Stress has a huge impact on our immune system, nervous system, skin and hormonal health, basically every cell of our body gets affected. And on our mind as well!
But we often don't realise how many daily actions can contribute to stress or the common stressors in our modern lives that are not easily seen and can secretly sabotage our health.
Here's 5 of the main ones and how to avoid them.
Refined sugar and artificial sweeteners cause spikes in blood sugar. Raised blood sugar levels stimulate the release of cortisol, the main stress hormone in the body.
These fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin levels and constant state of elevated cortisol contribute to chronic stress and can lead to irritability and poor concentration.
Avoid adding sugar to your daily cuppa and swap processed biscuits and cakes for some made with wholesome sweeteners like coconut sugar and brown rice syrup. They have a lower glycemic index and won’t spike blood sugar so much. Or simply snack on fruit, fresh or dried and some good quality dark chocolate to carb cravings.
Caffeine stimulates your nervous system and too much can lead to a rapid heartbeat and increase in blood pressure which causes the release of cortisol as well. Additionally, excess caffeine can interfere with sleep and trigger dehydration, which can deplete you of energy and cause headaches and fatigue even if it initially gives you an instant boost.
Reduce to one cup a day in the morning and experiment with herbal teas or roasted chicory and dandelion coffees. Also try out matcha lattes. Matcha still contains a bit of caffeine but a slower release giving you steady energy plus an injection of powerful antioxidants.
Alcohol stimulates the production of the same hormones the body produces when under stress. Alcohol can actually prolong feelings of tension brought on by stress, and stress can reduce the pleasant effects of alcohol and spike cravings for more. Like caffeine, alcohol is also dehydrating and can interfere with sleep.
Try having wine or cocktails only few days a week and stick to one drink. It will the perfect balance between enjoying the relaxing effects of a glass of red and not overdoing it so that it actually starts having a negative effect.
Sitting all day
When sitting, the spine is under a lot of pressure and as our bodies were made to stand, maintaining the seated position is physically stressful. Desk jobs and long hours in the office often result in herniated discs, nerve problems, painful joints and chronic pain putting a huge mental and physical stress on our bodies. To combat this stress, stand at least every hour at your desk, do simple stretches throughout the day such as placing your hands on your lower back and stretching backwards, make calls on your feet, walk up and down the hall, or get up every now and then to grab a cup of tea or a glass of water.
Lack of sleep
After a sleepless night, you may be more irritable, tired, and vulnerable to stress. While once you sleep well, your mood often returns to normal. Stress also affects sleep by making the body more awake and alert. People who are under constant stress or who have abnormally exaggerated responses to stress tend to have sleep problems. As you can see there is of vicious cycle going on.
In order to break it, make sure to create a bedtime routine to allow the body and mind to relax and prepare to sleep. Switch of electronics half an hour to an hour before bed, read or listen to music, drink a cup of herbal tea like chamomile and take a nice relaxing bath. You can also try some guided relaxation or mediation to wind down and ensure a restful sleep and a stress free wakening.