We live in a stressed out modern society, it is even more necessary to obtain nutritionally dense food and take care of our health. Stress is insidious; constantly drawing on our health reserves, and – from years of clinical observation – underscores or contributes to the vast majority of modern illness. In a healthy individual, acute stress, which can manifest as anxiety, irritation, panic attacks, lack of sleep, sensitivity, overwhelm, pain, fatigue, forgetfulness, angriness or impatience, is speedily resolved. It’s when stress evolves into a long-standing, chronic condition that it becomes detrimental. How does stress tax our body? “I like to use the analogy of a bank account. We are each born with a unique nutrition and health ‘savings account’ – some are granted extra funds (via genetics, early diet, happiness, a healthy environment) while others enter the world already depleted. Each time we experience stress it draws on our reserves, syphoning credit away and gradually eating into our squirrelled stash. Eventually we enter the red – the timing is different for everyone, and once ‘bankrupt’, illness can emerge. ~ words from I am Food – Eating Your Way To Health.
A daily self-care practise brings us back to presence, out of the stressed-out mind and into the moment. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system which is the counterbalance to the fight-flight response. It restores the body to a state of calm. Here are some easy tips to integrate self-care into your life.
- NOURISH replace processed foods with fresh, organic, seasonal foods. Eating seasonally allows us to better connect with the seasons as they occur naturally and supports our bodies to be more in tune with nature.
- CHEW food until liquid. Eat SLOWLY. This supports digestion - the extraction of nutrients and absorption, helps alleviate bloating and tummy discomfort. Proper digestion creates energy.
- Eat in a RELAXED state. During stress, blood flow shunts away from the digestive system to areas of the body that deal with the fight – flight response. Proper digestion and absorption requires a relaxed state. In turn eating becomes a relaxing, stress free activity.
- HYDRATE with healthy fluids in the form of non-caffeinated herbal teas and clean water. Minimise coffee especially if you are experiencing anxiety and stress. Harness nature’s pharmacy with herbal teas as they possess an array of stress relieving, calming, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and soothing properties - and taste delicious.
- RITUAL Don't underestimate the ritual of making a humble cup of tea - a whistling kettle, favourite teapot and loose leaf herb demands mindfulness and a moment of repose.
- BATHE in natural sunlight for a boost of energising and immune-balancing vitamin D.
- BREATHE in the fresh air of nature, by the sea or amongst the trees for a dose of chemical free oxygen and feel good vibes.
- EARLY to bed and early to rise to align with our circadian rhythms.
- MOVE your body gently with daily walks and yoga - it’s powerful! Start small and work up to 20 minutes twice per day.
- FOCUS on the task at hand. When we multitask we skim activities, jump from one to the next and never quite feel like we have solution or completed a task well. Being PRESENT to the task at hand gives it full attention and energy.
- MEDITATE to bring alignment of your internal world with your external world. Come from a centred space rather than a reactive space. A focused calm space.
- RESOLVE emotional conflict and deal with fear. Develop awareness, insight and skills allowing you to weather life’s challenges. Seek support from a qualified psychotherapist, counsellor or psychologist.
- WORK on How You Want To Feel every day and in every aspect of your lifestyle.
- COOK and share a delicious meal