This week we’re looking at our last pillar of health - stress. In today’s modern environment many of us talk about how “stressed” or “busy” we are. So much so that being stressed is becoming the accepted norm. Chronic exposure to stress doesn’t do our health any favours. Generally speaking, you won’t hear someone comment on how “wonderfully stressful” their day was!
We often think of stress as a negative factor, yet we forget to realise that a certain level of stress is healthy. The key is finding the right balance of stress for you.
If your stress levels are balanced you should feel energised to complete both your day-to-day tasks AND the things you enjoy doing.
If that's not the case, here are our 10 favourite ways to bring balance back to your life.
In the modern world, we often view exercise as a way to get fitter, manipulate our bodies or as punishment for poor food choices. In reality, the purpose of movement should be to balance out stress levels.
If you have a wonderfully stress-free life, doing intense exercise will give your body the hormones it needs for positive stress adaptation. You will feel stimulated, energized and engaged in your day-to-day activities. However, many of us already feel tired before we even factor in an exercise regime. If this is you, opt for gentler form of exercise that will nourish your nervous system. Such as yoga, walking, swimming or tai chi. Find the right exercise for you here.
Possibly the most well-received suggestion we make to our clients!
Real chocolate made with cacao and healthy fats like cacao butter is incredibly nutritious.
Cacao is rich in magnesium and B Vitamins - two key nutrients for when your body is under stress. Try our favourite recipe for nourishing chocolate bites.
Meditation is an effective tool for counterbalancing the stresses of modern life. It helps us find inner calm to tackle life with a more positive attitude. It doesn’t have to be a particular meditation practice. Simply sitting down for ten minutes and focusing on your breath is a great place to start. Studies have also shown just 10 minutes of meditation a day can decrease cardiovascular risk.
If you’re completely new to meditating there are great apps like Headspace that can help.
Sometimes we can do all the “right” things but persistent stress leaves us with Adrenal Fatigue.
Deficiencies can deplete our bodies of the nutrients they need for basic enzymatic reactions.
For example, sleep, digestion and processing hormones within our system. Pretty vital things for managing stress and promoting positive mood!
Nutrient deficiencies can creep up at different times, even if you think not a lot has changed in your day-to-day life. Short periods of work stress, affected sleep, increased exercise or a seasonal illness can all throw your nutrient status out of balance.
Check to see if you have any of the Adrenal Fatigue signs by taking our Adrenal Fatigue Questionnaire.
I love taking time out to wind down by putting my legs up the wall.
This posture is one of the most nourishing, grounding and calming poses and we recommend it for clients when they’re feeling overwhelmed, tired, or stressed.
Lie on your back with your sit-bones around four fingers away from the wall. From there, extend your legs up the wall, so that the backs of your legs are resting fully against it. If you're struggling with getting your legs straight you can put a blanket or blocks under your hips to elevate them, creating a slight inversion in your lower belly.
Place your hands on your belly and breathe. Doing this pose for just 2-5 minutes activates your parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for your rest and restore response. It returns blood flow back to your central organs helping engage your rest and digest system and is great to do just before bed to promote sleep.
Like 'legs up the wall', belly breathing helps to calm your central nervous system. Next time you're experiencing stress, notice what happens to your breath. Usually, we switch to shallow breathing from our chest. This triggers a bodily response and alerts our body we are under stress or in danger. It also activates our sympathetic nervous system and our fight or flight responses.
Instead, sit in a comfortable chair or lie on the floor with your hands on your belly. You can even do it sitting at your desk or driving your car. Gently breathe in and out until you notice your hands rising and falling with each breath. Do ten deep and slow breathes to relax your centrsl nervous system. This is great to do just before eating.
Smoothies are a great way to get a load of nutrients into your body in one tasty hit. This Stress Buster smoothie is my personal favourite way to take a five-minute break. Plus it helps reduce the effects of stress on your body.
Full of magnesium, selenium, antioxidants and B Vitamins this smoothie is the perfect snack for beating stress.
Saying a daily affirmation or mantra is a great way to set an intention for the day ahead. We often recommend it to clients who are prone to overthinking or are in the midst of a challenging situation.
A mantra is a sound, syllable or group of words. When recited these are regarded as capable of producing spiritual transformation. The word 'mantra' is common in the eastern world. It is made up of two words: man meaning "mind," and tra meaning "instrument." So, a mantra is "an instrument of the mind".
What I like most about mantras is that they are intended to be said daily. That is, they work through repetition and habit. They help you establish routine and healthy habits irrespective of food or exercise.
Some good ones to try are “I am capable of anything” or “I trust my body to help me” or “I find peace in this moment.” It can be whatever comes to mind to help you personally.
Your morning and evening routines are critical for combating stress. A good morning routine sets you up in the best possible way to deal with the days stressors.
Similarly having a consistent wind-down routine in the evenings helps to promote deep, restful sleep which allows your all your body systems and organs to repair from the day. If you struggle with sleep, having a nourishing bedtime routine can really help.
Sometimes ‘getting healthy’ can seem like an arduous process. Especially if we strictly follow a wellness regime. Learning to stop and appreciate the little things in your life that bring you joy will add greatly to your overall happiness and health.
It doesn’t have to be a lot. Start a gratitude practice where you are thankful for three things daily. It could be a warm cup of peppermint tea on a cold day. It could be a hug from your child. Or it could literally be that you are thankful you had time to be thankful for something!
Learning to appreciate beauty and happiness in and amongst the mundane is a skill that will serve you greatly. Being healthy isn’t about white-knuckling your way through a diet or exercise plan. It’s about living a life that feels happy and enjoyable to you while giving you the energy you need.
If you have any sure-fire ways to beat stress, let us know on Facebook or by tagging us on Instagram, #bepurebenwarren
We are all unique. Our genetics, our environments, our lifestyles, our emotional wellbeing. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to health and wellness or a single solution to your health concerns. If you want to learn more about your personal health story, Ben is touring to 30 cities around NZ presenting his new, 'What's Your Health Story?' seminar now. Learn more here.
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