Stress. Ahhh yes this word gets tossed around again and again in our daily vocabularies because it is something we have all at some stage experienced in our lives.
But what is it exactly?
And why is it so important that we know how to handle ourselves during times of stress?
Firstly, stress affects our system as a result of stimulus, which can be anything from biological, physical, emotional, mental, environmental, internal or external factors. Stress affects us all so differently and has deep profound changes on the biochemistry of our body, our moods and our normal everyday behaviors. It is important to understand what is actually going on inside our minds and bodies so we can learn how to deal with stress when we are exposed to it in our lives.
When we are under constant stress the body releases a hormone called cortisol which switches on the sympathetic nervous system and results in a ‘flight or fight’ response. In its early stages this is a good thing as it gives us a good kick into drive and initiates motivation, action and energy to do whatever it is we need to do. Which can be helpful, right ?!?
However it becomes extremely detrimental when we stay in ‘flight or fight’ constantly. This is where most people spend the majority of their time in modern day living and it has detrimental effects on the mind, body and soul. Symptoms such as headaches, muscle pain, poor digestion, sleep disturbances, regular colds and flus, low energy and skin reactions (just to name a few) may be experienced when we are running on ‘flight or fight’. We work too much, over-stimulate ourselves in all kinds of ways, don’t rest when we need to and continue to push ourselves to beyond our limits.
Biochemically this means that cortisol levels are too high for too long in the blood stream and can lead to inflammation, hormone imbalances, poor digestion, headaches and tension, depleted immune system, muscle aches and pain, sleep disturbances and the inability to ‘switch off”.
Learning to regulate stress levels in your body and manage yourself under stress is one of the key factors to living a full, balanced and healthy life. It is something we are all very passionate about at Natural Instinct Healing and our retreats are designed to not only get you out of ‘flight or fight’ mode so that your mind and body can relax but we also have a huge emphasis on stress management for a greater balance in life.
Here are my 5 top tips for dealing with stress;
- Rest – Resting when you need to is not a sign of weakness nor is it a selfish practice. It is a sign of self-respect and self-love. Resting when you need too allows your body to restore itself leading to better performance, increased mental capacity and an invigorating boost in energy levels. When you do not rest you are depleting your body and activating the ‘flight or fight’ response in to overdrive. Give yourself permission to rest when you need it, it becomes a wonderful healing gift that you can give yourself and you will benefit it so many ways.
- Look after your Liver – When you are in ‘flight or flight’ and relying on stimulants such as sugar, alcohol and caffeine for energy your liver is working extra hard to metabolize all these excess toxins that is flowing throughout your system. You can look after your liver by eliminating the stimulants (such as alcohol, caffeine, sugar and cigarettes), drinking plenty of clean water (minimum of 2L per day), stocking up on dark green leafy vegetables and having a fresh juice everyday to help support detoxification.
- Get organized. The biggest key to overwhelm is organization. When everything feels like it’s too much or too hard, that’s when you really need to re-prioritize and manage your time well. Look at where you are spending all of your time and how it could be managed better. Learn to delegate and learn to say “NO”. Learning to say No to things that do not serve your best interests in that moment enables you to protect your own energy reserves and therefore have more to give to yourself and all of those around you in the appropriate moment.
- Exercise. Get moving in any which way you can. Exercise increases your endorphins, your feel good hormones, which act as a catalyst to the decreasing the detrimental side effects of stress. Exercise increases oxygen in the body, blood to the heart and overall circulation, which always leaves you feeling better and more balanced.
- Load up on Magnesium and Zinc. These 2 minerals are the first minerals that get depleted in our body when we are under the effects of stress. Loading on magnesium and zinc rich foods such as green leafy vegetables and nuts and seeds will help to put these essential nutrients back in to the body and help to restore and maintain balance.
Remember to take the time to slow down, tune in and really nourish yourself through times of stress because that is when we really need our self-care practices the most. Your body, mind and soul will thank you for it!