Friday, May 2, 2014

Hitting the reset button on your body when you're feeling the effects of stress and anxiety

Sometimes you just need to hit the reset button and there's no better time than now (actually, I was going to say the Spring). Spring clean your body! Every once in a while we just need a reminder. We get stuck in a routine, or things come up in life... maybe you've had a hectic week. That's okay. In real life, shit happens. So take care of business and then get back to taking care of you.

The following are suggestive guidelines that help prime the body for handling stress and decreasing anxiety. 

1. Eliminate stimulants: caffeine, nicotine and preservatives (like MSG). Although you may feel like your 4 coffees per day keeps you going, in some situations (anxiety being the big one) it can actually be more taxing on your system and cause you to be more anxious! After the first few days of "coffee withdrawal" you'll start feeling a lot better and you'll stop craving it. If you're not as anxious, stick to no more than one cuppa joe per day.  

2. Eliminate consumption of refined sugar, sucrose, dextrose and other sweeteners such as corn syrup. This is another substance that can be very addictive and puts more stress on your body and your immune system.  

3. Reduce or eliminate refined and processed foods from the diet as much as possible. Replace with whole and fresh foods which will work with your body to provide proper nutrition without added fillers that do nothing for you but weigh you down (figuratively and literally).

4. Avoid foods that you have an allergy or sensitivity to. Easier said than done, as many of us are sensitive to gluten and dairy, but it'll make a huge difference in multiple areas of your well-being (including but not limited to memory, concentration, gut health and function, healthy bowel movements, clearer skin, energy, and so on).  

5. Reduce consumption of red meat as well as poultry containing steroid hormones and other chemicals. Replace with organically fed and free-range lean meats and seafood. But remember to avoid big game fish like swordfish, and tuna which have higher levels of mercury.  

6. Increase intake of dietary fiber. It'll help clear out your gut and remove anything old that's been lingering. Regular bowel movements make for happy bodies. No one wants to hang onto a bunch of crap. Your body feels the same way.  

7. Drink water throughout the day - At least 1L per day, but up to 2L is optimal. Hydration is key. It can help prevent headaches, dry skin and moodiness.  

8. Increase vegetables. Okay, so this one is kind of redundant, but I can't stress it enough. Think of veggies are your natural vitamins. At least 1/2 to 2/3 of your plate should be veggies. You'll fill up faster than you would eating something like a bowl of pasta, and the nutrient content is so much higher. Natural vitamins can help correct deficiencies which = happy people.  

9. Reduce "bad" fats and increase intake of the "good"/helpful ones. Toss away the corn oil, canola oil, fatty cuts of red meat, and replace them with fish, avocados, olive oil, walnuts, flax and coconut oil. Overall, you should have more omega-3's in your diet than omega-6s. Keep the scale balanced towards omega-3's and your mood will improve, your skin will look better, and inflammation goes down.  

10. Do at least one thing per day that brings you joy. Sounds simple, but most of us spend so much time taking care of everyone else, or worrying about different things that we forget to live in the moment and think about what we need. Laugh at something, do something fun, no matter how small. If it makes you smile, laugh or feel warm and fuzzy, it's worth it.