It’s hard to define what stress is, because it is a highly subjective experience and when we think of stress we typically are thinking of distress, rather than simply the body’s response to a demand for change.
Stress on the body can come in many forms from emotional, physical, environmental and spiritual stress. We all have some stress on the body, but if we don’t have the resources in our body to deal with it, it can take a huge toll on our body.
The Upside of Stress
Some people actually perform better or experience improved health when exposed to appropriate stress, such as exercising or under some level of pressure to perform at work that leads to increased motivation. The most recent scientific research reveals that stress can make you smarter, stronger, and more successful. It helps you learn and grow. It can even inspire courage and compassion.
We cannot prevent it or avoid it, we need it. Stress is like the oil in your car, it’s promoting movement but needs to be monitored and managed appropriately; it can get too hot if our engines are running too hard.
Here are 4 action steps you can take to make stress work in your favor:
1. CHANGE YOUR MIND ABOUT STRESS
Recognize stress as a physical sign that something meaningful is at the plate. Stress is telling you to take action by actually changing your physical state.
Next time you’re feeling anxious, try standing like Superman or Superwoman, hands on hips, with your chin up, and allow yourself to rise to the occasion.
2. MINDFULNESS & MEDITATION
Engaging in mind-body practices is even more important these days. These practices include things like meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, running, and tai chi. Breathing is a major issue for people. Many have shallow breaths by default. Being aware of your breath and breathing through your nose to fill up your diaphragm can do wonders.
Meditation can be helpful in freeing up extra energy and space that’s being slowed down by too many thoughts in our heads. Try meditating in a peaceful environment for 10-20 minutes a day.
3. GOOD NUTRITION & ADAPTOGENS
You need to make sure you’re eating nutrient dense meals with adequate amounts of calories, fat, protein and carbohydrates to provide your body with the nutrition it needs to heal and the adaptogens needed to help respond and reduce stress. Under-eating is a stressor in itself. Do your homework to determine if you’re eating the appropriate amount of calories and nutrients to fuel your activity.
Get 1-2 servings of dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale and Swiss chard, paired up with Omega 3’s and healthy fats in the form of salmon, sardines or avocado, seeds, and nuts. You can also add adaptogenic herbs including: Ginseng, Arctic Root, Rhodiola, Ashwaganda, Licorice root, Holy Basil and Maca.
4. GET SOME QUALITY REST AND RECOVERY (SLEEP IMPROVEMENT)
Sleep is a necessary human function which allows our brains to recharge and our bodies to rest. Without the necessary amount of sleep, it can increase our state of stress.
Sleep in a cool, pitch-dark room, and limit exposure to light emitting devices when the sun goes down. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night, every night.
We know that challenges in life lead to experience and growth, so begin at your own pace and discover the upside to stress.
Jason Sani is the author of Making Healthy Taste Good. He is a trained and licensed Culinary Nutritionist that has worked in the athletics and sports medicine industry for over 10 years. Jason practices what he preaches and leads an energetic lifestyle by example. His focus is Nutrition and training towards the active population. Jason is a resource of inspiration while spreading energy in and out of the mind and body. Follow him on Instagram: @jasonsani