10 Food-As-Medicine Lifestyle Habits to Reduce StressNov 18, 2019
Let’s talk about another foundational Food-As-Medicine lifestyle intervention that will provide you with nourishment from the end of your fork, and beyond.
Last time we looked at why it’s important to use foods before supplements to maximize your health and wellness. There is definitely power in numbers, and one isolated nutrient can’t always provide the synergy that comes from getting that same nutrient in combination with other compounds like protein, phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
And now, for door number 2!
Balance your active lifestyle with restorative stress management and recovery!
It might go something like this:
You: “Hey! How have you been?”
BFF: ”Busy! Just so, so busy. I’ve been going non-stop and can’t seem to catch a break. And then Jackie asked me to help with the meeting, so I now I need to…..”
How many times have you been in that convo, or been the one to give the raging “busy” response? No one can go full speed ahead 24/7, yet we live in a culture that applauds jam-packed calendars, salutes those who survive on 4 hours of sleep, and congratulates the people who “do it all.” Don’t you dare let those be badges of honor for you, my friend!
Conditions like insomnia, anxiety, racing thoughts, reflux, and other digestive disorders have become the norm rather than the rarity in our over-scheduled, maxed-out world. Just check out the over-the-counter medications for a peek into what ails us most.
#Spoileralert: we’re in pain, we need sleep, and our hearts are burnin’ (and I don’t mean with love)!
All those conditions and symptoms have one common denominator. Yep, stress!
Stress is an overused descriptive and under-addressed symptom of life today.
It looks totally different for you than it does for me, but one thing’s for sure: sustained stress and a chronic over-active lifestyle interferes with every aspect of your health. Left unchecked, the complications of prolonged stress will wreak havoc at a deep level.
Heightened and unmanaged stress:
- increases inflammation and contributes to short- and long-term illness
- contributes to autoimmune disease
- increases heartburn and inhibits proper digestion and elimination
- prevents your body from using the nutrients you’re trying to give it
- increases food cravings
- prevents restorative sleep
- increases blood sugar
- causes headaches and mood changes
- increases blood pressure
- sends hormones out of whack
- just makes you feel like a whole lot of the time!
Y’all! That’s no way to live!
Stress in and of itself is a risk for disease, and with a list of symptoms like those, stress can probably be considered a disease in and of itself.
So, now what? Should you quit your job, clear your calendar, shut the blinds, cuddle up with Netflix, and a box of chocolates….on a deserted tropical island, of course?
Just in case that’s not an option, here are 10 food-as-medicine lifestyle habits to reduce stress that might be a little easier to add into your day:
- Controlled, deep, intentional breathing: breath in for 4, hold for 7, and exhale slowly for 8. Too much? Just take some slow, deep breaths a few times a day.
- Gratitude journaling: write out 3-5 things each day that you’re grateful for.
- Saying NO: especially to things that don’t fill you with joy. You have my permission.
- Meditation or prayer: find a quiet time each day to look inward and send praise upward for the gifts you've been given and the gift that you are to others.
- Restorative movements: yoga, tai chi, or walking are great ones to start with. Find what works for you! There are no rules about the right kind of movement.
- Take a long hot shower or bath: bubbles are optional but encouraged.
- Spend time with people who lift you up: find these people, spend time with them, and communicate with them often.
- Spend time in nature: even looking at a picture of nature has been shown to provide healing and restorative benefits.
- Fill in your blank here: suggestions are great, but you know you. You know what calms you, what restores you, what recharges you, what ignites your joy. Do that, and do it often.
And here’s the past and probably most important one.
Give yourself permission.
Permission to be YOU, just you.
No one’s expectation of you including the unrealistic one you have for yourself most days.
Give yourself permission to dedicate time for the things that provide self-love so you can be filled with more of the real, restored YOU that others want and need.
And do it again tomorrow, and the next day. Feed yourself a little of this intentional, restorative nutrient every day.
What are your favorite ways to reduce and manage stress in your day-to-day? And if you don’t have one, what are your biggest challenges to incorporating that? I’d love to hear and support you as you find ways to sprinkle your days with this very essential nutrient. You’ll be amazed at the life it adds back in!
Keep coming back for more practical food-as-medicine lifestyle recommendations that can help you harness the healing power at the end of your fork, and beyond!
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