Unmanaged stress is one of the biggest contributors to heart disease and many other conditions. We all have stress in our lives. And not all stress is bad, but it's still stress. The body still has the same chemical reaction whether the reason behind the stress is positive or negative. Let's look at some ways you can manage your stress and live your life feeling a little lighter, a little freer and a lot healthier.
Choose Your Food Wisely
During times of stress, we often crave high calorie foods that are full of refined sugar and other refined carbs and unhealthy fats. These foods lead to the release of dopamine, the 'feel good' hormone. We eat them to relieve that stressed feeling. Unfortunately, as with any other drug, you have to consume more and more of these types of things to get the same effect.
Maintain a healthy diet, full of mostly plant-based, whole foods, and you will be able to make better choices in times of stress. When you consume those dopamine-producing substances, the good feeling is short-lived. You may achieve a temporary 'high', but the crash makes you go back for more and more, which adds to further stress. The yo-yo of eating/crashing/eating, etc. leads to feeling pretty lousy, and yet the stress is still unrelenting.
Take a Timeout
Remember when your kids would act up, you gave them a timeout? We do that to pull them out of the momentum of the undesired behavior and give them a chance to reconsider their choices. Why don't we do that for ourselves? Why don't we take a break, re-evaluate and try to get a little perspective on the stressful situation in front of us?
During the break, that only needs to be a few minutes, take some slow deep breaths. Close your eyes while you breathe, if it's safe to do so. Obviously, if you're driving, closing your eyes is not an option, but breathing is. Stay in the moment and focus on what is within your control at this very second. If you're in heavy traffic and you're running late, what can you control? You are driving as quickly as traffic will allow. You can't control the people in front of you, the situation that led to the traffic jam in the first place and passage of time. The best thing you can do is notify whoever is waiting for you of the situation and breathe. The only thing you can control in this scenario is how you react.
Prioritize Your 'To-Do' List
Remember, that someone else's lack of planning does not have to be your emergency. You cannot be all things to all people, and when you lose sight of that, your self-care often suffers.
Set healthy boundaries and other people's expectations of you. People will treat you the way you allow them. When yo do set boundaries, you may get some resistance from those with whom you previously had no boundaries. Stand firm in your convictions. You might actually be doing them a favor in the long run. They may be able to rely on their own resources more than they thought if they don't have you to do it for them.
There are so many other steps you can take to manage your stress so it doesn't harm your health. Look below for a link to a complimentary consultation with me to get some helpful tips.
Do You Want Help?
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I help women living with or at risk for developing heart disease or other chronic illness that we can manage through lifestyle and nutrition changes. Or maybe you're on the verge of developing heart disease, or diabetes, or another lifestyle related condition. If so, let's chat. For a free consultation with me, click here.