About stress, how bad it is, and the art of letting it go …
Guest post by Sabine Kleissl-Muir (Banting Buddies coach in Victoria, Australia.)
Let’s face it. The human race would have never survived if our Ancestors had to endure the stress we encounter every day. Our fight or flight response was designed to either combat or run away from a Saber-Toothed Tiger. These days many of us seem to be chased by the tiger 24/7.
Tired from the night before we usually get up too late in the morning – Stress. Your 3-year-old throws a hissy fit just because it can – Stress. You get to work – Stress. You have to be “professional” to that one ignorant work colleague – Stress. You eat your lunch too fast, rush to pick up the children, cook, wash, clean up, shower the kids, shower yourself, tuck kids into bed, praying that your husband falls asleep before you tuck yourself into bed.
But, it is not just the obvious stressors in our lives. We are bombarded from all sides by chemicals, pesticides, media, pollution, 24 hour daylight (in the form of electricity) and people we don’t want to talk to.
This constant over-arousal increases anxiety and the production of stress hormones. Cortisol is the body’s number one stress response hormone. It is made by the adrenal glands, which sit at the top of the each kidney, and are supposed to help us in threatening situations, and prepare us to fight or run away.
Cortisol increases blood glucose levels via gluconeogenesis (releases glucose from the liver) and inhibits the use of glucose by the muscles (insulin resistance!). The hormone favours long-term development of osteoporosis, decreases immune function (delays wound healing for example), and increases gastric acid production. In one study scientists suggested that excess cortisol might play a role in the development of metabolic syndrome.
Most of us know that trying to lose weight while under stress is nearly impossible. When the initial effect of adrenaline (from the stress response) has worn off, cortisol still lingers around and makes us hungry. The fight and flight response suddenly becomes a fight, flight and chow down response. And since we are not running from tigers anymore, our body fat piles on with the most dangerous area being the fat around our belly and organs, also known as the visceral fat.
Here we are stuck in survival mode, marinated by cortisol.
So what can we do?
Well nourished bodies cope better with the stress of daily life.
Follow a Banting diet full of fresh vegetables and healthy fats. Eliminate sugars and grains from your diet. Stay away from corn, and never ever eat soy.
Drink enough fresh water and keep coffee to a minimum (I know, I am crying too…).
Exercise often to deal with stress, and let go of anger and frustration (boxing or kettle bells work best for me). If you are not into hitting things, try yoga or meditation.
Try to get at least 6 to 8 hours of quality sleep and whenever possible try to have a “Siesta” (midday nap).
Having positive thoughts, while simultaneously suppressing what you are actually feeling, can make things worse. Learning to effectively release negative thoughts is much easier and more natural than trying to force positive thinking. Just let go!
Try not to sweat the little things. Socks on the floor – who cares. Dog poo in the yard – who cares. Try to focus on the things that really matter in your life, and enjoy it with the people you love.
Don’t waste time with people who don’t like you. You won’t change them. Move on.
Take time out for yourself. Lie if you must. 5 minutes is sometimes enough to charge up your batteries. Take a book to the toilet, go for a walk, listen to music on the way to work, have a long shower.
Try to not take yourself so seriously. You don’t have to be perfect. Laugh sometimes about the mistakes you make and move on. This really makes a difference.
Scientists have been studying the so-called Blue Zones (areas of the world where people live measurably longer) in the quest to find the secret to longevity. They very quickly discovered that low stress levels play a major role in growing very old.
The Type A Personality (workaholics and control freaks) are known to live significantly shorter, have more heart attacks and suffer from chronic disease. A fact that I can confirm having worked as a nurse for the last twenty years.
A little bit of personal stress management goes a long way.
I believe the secret to a long and healthy life is a content mind, living in a well nourished body.
I am going to brush my cat now…