It would probably not come as a surprise to you to know that Americans are among the most stressed people in the world. We notoriously overwork ourselves, are over-leveraged in every aspect of our lives, leave vacation days on the table, and are overrun with errands, to-dos, and must-haves.
In the absence of any other pathology, stress alone can wreak havoc on your body. And the symptoms can be vast and all-encompassing, from hair loss, insomnia, digestive issues to heart disease, cancer, and more.
Taking care of your mental and emotional health is as important as taking care of your physical health because eventually, they will become intertwined if left neglected.
Here are some simple techniques that you can regularly manage and regulate your stress reaction; they can also be used in an acute situation when you are hit head-on with a stressful situation, i.e., a car accident, an argument, and a decision significance.
Processed and unhealthy foods contribute more to stress and your stress response than you may even realize. They cause brain fog and the feeling of not “being sharp,” they slow your body down and are linked to chronic inflammation, anxiety, and depression. Sounds pretty bad, right? But so many Americans continue to eat what is called SAD- Standard American Diet because fabricated or “frankenfoods” are designed- yes, designed to keep you on a cycle of addiction. So, what can you do? A good start would involve eliminating foods that come in a box, bag, or container. Eat fresh (organic when possible) whole foods and make meals that contain as many fruits and vegetables as possible. “Crowd out” the bad stuff. You can reduce costs by shopping at farmer’s markets and prepping and freezing food. Also, have a plan! Plan out your meals for the week, every meal, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you can meal prep for the week, even better, but at least know what you are going to eat so that you are not left hungry with no ideas- those are the times when it is easy to reach to processed food or grab something quick.
Exercise & Move Your Body
Exercise does not have to be a chore, and it does not have to include a gym. Of course, if you like that, by all means, go right ahead and go to the gym, but with our crazy schedules getting to the gym may not be realistic. But! You can still exercise, even if you start with just 20 minutes, even if you start with just 5 minutes!! Anything you do is a start in the right direction; the key is to be consistent. Find something you enjoy, and do it consistently. Gardening, playing with your kids, walking your dog, whatever it is, commit to just three days a week to start. Realistically attainable tasks are tasks that will get done and repeated. Repetition and consistency are what will make your new habit more than just a habit; it will be your new lifestyle. Exercise creates healthy, happy brain patterns and boosts your metabolism. Exercise also provides you with a healthy, cathartic outlet to release your stress and help clear your mind to get a better perspective on a particular situation that is bothering you.