Stress is such a common place issue now that many people have accepted it as just a way of life. But it doesn’t need to be this way! Changes to diet and lifestyle can lead to major improvements in how your body copes with stress.

 

We usually associate stress with mental health, but everytime we are stressed this sets off a chain of physiological events in the body known as the fight flight response.

This response evolved to help us deal with threatening situations, the classic example being faced with a tiger. However in modern day life threats tend to be less physical such as running late, an argument, deadlines at work, a busy social life or expecting too much from ourselves. Even thinking about something stressful can elicit a flight or fight response.

 

Stress can have multiple effects on the body as the body and mind are two sides of the same coin. The stress hormone cortisol can cause sugar cravings and emotional eating leading to weight gain around the stomach area. Stress also takes a toll on the digestive system, immune system, cardiovascular system and nervous sytem. If prolonged stress continues this may even begin to upset the circadian rhythm in the body effecting sleeping patterns.

 

But don’t let this stress you more! Simple changes to your diet and lifestyle can help your body deal with stress in a much more efficient way, and these changes are also likely to have significant benefits in other areas of your health and wellbeing.

 

Learning to relax is a really important skill. We often think of watching TV or hanging out with friends as relaxing, but true physiological relaxation is a set of specific internal changes that occur when the mind and the body are calm. It’s not the same as sleep, rest or having fun.  

Breathing is a good place to start. We all have our own unique breathing rhythm when at rest (just like we have our unique fingerprints). Find your rhythm. When you are stressed, angry or emotional you tend to breathe faster. By becoming aware of this and dropping back into your natural rhythm calmness will come.

The slower you breathe the more relaxed and present you can be. Breathing into he chest we tend to be more emotional, whereas breathing in the belly connects us more.

Breathing is an easy way to bring you back to the present moment anytime.

Take 5 minutes now and try to find your unique breathing pattern now.