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Whether we like it or not, stress is a part of life. The “fight or flight” response activated by our bodies in times of stress, both positive and negative (moving, having children, new challenges, a promotion) is part of our genetic makeup; we must be able to use different tools that help us cope with these stressful situations in order to live happier and more fulfilled lives.
The World Health Organization defines “stress” as a series of physiological reactions that prepare our bodies for an active response. In the past, these reactions were triggered in emergency situations for survival, hence the term “fight or flight”. An example would be, running away from an animal to avoid being eaten. The problem is that this response should be the exception, but unfortunately, it has become the norm. In fact, in Spain, the CinfaSalud VII study showed that almost 12 and a half million people (almost 26% of the population) feel that stress is a regular part of their lives.
It’s true that in some situations these series of reactions in our body can save our lives. And in moderate amounts, it’s been proven to improve the way we face everyday situations, by helping us to better manage our resources better.
The problem occurs when the resources (personal or social) to respond to the stimulus produced by stress are not enough. When we’re unable to resolve a problem the cascade of reactions constantly repeats itself (often with no rest between) causing our bodies to become overwhelmed and tired. Many studies have found that people who work or live in stressful environments are at greater risk of having some kind of illness.
Despite studies showing the role of stress in the development and worsening of many diseases, most people – even many professionals – haven’t put measures into place to reduce stress in their daily lives. Activities that best treat stress in a natural way and for the long term depend greatly on each person and require a level of commitment, including meditation, physical activity, and diet. Unfortunately, some people prefer to manage their stress with the use of drugs and other harmful substances.
Our body uses Vitamin C reserves to produce adrenaline which means we must replace what we are consuming with foods rich in this nutrient, like, guava and most citrus fruits: kiwi, lemon, strawberry, mandarin, orange …, and vegetables such as bell peppers, tomatoes, and cabbage. Vitamin C also helps support our immune system; so if we do not increase its intake in these situations, it is common for us to get sick. This has probably happened to you more than once, something worries you and you catch a cold
Another consequence of stress is that our body uses more proteins to strengthen our immune system, maintain vital organs, and assists in healing processes. We are in a state of alert, so remember increasing the consumption of this nutrient is a good tool to help fight against the negative consequences of stress on our body. Additionally, dairy, lean meats, and fish provide us with tryptophan, which is a necessary amino acid to produce serotonin, the famous “hormone of happiness.”
Before I got to know my body better, it was common for me to crave foods rich in sugar or chocolate when I was stressed out by a situation. And while this behavior has its own purpose, could you imagine eating like that every time we were worried or anxious? These foods cause spikes in blood glucose levels causing rapid peaks of energy that quickly decline, which in turn affects our emotional state and causes mood swings.
A practice that seeks to train the mind and increase our level of consciousness. It’s become increasingly popular thanks to the benefits that regularly practitioners feel, such as a reduction in stress, tension, anxiety, depression, and pain as well as improvements to their memory and energy levels. In general, it optimizes our overall health (body, mind, and spirit). There is no one way to meditate, the idea is to find what is most comfortable for you. We recommend starting with 5 minutes a day and go from there.
Staying physically active has more benefits than you might think! Besides the fact that I can confirm how good it makes you feel, many studies confirm the positive effect it has on combating our stress levels. So, what are you waiting for? Start moving!
There is no stronger motivation than to know that what you’re working so hard for is to achieve a desired result that you’ve set for yourself. Never lose sight of the reason that got you to start working out. From improving your physical appearance to burning off some excess calories to de-stressing or just as an excuse to leave the house. Turn your reason into your greatest source of inspiration.