Stress can suck. There I said it…. Now, I’m not talking about the situational stress that we need so that we can have the quick reflexes to get out of danger (i.e. a car accident), I’m talking about the chronic stress that’s around all of the time because of work, road rage, lack of sleep, rushing to kid activities, general busy stressful lives, etc.
When stress is a constant in our lives, it can negatively impact our energy levels, mental clarity, and well-being as a whole. We can combat these effects and restore our energy by understanding stress and using effective stress management strategies.
Even with a healthy diet, chronic stress can disrupt our digestive system, leading to issues such as diarrhea or constipation. These disruptions not only affect our daily lives but can also result in nutritional deficiencies. Plus, chronic stress can upset the balance of gut microbes, causing inflammation and contributing to various health problems. In some cases, it may even lead to a small leak in the digestive system, further exacerbating inflammation and compounding the health issues.
The immune system (did you know that about 80% of its function is around the digestive tract?) can be negatively affected by chronic stress. So, our immune response may become hypervigilant, leading to excessive inflammation, making us more vulnerable to diseases.
Stress often triggers cravings for comfort foods high in sugar and fat as a natural response to seek temporary relief. However, indulging in stress-induced overeating can disrupt our healthy eating patterns and contribute to weight gain.
When stress occurs, our blood sugar levels rise to prepare for a “fight, flight or freeze” response. However, without corresponding physical activity to utilize the increased sugar, our bodies end up storing it as fat, particularly around the waist. This can result in weight gain and an elevated risk of developing insulin resistance.
Chronic stress can have a negative impact on our mood and motivation, making it more challenging to maintain healthy routines and engage in self-care activities essential for our well-being.
Poor sleep quality contributes to low energy levels, mood changes, and reduced motivation to maintain a healthy lifestyle by disrupting our sleep-wake cycle. Basically, power sleep increases stress and stress decreases sleep, it’s a bit of a vicious cycle.
Learning to say “no,” delegating tasks, focusing on one thing at a time, and renegotiating unrealistic deadlines can help manage stress levels. Rebalancing demands can significantly reduce the stress burden in our lives.
Engaging in activities that bring joy and laughter and spending time with loved ones, including pets, can help alleviate stress. Remember, happiness is a great stress-reliever.
Quality sleep can drastically improve your mood, energy levels, and overall health. Create a relaxing bedtime routine and ensure your sleep environment is conducive to restful sleep.
Mindfulness practices such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, along with regular self-care activities such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, or getting a massage, can help manage stress levels.
Maintain a balanced diet rich in nutrients and stay hydrated. Regular physical activity is another crucial factor in managing stress and maintaining overall health.
Let me know which ones you’re struggling with and what you’re going to start doing instead.
Kelly (Head Nerd Mom)