Most of us experience some level of stress in our lives - it's inevitable. Stress can stem from a multitude of experiences or interactions, responsibilities, or everyday life situations. Some stress is normal. However, too much stress over time can impact overall health and wellness. It's important to find healthy ways to manage stress while also maintaining a balance throughout your life with nutrition, exercise, social interactions, work, and relationships. We can't eliminate stress entirely, but we can manage our level of overall stress. Here are three healthy ways to help manage stress.
1. EAT A BALANCED DIET
The body may respond to stress in many ways, including possible changes in appetite. Emotional eating is common during stressful times and many individuals may turn to comfort foods like cookies and chocolate. On the opposite side of the spectrum, a decrease in appetite may also be a result of stress. However, it's important to consume a nutrient-rich diet that includes wholesome foods like lean proteins, fish, dairy products, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Try to diversify your nutrient intake with a balanced and varied diet. Include nutrients that support immune health, such as vitamin A, C, E, D, zinc and protein. Keep nutritious snacks (protein + complex carbohydrate) available as a quick and satisfying snack such as think protein bars!
2. PRIORITIZE EXERCISE
Regular physical activity is essential for optimal health, physically and emotionally. Exercise can help to modulate levels of stress hormones. Aerobic activities, such as walking, biking, or jogging can serve as a form of moving meditation for some people. Ever heard of the term "runner's high?" This is when the body releases neurotransmitters called endorphins, which may produce a temporary feeling of wellbeing. If you don't like endurance type of activities - that's okay. All forms of activity are acceptable. You don't need a gym or treadmill to get moving. Physical activity can include walking the dog or working on home improvement projects and chores. Keep moving to help keep stress down.
3. MAKE TIME FOR YOU
Make time for yourself! This is so important, but something we often forget to do. We can easily become overwhelmed in everyday responsibilities - leaving little-to-no time for ourselves. Take a break from all your responsibilities and take a moment to relax and reflect. This can be as simple as taking five to ten minutes. Engage in activities that make you happy and that you truly enjoy. It can be as simple as reading a book, listening to and dancing like no one's watching! We all have hobbies even if nothing comes to mind right away. Think back to a time that you found joy in something and get into it (painting, puzzles, crafts, learning, reading, baking, or cooking). We all have a little something that can make us smile. Relax. Find what makes you smile.