Stress is normal and often healthy. In everyday life, stress plays a role in alerting us to life's occasional dangers and challenges, so we can prepare ourselves for them and find solutions to impending problems. Stress is the body's natural way of responding to demands and pressures. It was our defence mechanism against danger and predators. Our `fight or flight' mechanism, brought on by changes to hormones released by the body, tells us how to respond to the stress. We either confront the danger or escape it.
Too much stress or prolonged stress can trigger physical, emotional or mental symptoms e.g. muscle tension, mood swings or racing thoughts. Negative stress is a feeling of being overwhelmed and unable to cope with demands. These demands can be external (e.g. related to finances, work, relationships) or internal (e.g. illness, or a medical procedure).
Types of Stress
Chemical Stress is caused by environmental pollution or toxic chemicals
Examples of Emotional Stress include anger, depression, fear, frustration, sadness, betrayal, bereavement
Examples of Mental Stress include high responsibility, long hours, perfectionism & anxiety
Examples of Nutritional Stress include nutrient deficiency, protein, CHO or fat excess, food allergies & sensitivities
Examples of Physical Stress include exercise (HIT) & hard physical labour
Examples of Traumatic Stress include Infection, injury, burns, surgery & extreme temperatures
Examples of Psycho-Spiritual Stress include relationship pressure, financial pressure, career pressure, issues of life goals, spiritual enlightenment
Under normal circumstances, your body and mind rely on several mechanisms that help you cope with stress and recover from stressful circumstances. This is called adaptation and is a normal and healthy response to the stressful events we all encounter from time to time. However, when stress is severe, cumulative (caused by multiple issues piling up on top of each other), or present for a long period of time, your ability to cope with or recover from it may be compromised
Sleep, Food Cravings & Taste
Sleep functions as a restorative process of the brain and is crucial for our health. Research has shown that lack of sleep can increase the chance of developing metabolic disorders including diabetes and obesity. Those with sleep durations less than 6 hours, or greater than 8 hours have greater diabetes risk. Various studies have looked at links between sleep and cravings for, or intake of, foods.
Increased sleep led to a decrease in both overall appetite and the desire for sweet or salty foods. Conversely, less than 8 hours a day showed significantly increased consumption of calories from fat and carbohydrates. Studies show enhanced appetite & increased desire for sweet, starchy & salty foods with sleep restriction. Feelings of sleepiness may encourage overconsumption of unhealthy foods, and thus shows links between obesity and sleep.
Nourish with Food - Food is your fuel
Strengthen your body with the correct food and nutrients to lay the foundation for a healthier nervous system, brain and body. Family Tip - Encourage the family to try a new fruit or vegetable weekly.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that cannot be made by your body. When stressed, the body uses higher amounts of magnesium, so replenishing these stores is vital. Some of the benefits include increased cellular energy production, reduced feelings of anxiety, and it provides support for muscular cramps and tension. Foods high in magnesium – avocado, nuts and seeds (activated is better), spinach.
B vitamins help support a healthy nervous system and improve energy levels. If levels of these vital nutrients are low, symptoms such as low mood, headaches, poor concentration and irritability may occur. Foods high in B vitamins – whole grains, meat, eggs and dairy, legumes, leafy greens, nuts and seeds.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats, that we need to obtain from our diets as our bodies can't produce them. These good fats can help to reduce anxiety, reduce the frequency of mood swings and help with improving sleep. Foods high in omega 3 – fish and seafood (especially cold-water fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring and sardines), nuts and seeds (flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts).