StressI didn’t write to you last week. I was going to but I had a moment of realization that made me stop in my tracks. I began this month talking about cleansing. I started by sharing a little about how a food cleanse works and I thought I would work my way through the different areas of cleansing. As a holistic nutritionist, I look at the whole picture when thinking about our health. What we eat is obviously important, but equally important is how we are feeling when we are eating.  By that I mean, what does our daily routine look like? Are we eating regularly and engaged in the moment? Or are we eating on the run, and multitasking the whole time? What is our daily stress level like? Are we taking the time to enjoy one of our basic needs or are we just hammering through to get to the next thing?

As I rushed home from the office after a full morning, I was planning on sitting down and writing more about cleansing. It was going to be about how we nourish and take care of our skin and our homes. That was what I was going to talk about. The following week was going to be about managing stress and becoming the best you that you are meant to be. Then it hit me. I was STRESSED. Writing usually brings me pleasure. I love putting my thoughts on paper, or in this case, a computer screen. I did not want to do it though! I was working hard to convince myself that it was going to be fun.  It was then and there I decided that I needed some down time. Life has been full lately. I could list for you the reasons why, but that would be just so I could justify my feelings. The truth is, we shouldn’t feel the need to justify. If we are feeling stressed that should be enough for us to take a moment and pause. That afternoon, I chose to walk away from my computer. I made myself a hot cup of tea and just sat on the couch and stared out the window. It was marvelous!!! I took note of the budding leaves, the birds flying past my window and the horse and buggies clip clopping past my home. I sat there for quite some time. I gave myself permission to just be. I once heard someone say that we tend to forget that we are called human beings. We act like we are, ‘human doings.’

How we deal with life’s daily stressors matters a great deal in our overall health. How we deal with the little things in life that don’t go our way, prepares us for when big things go off course.

It has been estimated that 75-95% of all visits to the doctor’s office are a result of stress, either direct or indirect.

Stress can cause a perpetual lack of sleep, a tendency to eat poorly, a rise in blood pressure and negatively affects heart health. It impacts every part of our lives – physical, mental, social and emotional.

Because I care, I am sharing with you some of my best tips for managing stress. The truth is that it is an unrealistic expectation to live stress-free. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could continue to thrive during stressful situations, rather than just survive?

First and foremost! Practice good sleep hygiene. The ideal bedtime is 10 pm for most people. Our bodies do their best restorative work between 10 & 2. Good quality sleep plays a significant role in regulating blood sugar, mood and energy levels. When we are tired, we tend to crave carbohydrates and caffeine. This leads to yet another day of poor food choices just to make it through the day.

  • Go to bed and wake at the same time each day.
  • Try a few lavender drops on your pillow or rubbed on the bottom of your feet, some essential oil companies have special sleep blends. Check with a health care professional before using essential oils. There may be reasons why it may not be right for you such as pregnancy, underlying health conditions or interactions with prescribed medication.
  • Avoid screens right before bed. The light and stimulation from our hand held devices can make falling asleep a challenge.
  • Keep your bedroom free from technology.
  • Your bedroom should be dark and slightly cool.
  • Have a bath with Epsom salts. The magnesium will help relieve tired muscles and help you drift to sleep.
  • Enjoy a small cup of herbal tea such as chamomile before bed. Be careful to not drink too much, or you’ll be up again in a few hours to use the washroom!
  • If you watch television before heading for bed, be aware of what you are watching. How does it make you feel while watching it? Are you upset by the news or still trying to solve the complicated relationship issues your favourite characters are having?

 

Other  ideas…

 

  • Always remember to be kind to yourself. If you make a mistake, make it right and move on. We tend to be harder on ourselves than we would ever dream of being to others.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. It is easy to feel like you’ve failed when you can’t let things go. This is similar to the point above, but I feel it bears repeating!
  • Surround yourself with friends and loved ones.
  • Time spent in prayer or journaling can help us process the day’s events and put things into perspective.
  • Eat real food! If you are filling your body with simple carbohydrates, fast food and caffeine, you won’t have the stamina to be productive. You will make if from coffee break to coffee break all day and then feel like you need alcohol or a sleep aid to wind down. Get off this train quick and fill your body with nourishing foods that will fuel you and serve you well, right down to your very cells.
  • Be in the moment. Whether you are eating, reading to a child, talking with a friend, driving or relaxing, be in that moment. Give it your undivided attention.
  • Get outside! Nature is a natural stress reliever. Go for a walk. Dig in the dirt. Lay under a tree. Walk barefoot in the grass. Take a deep breath!
  • Move. Exercise is not only good for our physical selves. It also helps us blow off some stress. Do something you enjoy and have fun!
  • Laughter is a huge stress reliever! Watch a funny movie, be goofy or find a four year old to tell you a knock, knock joke.

 

Life is meant to be enjoyed to the fullest. If you are letting stress determine a dismal perspective, you are missing out my friend. You were created with purpose and you matter. Life can be hard. It can feel unfair. Life can also be full of joy and adventure. What are you going to do with the lemons when they are thrown your way? Grimace and expect the worst, or make lemonade?

 

Join me again next week, when we look at how to take care of our skin and our homes. Our skin is our largest organ and it is important what we choose to wash ourselves with, slather on after a shower and  highlight our best features with. It is also important what we choose to clean our clothes and homes with. I’m looking forward to sharing simple and inexpensive ways to clean up your daily routines!