By Lee Sutherland, Health Coach
Feeling stressed? Sometimes even everyday routine can kill your vibe. Manage your stress levels with these top tips:
We all have heard that when stress levels hits an all-time high, you should take the foot off the petal, relax, get your yogi on and become at pro at mediation. But… quite often doing the complete opposite is just what the doctor ordered.
Exercise increases your brain’s production of endorphins which are the “feel-good” neurotransmitters that are responsible for the coveted “runner’s high”— that feeling of euphoria and well-being. So, why not try a short burst of exercise like Tabaha training (in a nutshell it is 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds rest, 8 times through) which is an a great way to get that post workout rush without raising cortisol levels too much. The result? The perfect stress release.
Get your stretch on
Of course there may be times when even lacing up those sneakers can make you feel overwhelmed.
In these moments, give yourself permission to have some time out alone and perform a few simple stretches to encourage both circulation and relaxation. Start by lying on the ground hugging your knees tight to your chest, slowly rolling side to side releasing the tension in your back. From here bend one leg and place your foot on the ground while you stretch the other leg towards the sky, gently pulling your calf towards your chest. Swap sides and repeat on the opposite leg. Try rolling up to standing, then interlace your hands behind your back, bend those knees and fold forward to get a nice release behind your shoulders – bliss!
Take a ‘mental health day’
Life in general is stressful enough but for most, it’s the actual ol’ 9-5 job which generates the most amount of anxiety. An overflowing inbox, a boss you don’t see eye to eye with, even the long commute on public transport is enough to raise the blood pressure. So, once in a while I actually encourage people to take a mental health day off work. By taking a day to be utterly selfish (think massages, a quiet meditative walk in nature, watching re-runs of your favourite show, de-clutter that wardrobe, or maybe updating that resume…) can be enough to give your mind a mini holiday so you wake up refresh and ready to take the world the following day.
Or even better, raw cacao - which is one of nature’s best sources of antioxidants! The nutritional benefits of raw cocoa products include:
- great source of beta-carotene
- amino acids (protein) & Omega-3 EFA’s
- Calcium, zinc, iron, copper, sulphur, potassium,
- and is one of the best food sources of muscle relaxing and also stress relieving magnesium.
Other good news is that it is only 92 calories and 0.54grams of sugar per 15grams serving!
Tip: if you can’t find pure cacao make the switch to dark chocolate that’s to 70-85 per cent cacao; the higher percentage indicates a higher amount of cacao in the product. Our favourites? See our top 5 Guilt Free Treats for Chocolate Addicts.
We all know that eating ‘comfort foods’ can be a direct link to a positive emotion, a meal that your mum prepared when you when sick for example, or your favourite chocolate bar… While this may bring you a sense of (temporary) calmness, these foods also tend to be higher in simple carbs which not can cause your blood sugar levels to spike, then plummets (hello mood swing) these foods can also triggering an enzyme in our fat cells to covert cortisol into more cortisol. Instead reach for wholefoods rich in colour such as;
- Berries: also known for their anti-aging effects and high levels of antioxidants (anthocyanin).
- Wild salmon: Researchers are now discovering that vitamin D may play an important role in mental health and in depression. In addition to sunlight, eating food like wild salmon is a great option as it contains a good dose of vitamin D and selenium – also rich in omega 3 fatty acids, salmon can reduce your levels of the fight-or-flight hormone cortisol; they help to relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure.
- Baby Spinach: Spinach contains magnesium, which helps improve your body’s response to stress, relaxes those muscles and may prevent migraine headaches.
- Avocados: are a good source of monounsaturated fat and potassium, which lower blood pressure. They are also full of vitamin B too, another stress busting vitamin.
- Oatmeal: a surprising demulcent superfood hidden in almost everyone cupboard! Oats are a complete carbohydrate which helps your brain to produce serotonin, that feel good chemical which helps overcome stress. (Need inspiration? Try this oatmeal recipe)
So what are you waiting for? Start to distress your life today!