Your body has an innate ability to heal itself. If it’s provided with the correct environment and nourishment it is able to repair and regenerate itself, not quite in two minutes Dr Who style but over a period of time new cells grow and replace worn out ones.
The human body is truly amazing BUT it has one major drawback.
The drawback? It hasn’t evolved anywhere near fast enough to keep up with changes in eating habits, changes in food production and processing methods. Not to mention our modern 24/7 lifestyle and our polluted environment which take their toll and can be very stressful for our body to deal with.
Stress zapps your energy
Stress uses up a lot of energy, a lot of nutrients and can be a cause of nutritional deficiencies in the body, and on top of this it also prevents the body from repairing and restoring itself too.
Nutritionally there is a lot that can be done to help the body reduce the effects of stress, but this would be a very long article if I were to cover all of that!
I’ve put together 5 simple tips to help you reduce the effects of stress and raise your energy levels. I’m not saying for one minute that if you’re suffering from stress that these five tips will magically make everything better. They can’t take away the cause of the stress, but you could consider them as damage limitation tactics.
So here they are…
1 – Hydrate
Dehydration is incredibly stressful for the body and at the same time stress is incredibly dehydrating. It’s a vicious circle!
A dehydrated body has trillions of cells all crying out for fresh, clean water that just isn’t coming. This is a source of physiological stress. Maybe not something you would think of as a stress, but your body perceives it that way, so dehydration can be enough to trigger the stress response.
It is so easy to stop this stress trigger by drinking plenty of water every day.
2 – What do you do to ‘unwind’?
If you reach for a thriller novel or watch horror films that have you on the edge of your seat, you’ll very likely be triggering a stress response rather than relaxing and unwinding.
The feeling you get when you’re on the edge of your seat, waiting for the next twist or turn in the plot, that’s the stress response right there!
Choose something calming and relaxing instead.
3 – Breathe
I’m almost sure I can hear you saying ‘but I am breathing’ and yes you are, but are you breathing properly? All too often the breath is too fast, too shallow.
Take some time to sit and breathe deeply. This can be as simple as sitting quietly and breathing in deeply and breathing out slowly. Do this for 5-10 minutes twice a day, your body will thank you for it I promise. Counting the in breath and the out breath is also a good way of focusing the mind on the here and now
The aim is to break the stress cycle. It’s a bit like pushing a reset button
4 – Pause and reboot
This one follows on from breathing and takes it a step further. If you can also build some form of relaxation into your daily routine it will really amplify the positive results.
Meditation is perfect for this. When you meditate, your heart rate and breathing slow down, blood pressure normalises, you use oxygen more efficiently, you sweat less and your adrenal glands produce less cortisol. This is all the opposite of the stress response.
Stress affects your ability to think clearly and impairs problem solving skills. So next time you’re struggling with a problem and find yourself saying ‘I don’t have time to meditate’ you should turn this on its head and think ‘I don’t have time not to meditate’!
5 – Laughter is the best medicine!
When we laugh, a real heartfelt laugh, it helps release emotions which can help reduce stress and tension but it’s benefits go further than this.
Laughing or smiling triggers the release of neurotransmitters called endorphins. These are the ones that make you feel happy. Believe it or not, they’re triggered by the movements of the muscles in your face, which is interpreted by your brain as a signal to release the endorphins.
Even better still, your brain can’t differentiate between real or fake smiles and laughter. It’s the positioning of the facial muscles that counts. So this is definite a case where the phrase “fake it ‘til you can make it” rings true.
A final thought…
We often try to cover up the fact that we’re stressed or say “everything’s fine, I’m coping”. But if you find yourself saying, or thinking, something like that your body is likely to be in stress response mode whether you acknowledge it or not.
So, I would urge you not to try to sweep your stresses under the carpet. Be honest with yourself and recognise when stress is creeping in so that you can start to do something positive about it.
Try out these simple tips to help reduce the effects of stress and increase your energy levels, focus and productivity.
If you need more support with this please seek professional help and feel free to reach out to me for advice on nutrition and lifestyle changes that could help.