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Support a busy lifestyle

In today’s ever changing and fast paced society we constantly have to learn to adapt in order to stay ahead of the game. With a trending 24 hour culture, it can be hard to know when to switch off, let alone learning how to. But taking the time to relax and learning tools to de-stress is essential if we want to stay healthy and feel our best.

Every time we experience stress – think deadlines, tube delays, worrying about the future, our body perceives this as a stressor, much like a life or death situation. Although not as extreme, the effect in the body is the same and the ‘fight or flight’ response, kicks in. This means a rise in the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline as the body moves away from the parasympathetic nervous system (commonly referred to as ‘rest and digest’) to the sympathetic nervous system (‘fight, flight or freeze’).

In the immediate effect – see life or death situation – this works out great, our energy moves towards helping us survive, and after the stressor goes away stress hormone levels come down again and we move on, with blood and energy flow be re-directed to digestion and other important body systems. However, what is increasingly happening in today’s society is that these perceived stressors are never really going away. There is always another deadline, disruption to our journey home, and something to worry about!

So, what can we do? Clearly the ideal answer would be to take away all our stresses, but sadly this is not realistic. What is more practical advice is to learn to better manage our stress response, and ensure our body has all the tools to effectively manage stress.

Here are some top nutrition and lifestyle tips to help manage your stress response and support your busy lifestyle:

  1. “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper” is the best recipe for sustained energy, providing us with constant fuel sources that we can use when most awake and active. Include protein for breakfast like eggs, nuts, seeds and try smoked salmon, avocado and sesame seeds on rye bread.
  2. Our blood sugar levels naturally dip around 4pm, causing reduced energy at this time. This can be worsened by caffeine or sugar intake, as they cause a spike then a crash of energy. Snack on raw nuts or fruit before you get hungry for dinner to keep blood sugar levels up and limit caffeine intake.
  3. Revialise by lying on the floor with your legs straight up a wall or on a chair if you feel tired or overwhelmed. Breathe through your nose fully for 10 minutes and resist allowing your mind to get caught up in your stresses – stay with your focus on your breath.
  4. Aim to be in bed by 10 or 11pm, the time that sleep restores us most and can help us get up more easily in the morning, lessening the need to start the day with caffeine. Instead you may be able to make space for a 10 minute morning meditation. This can just be sitting up in bed or supported with a straight back on a cushion. Simply observe your breath and set a time to stop any lateness worries.
  5. Find a bit of space daily – we can get into the trap of waiting until holidays or weekends to relax but our bodies and minds need to restore continuously. This can be sitting on a bench in the sun, lying in the bath or anything that focuses you to stop and gather in.