Remember a time in your life when you were feeling really good? What systems did you have in place that got you there? Perhaps you were doing a fantastic job at avoiding sugar, going on weekend hikes, and prioritizing getting to bed on time. Typically most of us at least have a few good routines in place that keep us from hitting rock bottom. Some of us have actually hit rock bottom and are looking for a change. Keeping a holistic and comprehensive lifestyle is key to supporting a strong resilience to stress, but the hard part is knowing what to prioritize for stress reduction.
- Keep Moving
- Experts recommend 150 minutes of physical activity per week for 10 weeks or more to greatly support mood health. Aside from the physical health benefits, exercise is core to making sure you have a strong resilience to stress. Exercise has been shown to aid tryptophan delivery to the brain. This amino acid is important for serotonin production which is associated with controlling mood and sleep.
- Eat Whole Foods
- Ensuring your body has enough protein from whole foods is so important when wanting to keep up a stable mood. Blood sugar swings can be detrimental to your mood. An easy way to avoid this is by ensuring that whenever you have a carbohydrate that you combine it with a protein. So instead of just eating oatmeal, eat a couple eggs with it. This extra protein will slow the breakdown of the carbohydrate and ensure a smooth and steady release of energy into your bloodstream. You can also aim to eat more protein specifically in the morning. This avoids anxiety which is related to low blood sugar and sugar crashes.
- Nature Time
- Spending time in nature has been shown to benefit overall health and mood. Research shows that just 2 hours a week in nature can leave one feeling calmer and more connected. Trees release an organic compound called phytoncides. This compound may have real health benefits. Researchers showed that after spending time in nature around trees participants had lower blood pressure and lower heart rates.
- Quality Sleep
- Plenty of research is coming out around sleep and how it is linked to poor stress resilience. Consistent sleep deprivation is shown to increase the risk of developing depression and other mood disorders. Be sure to limit the amount of light you are exposed to at night, engage in non stimulating activities before bed, drink warm herbal tea, and dose up on magnesium before bed. A good physical setting will keep you sleeping comfortably. For example, try installing light blocking shades and keep your room cool. Having a good night time routine is important when aiming to get quality sleep.
- Stress Negating Activities
- Stress negating activities can help to balance out the scales and leave you feeling a bit lighter. Watching funny movies or media that is light hearted will help surround you with positive mindsets. Laughing does wonders for our emotional wellbeing. Meditation and yoga is another great option to help unwind tension and calm the mind.
It is okay to be lacking in one category from time to time. Wellness and the capacity to maintain it waxes and wanes. What is important is to keep striving for a balance in all five categories. This will keep you from draining your reserves. Ultimately you should be feeling more resilient to stress and feeling less the impact stress has on our mind and bodies.
Katie Steffensen, LAc MS EAMP