This week’s tip is related to something that affects us all. Stress!! I’m here to let you know that even though you might be stressed to the max right now, there are still small, practical steps you can take to cope with that stress and stay healthy. Can I get a woot-woot!
If you’d rather listen than read, the Facebook live recording is located at the bottom of this post.
But first, why am I talking about stress and how do these go hand in hand?
Like it’s not enough to live with stress, now I’ve got to be talking about it too?!
Agh… not fun…!!!
But the truth is that it’s important to acknowledge stress so you can reduce it or cope with it a little better.
Think of it like aiming for a 1% improvement… you may not be able to change the stressors in your life, but if you can manage the impact on your body 1% better, then you’ll stay healthier and more able to handle the stress.
I thought so!
Helping my clients manage their stress is one of the most important things I do.
What goes through your mind when you hear that? That I help my clients destress?
Before your mind starts going down the rabbit hole that “you’re always going to have stress so how can I help people “de-stress”?” You’re right!
You will always have stress; it’s impossible not to have any. I help my clients deal with it better and differentiate between what’s worthy of ‘stressing’ over and what’s out of their control so why freak out. Make sense?
Truth: what are some of the effects of stress on your body?
I’m the first person to pretend that stress is no big deal, so if you’re like me, then the two of us need to have a “Come to Buddha” moment and get real about how stress IS affecting our bodies….
- Stress increases cortisol production associated with weight gain (especially in the belly), an inability to lose weight or gain muscle and premature aging.
- Stress decreases nutrient absorption due to decreased enzymatic production from the stomach, pancreas, and liver and decreases bile flow from the gallbladder.
- It increases nutrient excretion such as urinary loss of calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, chromium, selenium and microminerals.
- Stress decreases gut flora populations by destroying healthy intestinal bacteria and can lead to immune problems, skin disorders, nutrient deficiencies, and digestive distress.
- Stress increases salt retention which can lead to high blood pressure.
- Stress decreases the thyroid hormone which can negatively affect your metabolism.
- It decreases sex hormones which leads to loss of libido and low energy.
- Stress releases hormones that provide immediate energy so you can remain ‘safe.’
- Stress directs blood flow away from digestion and to the arms and legs.
- Stress causes the digestive system to shut down.
Let’s look at the digestive side of these stress effects. If you’re being chased by a wild animal, like a bear, you won’t have the time or energy to devote to digesting your tuna sandwich.
Here’s the important part to remember, the brain can’t differentiate between real and imagined stress.
Imagine you’re running from the bear above. Omg, that’s terrifying! Your mind’s racing, you hear it racing after you, it’s panting. It sounds like it’s getting closer. You’re arms and legs are pumping as fast as they can, you’re literally running for your life.
Now imagine a typical day at work, like trying to scarf down anything for lunch, trying to get a bunch of stuff done, maybe you’re late for a meeting or appointment. Great, one more thing just got added to your to-do list. Why is he (or she) such an ass!? Your minds racing, your heart’s racing to keep up and all you can think about is making it through another crazy day and omg I forgot to pee! I have to get out of here on time today!
Both of these situations initiate the stress response which includes digestive shut down.
Now imagine it’s morning and you’re running out the door and shoving a muffin or smoothie down your throat. Or when you’re crazy busy at work, and you just want to eat your lunch that you packed so carefully. Or driving in terrible traffic and that guy ahead just won’t get out of your way. Or you’re late for an appointment, and you’re scarfing down a power bar.
To the body, this is all the same as running from a bear.
The stress response is going, going, going because your body doesn’t realize it’s not life-threatening. So, if you’ve ever felt that a meal is just chillin’ like a lump in your stomach, that’s because it is.
It’s waiting to get the green light to digest, and that can’t happen until the body can move out of stress and into relaxation. As you can see, this stress response dramatically affects how we digest everything that crosses our lips and how we go about our life.
How can I reduce or cope better with stress?
Remember, since we can’t always control the stress in our lives, the goal is to reduce our experience of stress by even 1%.
Related article: These Simple Stress Tools Can Help You Show Up For Yourself
Here are 5 ways you can do that, starting NOW:
- Look at your calendar for the next 7 days. What’s one activity you’ve committed to that you can cancel?
- Look at your to-do list. What’s one item you can delegate to someone else in the next 24 hours?
- Consider your schedule today. Where can you fit in 20 minutes for yourself —where you’re not taking care of anyone else or being “productive”—so you can just relax and play and do something mindless?
- Look at your calendar for tomorrow. Where can you fit in a 10-minute walk or Frisbee toss in your backyard? The fresh air and movement will help you cope waaay better with stress.
- Before your next meal, try what I call the “5-5-7” breath. Inhale for a count of 5, hold your breath for a count of 5, then exhale for a count of 7. Repeat at least 3 times. This breathing gives your body a chance to relax before your meal, which will increase your digestive capacity and help your body pull more nutrients from the food you’re eating.
Related article: 2 Easy Ways to Calm Your Body and Mind…
Eating healthy food and taking healthy actions are only half the equation to live healthfully.
Whoa. That’s a huge shift! When I first heard this, I was confused. They say to lose weight, get healthy or whatever has to do with what we eat, exercise this much and this and that.
Those things are great, don’t get me wrong. But you can do all those recommended things, eat the healthiest foods, and take awesome care of yourself but if you’re constantly under stress, it won’t work.
The deprivation won’t work.
Countless hours in the gym won’t work.
Punishing yourself for looking at that brownie won’t work.
You have to have the healthy food and lifestyle choices, plus creating the ideal digestion and ideal assimilation state, which is relaxation.
This is huge!!
It’s only when you put these two halves of the equation together that you get the best health and life.
Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m so frustrated, I’m confused, I’m eating healthy and exercising and taking care of myself; why am I still having the problems I’m having?”
I’ll take a stab at it and say it’s because they’re not allowing relaxation any room in the picture and their stress response is always on, and they don’t know how to turn it off.
What do I do now?
Try one, or two, or all of the tips listed above!
If you feel too stressed to relax, and you KNOW it’s affecting your health, your weight and your energy levels, then click here to schedule a powerful coaching experience with me to discover how you can reduce or cope better with the stress in your life.
I’ve helped tons of clients solve this problem, and the chances are excellent that I can help you, too.
To your health!