Written by Lauryn Woodruff

Oh, stress! It comes at you fast doesn’t it?! Life is filled with ups and downs, and sometimes we find ourselves in circumstances beyond our control. Although stress may seem like the norm now a days, it doesn’t have to be. There are certainly ways to manage your stress levels.

Stress is how your body reacts to certain situations, such as sudden danger or long-lasting challenge. During stressful events, your body releases chemicals called hormones, such as adrenaline. Adrenaline gives you a burst of energy that helps you cope and respond to stress.

Stress and the ability of our body to go into a fight or flight mode is truly incredible but it’s not supposed to last long. Prolonged stress can actually be harmful. Studies have shown that for women in particular, we tend to deal with stress and stressful situations by turning to comfort foods and sweets.  Research shows this is caused by stress increasing certain hormones in our bodies, especially the ones that signal that we are hungry, and these can affect the types of food that we choose to eat aka “comfort foods” (pass me the cake, please!). Once we eat those comfort foods, we essentially are sending a message back to our bodies that say the way to beat stress is through the sweets and comfort food. Although there is nothing wrong with indulging sweets, it’s important to be mindful of your diet as whole, including nutrient dense foods for more balance.

Stress is a process that can be controlled – it’s like a light switch that you can learn to turn on and off. Here are some tips on how you can better manage your stress.

Take a break

When was the last time you carved out time to take care of YOU? If you do this already, keep it up! There is nothing more important than practicing self-care. Take a while to escape from your daily stressors. This will help to put your mind and body at ease. Find something you love to do, whether it’s reading a book, enjoying a solo date, or watching a movie. Check out this post on 30 self-care activities!

Sweat your feelings out…move that body!

Have you heard? Exercise actually produces stress-relieving hormones and on top of that, it also gives you time to escape from the world and focus on your activity alone. If you are new to exercising, no worries find an exercise routine that works for you – start out by maybe taking a brisk walk for a few minutes each day.

Write it down  

Writing your stressors down can help you gain some control back in your life. Identify what causes you stress and make a plan of action on how to handle it. That can include making a daily or weekly plan to complete tasks that may stress you out.

Talk to someone you trust

Get your problems out by speaking to someone you trust, whether a friend, loved one or a healthcare professional – when you talk things out, you may feel more relieved than keeping it all in your head. You don’t have to deal with things on your own, you are loved and there are people who genuinely want to offer help. Start today, by taking that first step to give someone a ring.

Hydrate and eat a balanced diet

Stress eating happens to all of us – and most of the time it may seem like the best way to escape from your stressors, especially when you are feeling anxious. Take time to also include things like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats into each meal and always stay hydrated. Your body will be better prepared to fight off negative affects stress gives, when it is properly nourished.

References

https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/how-stress-can-make-us-overeat

https://theforum.sph.harvard.edu/events/managing-stress/