Unfortunately, today, there are very few of us who have not experienced some form of stress at some time or another in our lifetime.From work pressures to a lack of sufficient support network around us, to exposure to toxins and poor nutrition. Stress comes in many forms. If left untreated, this continuous stress can have a detrimental impact on our health and well-being and dramatically increase our risk of developing chronic illnesses in the future.
However, there are lots of things we can do to help minimize the impact stress has on our bodies and overall well-being:
Epsom salt baths – soak 20 mins 2-3 times per week
When we are stressed, we leak magnesium from our bodies, therefore our bodies can need for magnesium. Magnesium is essential for our overall health and longevity. Epsom salts are rich in magnesium and bathing in them allows us to absorb the magnesium through our skin, helping to replenish the magnesium lost through stress. Magnesium has a calming effect on the nervous system and therefore helps to promote relaxation, amongst many other benefits.
Take regular gentle exercise e.g. walking in nature, swimming, yoga
When we are under prolonged stress it can put a strain on our adrenal glands. Our adrenals are responsible for our fight or flight stress response and the release of stress hormones. When they are under strain, vigorous exercise can do more harm than good as it can stimulate the adrenals to release yet more stress hormones.
However, low to moderate forms of exercise are beneficial in helping to relieve stress, without putting too much strain on the adrenal glands. Exercise encourages the release of chemicals in the brain called endorphins, which act as natural pain killers, reducing pain and stress and making us feel happier
Make time to switch your Autonomic nervous system (ANS) from sympathetic to parasympathetic – yoga and meditation is great for this! Try mindfulness apps or guided meditation on your phone e.g. Headspace
The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) triggers our bodies fight or flight response when faced with an immediate threat (e.g. being chased by a tiger). It provides us with the extra energy and alertness needed for a short period, to allow us to escape the immediate threat and promotes the release of adrenaline from the Adrenal glands.
However, to do this, many other systems of the body all must adapt e.g. digestion slows down, blood pressure increases etc. This is fine for short periods of time, but can have a detrimental impact on our health if we spend too much time in sympathetic mode, which unfortunately is all too common amongst people with such busy lives today.
The parasympathetic nervous system (PSN) encourages our bodies to rest, digest and recover, so it is important we do what we can to encourage our bodies to switch from SNS to PNS. Activities such as yoga and meditation are effective in switching our ANS from SNS to PNS.
Spend time doing things you enjoy, make time for family and friends and try to strive for a good, or at least improved work / life balance
Doing things we enjoy and spending time around people we love is fantastic for aiding relaxation and helping us to achieve a good work / life balance.
Try to make sure you get regular, good quality sleep – ideally 8 hours per night
So many of us these days’ struggle to find the time for sufficient sleep, or to achieve good quality sleep. Sleep gives our bodies time to recover and regenerate and all the points above may help you to achieve this!
by Lara Seago
Lara has always had an interest in natural health and nutrition and graduated from the College of Naturopathic Medicine in Naturopathic Nutritional Therapy. She is passionate about improving people’s health and lives, using food, natural supplements, lifestyle advice and functional testing. Laura is also member of the Pulsin’ Nutritionist Programme...