Some simple tips from holistic health counselor Dawn Lerman to dramatically reduce the impact stress has on your well-being and rev you up for each day.
“Let food be thy medicine”
Here is a simple questionnaire to determine where you need to make some simple adjustments in your life:
- Do you need to frequent a Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds or other local place to get your day started?
- Are you always in a rush?
- Do you eat lunch while answering e-mail’s or talking on the phone?
- Do you and your family sit down to a relaxing home cooked meal at least 4 out of 7 days?
- Do you need a quick pick me up of sugar or caffeine mid day to make it through the rest of the afternoon?
- Do you take time at least 15 or 20 min. during the day to meditate draw cook write in your journal or simply breathe?
- Do you wake-up exhausted?
- Have you tried every fad diet that has hit the stands?
- Do you have a strong support system?
- Do you make time to call loved ones and tell them that you appreciate them?
- Are you usually rushed?
- Do you exercise on a daily basis?
- Do you feel like you are living your life to the fullest?
There are no right or wrong answers. However, if you want to reduce stress and feel better, below are some helpful tips:
- With spring in the air, now is the time to rid ourselves of all the unnecessary baggage we accumulated over the winter which caused us to be lazy, stressed and stagnant. This includes such spring-cleaning staples like excess clothes, papers, pounds, medications, relationships, and bad habits.
- Growing up, spring-cleaning was a ritual for clearing out our closets and getting rid of things we know longer have good use for. This goes doubly true for our health. Spring is the perfect time to rid our body of harmful toxins, such as sugar caffeine and processed foods-all of which stress out our body, raise cortisone levels and compromise our immune system.
- Spring is a time of renewal. It is the perfect time to take stock of our lives and our eating habits. We need to look at both our primary foods- (relationships career, and spirituality) as well as our secondary foods (anything that goes in our mouths). Often our body craves foods that balance out the elements of the season; for example, frequently in the spring we crave detoxifying foods like leafy greens or citrus foods. Listening to our body and making simple changes in our diet and lifestyle can eliminate 80 percent of stress related diseases.
- Stress is deadly; yet, we live in a stressed-out, statistically unhealthy country. We have fast paced careers, cars and fast food. The media is telling us that a family bucket meal is the closest thing families can attain during the week that resembles a real home-cooked meal, one like June Cleaver would have prepared. Yet the ingredients, preservatives, quality of ingredients are a far cry from even 20 years ago. This trend of fast convenient microwave food was created to alleviate stress has created a battery of unhealthy stressed out people. Lack of proper nutrients cause stress. Because of what we eat and how we are eating, we become oblivious that we are in a state of perpetual shock, too stressed out too repair ourselves.
- The good news is that information is power – power to change our lifestyles. We can take back our lives and re-align ourselves with the natural flow of the seasons and cycles of nature. We can achieve a sense of calm. It can be done with some simple, natural tips to eliminate stress.
- First, we must reduce or eliminate caffeine. The ups and downs of caffeine include dehydration and blood sugar swings, which cause sugar cravings to be more frequent. Consequently, this raises insulin levels, which then leads to more stress on our body. Moreover, caffeine stimulates the excretion of stress hormones, which increases your overall levels of anxiety, irritability, muscular tension and pain, indigestion, insomnia, and decreased immunity. These increased levels of stress prevent you from making healthy responses to the normal daily stress, like getting a donut or cake toward the end of work. Try substituting coffee and Coca-Cola with some high-quality herbal teas.
- The second most important step we can take to reduce the impact of stress is to eliminate processed sugar and eat sweet vegetables and fruit. They are sweet, healthy, and yummy, and the good news is that the more you eat, the less you’ll crave processed sugars.
- If you have to use sweets, like in baking, avoid processed or artificial sweeteners. Instead reach for gentle sweeteners like maple syrup, brown rice syrup, dried fruit and stevia (a sweet leafy plant). Along the same lines, cut out the fat-free or low-fat foods. Ironically, these foods contain high quantities of sugar hidden as well as corn syrup, which will just send you on a different roller coaster ride, but a stress builder nonetheless. You can also experiment with spices, such as coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom. They will naturally sweeten your foods, reduce cravings, and help ground you. Another way you can reduce your sweet cravings is to add more naturally sweet flavors to your daily diet. Certain vegetables have a deep, sweet flavor when cooked-like corn, carrots, onions, beets, winter squash, sweet potatoes and yams. There are also vegetables that don’t taste sweet, but their effect on the body is similar to sweet vegetables. These include red radishes, daikon radish, green cabbage, red cabbage and burdock. They soothe the internal organs of the body and energize the mind.
- The third step towards regaining control of our stress is to get physical activity. Start with simple activities, like walking or yoga. Begin with 10 minutes a day and increase gradually. It will help balance the blood sugar levels during the day and reduce tension. And without medicating yourself with sugar, you’ll feel better, clearer in thought, and less stressed!
- The fourth step is harder to fit into our complex lifestyles, but is no less important; you should always get a full night’s sleep and wherever possible find some time for relaxation. When we are tired, the body cannot repair itself efficiently. This leaves you cranky and irritable. So slow down! You body longs for physical and social contact, find the time to be with friends, spend time outside, go do some workouts, get a massages, I’m sure you can think of something. Occasionally take stretch breaks throughout the day or put on some music and dance that stress away.
A simple healthy recipe for starting your day on track
Banana Blueberry Muffins
- 1 cups sifted almond flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2-teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2-teaspoon salt
- I/4 cup of butter or 2 tablespoons of cold procecced coconut oil (heated)
- 1/3-cup agave nectar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2-cup yogurt
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 4 ripe bananas
Bake for 30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out dry
Makes 12 muffins
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