Fall is here, and with it all the hussle and bussle of reading for holidays, getting either yourself or your kids back to school, or just finding a new routine for you or your family. These changes are stressful for your body and is one of the reasons people often get sick around now (for other tips on preventing fall colds, click here) - and getting sick is something that none of us have time for. That's why I've put together my favourite stress-reduction tips that you can put into action now.
1.Exercise: no pill can ever be as beneficial to so many different avenues to health as exercise. Remember that video by Dr. Evans about 23.5 hours? It's all true. Exercise causes endorphins (hormones that make you feel happy) to be released as well as combats some of the negative effects of stress on your body. Exercise should be matched to your energy/fitness ability so don't feel like you have to jump off your couch and run 10km. If you're just beginning, consider getting a pedometer and aiming for 10,000 steps per day. Exercise can also be 'restorative' ie. calming, such as yoga, as this also takes you out of that go-go-go state and puts you into tranquility while also toning your muscles. Win-win!
2. Schedule! Your body loves a schedule and it'll help make you feel like your life is less chaotic. I'd recommend starting with some basics like waking up, meal times, and going to bed as these have a huge impact on stress reduction. Scheduling in more details like 'meal prep time' and 'exercise time' and the ever important 'me time!' can help you to feel like everything is more manageable.
3. Meditation: there are so many published scientific articles talking about the benefit of meditation in reducing stress that I won't bore you with them - just know that it isn't some woo-woo thing that doesn't have any real benefit. Meditation is also really diverse - it can be you sitting in a quiet space or it can be listening to someone guiding you through it. I usually recommend 'guided' meditation to my patients which I find easier to get their feet wet because they can listen to what to do instead of just being left floundering. Some of my favourite ways to get started on meditation is through apps or youtube because they are free to try! So what are you waiting for? At 3 minutes a day you could do huge benefit for your health.
4. Avoid fast foods and focus on real food. Isn't it terrible that as soon as we feel rushed, we can't imagine standing in the kitchen and making food so we just grab something quick on the way home? This fast food is stressful for the body as it has lots of junk in it that takes more effort to digest and can be harmful to cells thereby increasing your stress load. Tips to make weekday meals easier include: cooking your protein or full meal ahead of time on Sunday so you can either add it to meals or just warm them up, using a slow cooker for one-pot meals, cleaning/cutting your veggies on the weekend so they can easily be grabbed to add to meals and lunches. Aim for 5-7 servings of vegetables per day!
5. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): this herb is fantastic at supporting your stress glands so you don't get burnt out. Ashwagandha will reduce stress hormone levels, improve sleep, and improve your mood making it a great all-in-one herb to consider adding in when things are starting to get hectic. This one will also help to boost your immune system so you are less likely to get sick.
6. B Complex: B vitamins get used up very quickly during times of stress because they are needed for a lot of different reactions in the body. When you start running low, you start getting really tired and may experience lower moods. Taking a simple B complex (my favourite is Synergy B by CanPrev) helps to improve energy and mood
7. Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosis): this herb contains molecules that can block the "I AM STRESSED" signal from your brain to your body that makes cortisol (stress hormone). Aswell, mental focus, mood, and physical energy are also improved with siberian ginseng helping out with many of the different long term effects of stress.