When we are stressed we can sometimes do the opposite of what is best for us. We may eat junk food, not eat enough, stop being active and allow negative thoughts to take over.
We can use the following three steps to help bring health, strength and balance into our lives, when we need it the most.
We all have the strength to achieve what we put our minds to
If we are looking for real change and want to see positive results, we should avoid those tempting cheat days. From our experience, it is only perseverance that will help embed these changes, so they become second nature.
“This picture is a reminder of when I went abroad by myself without booking hotels or flights in advance, something I simply couldn’t have done before.”
I grew up believing I was an anxious person. It didn’t occur to me that I could treat the anxiety I was experiencing by changing my lifestyle.
I followed the three steps we discuss in this section. I use to struggle in social situations, had regular bouts of depression and was very self-critical. I’m not saying I am superhuman now, because that’s not realistic, but I no longer suffer how I did.
I live a very happy life now, with normal ups and downs. This is because I feel calm more often than not, which is not something I could say before I made these changes.
One thing that I must mention is how removing Gluten from my diet saved me. Tests found I had no allergy, but cutting it out stopped the depression I experienced on a reoccurring basis. Turns out there are many studies on this, such as Grain Brain, which you can see below.
Amazon|The Book People
Renowned neurologist Dr David Perlmutter, blows the lid off a topic that’s been buried in medical literature for far too long: gluten and carbs are destroying your brain. And not just unhealthy carbs, but even healthy ones like whole grains can cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression, and much more.
Food for Thoughts
The first step is to change what we’re eating and drinking. This is not a diet, this is a lifestyle change. With this in mind, please ensure you consult your doctor before making any big changes.
It’s no secret that fresh natural foods like fruit and vegetables are the best thing you can consume, so let’s include plenty in our diet.
Lower intake of refined carbohydrates
The carbohydrates we eat are broken down into simple sugars called glucose, and absorbed into the blood stream. When we eat refined carbohydrates such as white flour, white pasta, sugar and biscuits, our blood glucose levels rise too quickly. Our body then produces a hormone called insulin to quickly lower blood glucose levels. Low blood glucose levels result in low mood and irritability. So, blood sugar fluctuations can significantly contribute to low mood. One of the things we cut out from our diet was refined sugar, and it has made the world of difference.
This can be a difficult change for most people, we too use to rely heavily on our tea and coffee. However, caffeine is one of the key causes of anxiety in the workplace. A high intake can lead to stress and panic attacks. So, if you’re feeling anxious, replace coffee with calming herbal teas such as St. John’s Wort, chamomile or liquorice.
Avoid Alcohol, Smoking & Recreational Drugs
Alcohol and recreational drugs directly affects the brain by altering levels of neurotransmitters — the chemical messengers that transmit the signals throughout the body that controls thought processes, behaviour and emotion. A glass of chilled white wine at the end of the working day might seem like the perfect way to unwind. However, alcohol is a depressant. Research into smoking and stress has shown that instead of helping people to relax, smoking actually increases anxiety and tension.
Increase Intake of EPA
Studies have shown that the more fish the population of a country eats, the lower their incidence of depression. This is due to an essential fatty acid in fish known as EPA. EPA is a powerful natural anti-depressant. It is especially high in oily fish such as salmon, herring, trout, sardines, tuna and mackerel. Aim for two to three portions of oily fish each week. If you’re not a fan of oily fish, you can also get EPA from omega 3 eggs, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, walnuts and omega 3 oil capsules.
It can be difficult to avoid all these things, as many foods are made using these products. The best advice we can give is, avoid all packaged and fast foods. Stick to fresh foods as much as possible and you’ll find eating ‘better’ a lot easier. Fruit and vegetables, meats, whole grains, pulses and whole-wheat.
When can we expect to notice a change?
We may notice changes in our wellbeing after only just a week of changing what we consume, but we shouldn’t worry if it doesn’t happen this quick, changes will be felt soon. Based on what we have experienced, the full benefits of changing our diet can be felt at around a month after sticking to the programme.
Once we have fully adjusted to the change in lifestyle, it is okay to stray from this programme on occasions; say we fancy a celebratory piece of cake on our Birthday!
To find out more about the health benefits of certain foods, follow the link we have provided to check out the fantastic website created by Nature Cures.
Expensive To Eat Healthy?
Studies have shown that it can be more expensive to eat healthy. However, if we shop smart and eat less meat we can actually eat a lot cheaper! Cooking On A Bootstrap is a fantastic resource created by Jack Munroe that helps us eat better for less.
This is certainly not the only resource, but your journey can start here. Food is our fuel! What we put into our bodies is the most important thing we do on a daily basis, so it is worth the investment of our time to get it right.
We know that food can have a very big impact on the way we feel. So, if we’re feeling low, tired or anxious, we should pay close attention to our diets and measure our mood against what we’re eating and drinking. Keeping a food diary is a great way to measure this!
EXERCISE! Time to get the blood pumping around our bodies and produce all those amazing endorphins that make us feel happy. When we attempted to exercise in the past we found ourselves loosing interest and enthusiasm to carry on.
After changing our diet however, we found we had a whole new attitude towards exercising. Probably because we had more energy to burn. We cannot guarantee you’ll have a spring in your step everyday, but we can tell you that your new reserves of energy will help you push through those tougher days.
Your goals for exercising are your own. Loose weight, gain muscle, tone up and build stamina or all of the above. Any form of exercise is beneficial, but be sure to push yourself. The difference between a gentle jog and a good run could be what defines your success.
Step 3 – Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a mind-body approach to well-being that can help you change the way you think about experiences and reduce stress and anxiety.
“Whether you want to learn new techniques for coping with stress in the workplace or at home, manage anxiety or depression or improve your concentration, energy levels and enjoyment of life, Mindfulness is a valuable tool. In fact, mindfulness meditation can have such a positive impact on our mental and physical wellbeing that many GPs say that all people could benefit from learning the techniques” – BeMindful.co.uk
Example of Mindfulness
When you are getting ready for the day ahead, you may be ‘in your head’ as you’re doing it, thinking about what you have to do later, what happened yesterday, worrying about future events, or regretful thoughts about the past. This is not being mindful, you are not in the moment.
When you are getting ready for the day ahead bring your attention to the task in hand. Instead of thinking about the past or future, focus on the present. For example, if you’re having a wash, notice the temperature of the water and how it feels on your skin, the texture of the bubbles, listen to the sounds around you. This is being mindful, noticing what is happening in the present moment.
You can find a list of mindfulness courses in your area by following the link we have provided to “Be Mindful”.