Contributed by Christie Berry
Stress Is Coming!
As the holidays approach, our minds and bodies begin to experience stress. We stress for good reason; shopping, traffic, family visits, finances, more shopping, meal prep, gift decisions, traveling, more shopping, sigh. Stress is not just from bad situations, there are good things that stress us, like the excitement of the holidays. Unfortunately, we are too busy to notice the stress and this is a recipe for poor health and makes us more likely to get sick due to lowered immune systems.
What is stress?
Stress is the most researched topic that interferes with wellness, health and relationship. It is responsible for 70-80% of the diseases in the US. 75-90% of all doctor visits are stress related ailments or conditions.
Externally, stress causes physical, mental or emotional responses to events that cause tension. Internally, it is the over-arousal of the adrenal system that protects the body from danger. It is characterized as over-excitement or over-involvement. The stress response is built to be short-lived and should be over in a few minutes. However, in today’s world, we have continued stress that is damaging.
Stress creates an inflammatory response that increases risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, low immune system and leaky gut. Recent research found correlations between stress and the onset of cancer.
Managing stress and Anxiety
Exercise outside to lower cortisol levels
Limit Cardio – less is more –
- Avoid prolonged high-intensity aerobic exercise as it will increase cortisol and block fat loss even though you burn calories. Keep your “steps” at no more than 10,000/day. Limit your activity to half of your maximum effort during exercise.
- Limit being sedentary for long periods of time, you do need to get up and move!
- Limit exercise after 2:00pm to stretching, yoga, or a 15 minute walk after dinner
- Monitor resting heart rate to determine too much!
- Strength training should be done only 2 times per week and for short periods of time no longer than 10 minutes. Start and finish your weight training time with a gentle 5 minute cardio like walking or jogging. Then, focus on Body-weight exercises like sit-ups, push-ups and jumping jacks. These are best done in the morning.
- Stretching is a major exercise often overlooked. Areas of tension build up and nerves called proprioceptors send tension signals to the brain. Stretching along the back is a key area that should be done daily, from the top of the neck to the back of the legs. Stretching should be done 2 seconds off and 2 seconds on and repeat to provide the best relief and loosen up the tension quickly.
- Sleep can also be disturbed but more on that later.
Low Stress Diet
Let your food be your medicine!
Reduce sodium intake to less than 3000mg/day
Foods that reduce cortisol production:
Beets, Celery, walnuts, basil, cacao bits, whole grain barley, white beans, cabbage, brazil nuts, grapefruit, maca, sesame seeds, turmeric
Foods that replace nutrients lost due to increased cortisol:
Almonds, kiwifruit, lemons, sweet potatoes, adzuki beans, bok choy, spinach, pumpkin seeds, avocado, grass-fed beef, sea salt
Foods that help with stress and fatigue:
Beets, cardamom, carob, carrots, celery, daikon radish, dandelion leaves, dulse, ginger, mulberries, tomatillos