between problem-solving thoughts and the unproductive ones that simply make your mind race faster
- disengage, but don’t detach from your feelings
Find a balance between rest and activity, and create a maintainable chill-out routine for when you get home to prioritise calm and relaxation.
“Tuning in to your beautiful body is always at the top of my agenda with all my clients,” says Makim. “I’m also loving this whole mindfulness trend at the moment. Less judgement and negativity and more acceptance and appreciation go a long way towards managing stress and life in general.”
In other words, when you’re stressed you’re unable to function at your full potential, so make time for yourself. We can’t stress that strongly enough.