How to Lead a Healthy Lifestyle for Stress Relief
About the Author
Abby Campbell, BSc, SFN, SSN, CPT, is a leading professional fitness and nutrition expert, researcher, and published author of One Size Does NOT Fit All Diet Plan, one of Amazon's Top Gluten-Free and Weight Loss Diets. (You may read more about Abby at the bottom of this article.)
3 Important Starter Tips to Relieve Stress
Leading a healthy lifetyle is the surefire way to beating stress.You may ask:
- What does a healthy lifestyle consist of?
- How do I get started on a healthy lifestyle?
- Will living a healthy lifestyle really help me relieve stress?
Though this article includes only three starter tips to relieve stress, it may be overwhelming to work on all of them at the same time. Don't stress about it! Healthy lifestyle habits can be worked on one at a time as each does take time. The important thing is each contributes to relieving stress. As you build on each habit, your relief will only increase. How wonderful!
What Does a Good Diet Consist Of?
- lean beef
- poultry (chicken & turkey)
- pork tenderloin
- fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, etc.)
- seafood (shrimp, crabs, lobster, etc.)
- egg whites
- low-fat cottage cheese
- Greek yogurt
- skim milk
- Vegetables (spinach, kale, broccoli, asparagus, green beans, etc.)
- Fruits (grapefruit, apple, pear, orange, berries, etc.)
- Grains (oats, brown or wild rice, quinoa, sweet potato, etc.)
- Legumes (lentils, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzos, etc.)
- Oils (olive, coconut, flax)
- Butter (stay away from margarine)
- Nut Butters (peanut, almond, coconut, etc.)
- Nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, etc.)
- Seeds (flaxseed, chia seeds, sesame seeds, etc.)
- Cheese (Parmesan, Feta, Cheddar, etc.)
1 - Eating a Good Diet
Poor diets do not provide the body or mind with the nutrients it needs, and those who do not eat healthily have the highest stress levels. Without the proper nutrients, food cravings rise. Cravings aren't the only thing that rises though. Cortisol levels also rise with stress, and this can lead to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a physiological condition where the natural hormone insulin becomes less effective in lowering blood glucose levels. In turn, this can cause diabetes, metabolic disorder, as well as many other physiological conditions that only promote more stress. Poor diets consist of pre-packaged, processed, and refined foods that only provide "empty" calories. Basically, they provide energy for your body with little or no nutrients to supply your brain with optimal health. Without optimal health, stress can increase.
Eating a good diet provides your body with nutrients that biologically help you to overcome stress. Specifically, your brain is happy when it is fed with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients for overall health. When you receive good nutrients, cortisol levels are decreased and endorphins are increased. Cortisol is a hormone that can help you when released in small amounts, especially with metabolism regulation, blood pressure control, and high immunity. In large amounts, it can unfortunately wreak havoc on the body and mind. Symptoms may include lower immunity, altered metabolism, and weight gain. Endorphins are another hormone that is known as the "feel good" hormone. It relieves the body and mind from pain, improves mood, and makes one feel happy. Eating healthy foods at regular intervals throughout the day will not only provide you with energy and vitality, as they will also relieve you of daily stress.
2 - Exercising Daily
Exercising daily is another tactic to relieve stress. Remember "cortisol" and "endorphins" from the previous section on eating a good diet? Exercise burns away cortisol while increasing endorphins and other feel good hormones. Not only does daily exercise reduce stress chemically. Certain cardiovascular exercises can have a meditative effect by clearing the mind of junk and providing focus. Try walking, jogging, or biking. Daily exercise can also make you feel good about yourself. When you are fit, you feel good about yourself. You are able to fit into your clothing, become happier with your body, and have increased self-confidence. This in itself is a stress buster as well!
Tips for Getting Enough Rest
- Stay away from electronics (i.e., computer, e-readers, cell phones, etc.) at least 1-2 hours before going to bed
- Turn bright lights down at least 1-2 hours before going to bed
- Meditate or do yoga
- Count sheep backwards
- Listen to relaxing music
- Take a nice long hot bath in epsom salt
Natural Supplements for Sleep
- Chamomile Tea
3 - Getting Enough Rest
You probably know what a night without much sleep makes you feel like the next day. Argh! Mark Mahowald, a neurology professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School declares, "One complete night of sleep deprivation is as impairing in simulated driving tests as a legally intoxicating blood-alcohol level." Dr. Eve VanCauter, a medical professor at the University of Chicago, reports that people who are sleep deprived become insulin resistance and are prone to high blood pressure. Remember that dnsulin resistance contributes to Diabetes and other metabolic conditions? Many research studies have also shown that sleep deprivation causes behavioral problems such as aggression, opposition, and non-compliance. Can you say "stress?" On the other end of the spectrum, sleep studies have shown that emotions are better controlled, memory retention is increased, and decision-making is better made when enough sleep is produced.
What do you currently do to relieve stress?
More Tips for Leading a Healthy Lifestyle to Relieve Stress
Living a healthy lifestyle with eating a good diet, exercising daily, and getting enough rest are by far the most important habits you can form to relieve yourself of stress. After you've accomplished these three biggies, you may want to look further in the following:
- Getting organized
- Surrounding yourself with only positive and encouraging people
- Having FUN
Habits take time to build. You've probably already heard the saying, "It takes 21 days to build a healthy habit." Well, that may be true for certain habits. However, there may be others that take a little or a lot longer. The most difficult habit to build for most Americans is a healthy diet and exercise. This may also be why the United States is in a crisis with an epidemic of mental disorders, depression, and anxiety. You don't have to be part of this statistic by working on these habits daily. No one will ever be perfect in any area, but using the 80/20 rule will help you in relieving stress in a big way.
About the author
Abby Campbell, BSc, SFN, SSN, CPT, is a leading professional fitness and nutrition expert, researcher, and published author. For the past 10 years, she has coached thousands of women locally and online to lose body fat and lead healthy lifestyles. Her clients have lost thousands of pounds, reclaimed health, and call her “Coach No Gimmick.” She is from Northern Virginia but now resides near Charlotte, North Carolina. Abby has been married for 20 years and has three grown daughters, one of which is autistic. She is a 19 year cancer survivor.
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