the stress effect
Author: Angela Senese (Nutritional Therapist at Ebb&Flow)
A few years ago, I attended a 10-day Vipassana meditation course. The beauty of these courses is that they are silent. Complete silence of body and mind.
I was in my mid 30s and by then the weight of modern living was very tangible, at least to me. I needed something to take me away from the noise, the rush, the achieving, the expectation of perfection and the need to appear ok to the world around me. It was such a life changing experience and if I can take one thing away from it to share with you today, it is the concept of stressors and our ability to manage our reaction to them.We will always be surrounded by whatever makes us stressed.
Life can be a tough gig but as my Vipassana teacher told me, “the road might be full of pebbles, but if you wear shoes you can walk over them without hurting your feet.” So, it’s not necessarily about the surroundings, it is also about us: are we wearing the right shoes?
How can we make ourselves a pair of tough and resilient shoes? Shoes that make us connected to the ground and able to feel the pebbles, without being too stressed by them.The food we eat, our lifestyle, and our support network all play a role.
Several studies suggest that incorporating healthy foods and a variety of nutrients into our diet plays an important role in reducing stress and improving emotional well-being. In fact, a randomised controlled trial published in the British Journal of Health Psychology found that a Mediterranean-style diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources led to significant reductions in anxiety and perceived stress compared to a control group. (1)
While a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, anchovies etc, led to reduced cortisol levels and improved stress responses in a group of medical students. (2)
Similarly, many studies also suggest that lifestyle factors like mindfulness, exercise, yoga, and social support can play an important role in better managing the physical and emotional effects of stress…
Stress is such a broadly used word – how do we know whether we are stressed? And whether it is stress driving our symptoms?
When it came to her lifestyle…
The priority was addressing the cortisol peaks in the evening. Gaia was having her HIIT and cardio classes in the evening, so even though she was able to fall asleep exhausted, her sleep was very disrupted and she was not waking up feeling rested.
Yoga and more restorative practice were introduced in her evening and bed time routine, while cardio activities were moved to earlier in the day. We also made sure she had rest days to boost recovery, and exposure to nature and time for herself were added to the plan.
Gaia felt so much better after following these simple initial recommendations and she is thriving now.
1. (Molendijk et al., 2018)
2. (Delarue et al., 2003)
3. (Gerber et al., 2011)
4. (Rhodes et al., 2015)
Originally published: https://nutrimente.co.uk/is-stress-in-the-driving-seat/