STRESS + SOLITUDE
Right now, many of us are spending more time alone than ever before.
For a world that is usually go-go-go, this time in solitude may come as a shock. We're all feeling just a little more stressed than usual with even the best of us circumming to some level of anxiety.
So, how do we manage this?
A: By finding simple ways to relieve some of this stress.
Below, I will be going through some of my favourite stress-relieving practices as a nutrition student that I'm currently using in my day-to-day.
Regular exercise releases endorphins. These interact with brain receptors to induce a positive effect on the body, similar to that of morphine. Try a 15 minute workout on youtube in the morning to reduce stress levels in the day ahead. The Pamela Reif workouts on youtube are my current favourite.
Herbal teas are renowned for many calming responses in the body. My go-to for reducing the sympathetic nervous system stress response include; chamomile, passionflower, st john's wort, ashwagandha & valerian root. Make the 3pm slump your tea party time.
I'm notorious for listening to music all hours of the day - sleep included. Why? Because music has a feel-good effect, even at a biochemical level. When you listen to music you love, your brain releases pleasure hormones such as norepinephrine & melatonin helping reduce cortisol levels.
I couldn't possibly get through a stress tool-kit without mentioning this. Yoga is the ultimate calm inducer, known to relax every sense in the body & bring the body back to a state of consciousness. Don't let the time factor overwhelm you, even just 5 minutes a day can work wonders. I'm loving Yoga With Bird for my 5 minute morning flows.
DARK CHOC & CASHEWS
Enhancing your happiness hormone, serotonin, through food is a great way to combat stress. Cashews and quality cacao in dark chocolate both contain the amino acid (protein) tryptophan. In the body, tryptophan produces serotonin. Talk about mood food!
When circumstances spiral out of your control, taking charge of the areas in your life you can focus on helps. Establishing a morning routine is an excellent way to minimise anxiety that comes with the unknown - a little concept we're all too familiar with at the moment. You can check out my stress-relieving morning routine here.
Electrochemically charged with 'negative ions', the earths surface is the ultimate remedy for calm. A concept known as 'grounding' or 'earthing' refers to physically coming into contact with the earth, such as walking barefoot on the grass or sand. This allows you to absorb the negative ions which emit a stress-reducing effect throughout the body.
When you're highly stressed & anxious, you enter the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). In this state, blood is sent away from the digestive organs to the peripheries as part of the 'flight or flight' response. Deep belly breathing has been studied for its ability to switch your body out of the SNS & into the 'rest and digest' state, an important process for calming the body & absorbing vital nutrients. Try 5 deep, controlled belly breaths through the nose & out the mouth before meals, bed or when you're feeling stressed.
UPSIDE DOWN LADY
Believe it or not, headstands are incredibly calming to the body. Promoting blood flow back to the brain, spending a few minutes upside down each day can significantly down-regulate your stress response. Alternatively, you can lay with your legs up the wall for a similar effect.