Is stress affecting your health?
If you ticked 3 or more items from the checklist, it’s likely that stress is affecting your health!
Stress is one of the most commonly used words in relation to ill health and yet few really understand how far-reaching the effects can be. Stress can be physical, mental or emotional, and may be short-lived or ongoing.
The health effects may be subtle to begin with (symptoms such as irritability, headaches and low energy are common with stress overload) but if left unchecked these can eventually lead to ‘burnout’ and increased risk of chronic illness.
What can you do about it?
• Reduce caffeine & alcohol consumption
• Reduce your intake of refined sugary foods & drinks
• Follow a blood sugar balance diet
• Increase intake of magnesium-rich foods
• Include stress-busting superfoods in your diet (read on for more details)
• Magnesium is often nicknamed ‘nature’s tranquiliser’ and supports healthy sleep.
• Choose magnesium glycinate as this form is optimally absorbed. Tablets are convenient, whilst a powdered supplement is useful to supply a higher dose.
• Combinations with theanine, taurine, and glycine may give advanced support where needed.
• Identify any sources of stress and take steps to reduce these wherever you can.
• Schedule in time to relax, just like you would pencil in any other appointment.
• Do 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation daily (Apps like Headspace or Calm are great for this).
• Incorporate regular gentle exercise into your week - swimming, walking, jogging, yoga and pilates are all highly beneficial.
• Pay particular attention to sleep hygiene, for example restrict screen time before bed (read on for more suggestions).
Blood sugar balance diet:
• Start the day with breakfast and eat a meal or snack every 2-3 hours.
• Make it complex - For every meal and snack, combine carbohydrates (wholegrains, fruits & vegetables) with protein (poultry, fish, lean meat, dairy, beans, chickpeas & lentils) and fat (oily fish, nuts and seeds and their oils, avocado, olives).
Meal & sleepy snack suggestions:
• Scrambled eggs & avocado on wholegrain toast
• Carrot & lentil soup with oatcakes & cheese
• Grilled salmon, roasted vegetables, leafy greens, pine nuts & quinoa
• Oatcakes topped with nut butter & sliced banana (top sleepy snack!)
• Chopped fruit, live yoghurt, nuts, seeds & ground cinnamon
• Smoothie made with milk, plain yoghurt, frozen berries,banana, raw cacao powder & ground flaxseeds
• Routine – Develop a regular pattern to train your body to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This will help to set your body’s internal clock.
• Establish a pre-sleep routine – Develop helpful sleep rituals to remind your body it is time to sleep. For example a warm bath (add a couple of drops of lavender), breathing exercises, reading and relaxation.
• Create a sleep-inducing bedroom environment – Your bedroom should be quiet,dark, comfy, not too hot or cold and free from smartphones and tablets, work documents and clutter.
• Avoid daytime naps – If you must nap during the day, make it less than an hour and before 4pm.
• Get up & try again – If you can’t sleep after 20 mins, get up and do something quiet and restful, such as reading in dim light, then try again.
How to make changes that last:
• Make it public – Tell other people your plans.
• Be specific & set a timeline – Work out what, how and when you’re going to change.
• One small step at a time – Change is infectious, one change soon leads to another and more. Start small with something you absolutely cannot fail at.
• Feedback / accountability – Track your own progress (pen & paper, app etc.) and find a buddy who will hold you accountable.
• Change your environment to match your goals. For example, if you don’t want to drink wine in the evening, don’t meet your friends in the pub. If you want to take a daily magnesium supplement, place the tub on the kitchen worktop as a visual reminder each morning.
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