Chilled out? Easier said than done. When the pressure is on, real or perceived our bodies react and often not in our best interests.
For an ever-increasing number of us this stress reaction is often and unrelenting. We have continual deadlines we put ourselves under, often with cash-flow worries and are time-poor to name but a few.
When we’re stressed many people use food as a sedative. It gives us that soporific feeling, but this is only temporary with the long-term effects of using food as a coping mechanism being disastrous on many levels.
I am sure you know that when you’re stressed the ‘flight or fight’ psychological reaction tumbles out. Adrenaline and cortisol pump through our blood stream with our heart rate increasing, our blood sugar and fat levels rise, senses sharpen, and we are ready for action.
What is important to remember is these stress hormones, if not used up, keep us in a cycle of stress which often leads to cravings, deposition of fat and our behaviours often become reactive. Plus, cortisol can trigger food cravings by stimulating a hunger chemical in the brain which means managing stress has a direct benefit for weight loss. Many business owners in particular do struggle with their weight with many studies linking this weight gain to a body overloaded with cortisol.
My 4 hot tips for managing your stress so you too can be chilled out.
Physical activity. If you’re not into exercise it’s time to think about what you can do. It is too important to ignore. Go for a walk first up in the morning, lunch time, after work or later in the evening. It doesn’t matter when, but it does matter that you do it.
Mindfulness. We don’t need more coffee, what we need is the opposite. Try to be mindful with what you are doing, thinking and feeling. But when you do have your coffee, just sit and focus on enjoying it. Savour the warmth, the taste and feel it run down your throat. Try doing the same with your food. Chew it slowly, notice the textures and enjoy the pleasure of eating.
Meditation. Just even for a few quiet moments when you open your eyes in the morning. Think about your day, visualise yourself in a calm manner thinking clearly as you work through your day. When chaos or stress shows up try to take yourself back to the calm place in your mind you created that morning.
Food is fuel. You only get one body so fuel it well and have it working in pristine condition. You wouldn’t put sub-standard fuel in your car so why put it into your body. Be smart about planning ahead and have healthy, whole foods at hand. When the pressure is on you don’t have to think what to eat. Try and stay away from processed foods, artificial sweeteners, sugar, too much coffee (argh, that one’s tough) and of course alcohol and tobacco.
Females in particular are renowned for putting themselves last. Self-care is critical to be working at your potential. There will be times when you lose sight of what is important so now is a good time to cultivate strategies to reach for when times are tough, and stress is winning.
Stay strong and let’s grow together remembering kind is a BIG word.