This post originally appeared in the Family Doctors Plus website
To live a calmer and happier life it is essential to control our stress levels.
Many mums these days feel stressed; they are rushing from one thing to the next, juggling many roles, multitasking. This stress manifests itself in many different ways such as waking up tired day after day, carrying excess weight, pain , depression, anxiety, mood swings, sugar cravings and illness. Research also tells us that stress is responsible for 80 per cent of disease and illness.
Here are 3 ways to manage stress better:
1. Find a balance
Stress occurs when we haven't taken the time to slow down to rest and restore. In nature, everything exists in balance; dark and light, night and day, summer and winter, hot and cold, earth and sea, expansion and contraction.
So how can you find your own balance if you are rushing all the time, looking after everybody else and on the go?
-Take some time to slow down during the day, to take some deep breaths and to bring your awareness to the present. This may be taking a walk outside, write in a journal , do a guided meditation or lie on a mat and do some stretches.
-Do something fun!
- Chat to a friend who makes you laugh
-Take up a restorative practice such as yin yoga, tai chi or pilates.
2. Live life according to your values
Stress occurs when we live by other people's values or when we are being driven by fear. In order to decrease the stress in your life, find out what your top values are so that you can live by them everyday and take action steps everyday that are in alignment to your values.
-Make a list of your top 15 values and why they are important to you. For example, if having the energy to play with your children is important to you, then eating a healthy diet will help support that. Once you know that this is important to you then you'll know to prioritise time to make healthy meals.
-Be mindful of your language: anytime you find yourself thinking or saying "I should", "I need to" or "I have to to" you are not living by your own values. Go into detective mode
if you hear yourself saying these phrases and work out what is behind it, is it fear or is it someone else's values? What are your set of values around this? For example, I'll never say "I have to do pilates" because I truly love it but if someone had told me to do 100 burpees my language would be completely different!
3. Eat a nourishing diet
Stop eating packaged foods as they add to the stress that your body is already under and eat real foods instead. Packaged foods are foods which are nutritionally deficient due to their processing. They contain toxic additives and preservatives which add to the the toxic load, and thus the stress on our liver and digestive system. Eat real foods instead.
Real foods are foods which come from nature: our bodies have evolved to digest them and get the energy and nutrients we need to thrive. This includes fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes, animal proteins from animals which have been humanely raised and fed their natural diet and seafood.
To change to a whole foods diet:
-Avoid foods which are highly refined and processed such as cereal, margarine, chips and biscuits
-Learn to cook with whole food ingredients
-Research whole foods recipes
-Fill your plate so that its half vegetables
-Avoid eating sugar as sugar up-regulates the stress response
-Include healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds and natural oils such as butter and olive oil. This will increase your absorption of fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A, D, E and K and will add to the flavour and satiety of your meals.
Try to implement some of the ideas which work for you. Start with one thing at a time. If you need guidance, Beatrice can coach you through making these changes. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .