4 Ways to Combat Stress and Ensure that it Doesn’t Affect You
Your gut sends you constant signals to highlight the effect of an unhealthy lifestyle on your body. If your kitchen is not in order, no amount of meditation or exercise can set it right and stress free. Our gut has a number of microbes that work in close association to ensure that our body functions right.
The stress affects the gut microbes which in turn increases the body’s reactivity to stress. Hence if you treat your ‘gut-bugs’ poorly, you can feel more anxious and depressed. But if we treat them well, they can lighten our mood – as well as our weight. Here’s how…
Eat the alphabet:
Eating a fibre rich diet can make your gut healthy. Add a variety of fibre in your diet. If you are able to add vegetables, low glycaemic fruits like blueberries and cherries, to your diet, the same can increase the growth of gut bugs. Your gut bugs send positive signals to your brain ensuring them that everything is good. Eating fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut or kefir, which introduce beneficial bacteria into your body, will also improve your gut health. Aim to eat at least 26 different plant foods every single month.
Protect your microbiome:
Modern life, it seems, is at war with our gut bugs. Besides the usual culprits – sugar, alcohol and smoking – highly processed foods, such as ready meals, biscuits, many breakfast cereals and some highly processed breads, can have a terrible effect on their health. Moreover, our modern obsession with hygiene ensures that we are constantly using sprays and sanitizing our hands. Try and not be that compulsive. Do your best to avoid as many chemicals as possible.
Find your personal exercise prescription:
Being under stress means your body is under a fight or flight mode. Today’s stressors are rarely physical, they are mental – office work, relationships, misunderstandings, etc. The best is to employ exercise to ease out the fight-or-flight mode. Formulate a simple exercise plan for yourself – brisk walk in the morning, post lunch, high intensity interval exercise or a long jog, anything that helps you channelize your stress. The key is to move your body as much as possible.
Treat yourself to sleep:
If you’re not prioritizing your sleep, it’s highly likely that you’re not getting enough. Sleep tends to be the first thing to be pushed to the side, because we just don’t realize how much we need it and how much stress a lack of it can cause.
If you look in the brain, you see a collapse in memory, attention, cognitive function, decision-making capacity and ability to learn new things. In the body, levels of adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol increase, inflammatory markers go up, and we become resistant to insulin, which makes it more likely that we will develop type 2 diabetes.
Sleep deprivation is also linked to obesity because it causes hunger and satiety hormones to reverse, meaning that our appetite goes up and we feel less full, making weight gain more likely. If you are lacking in sleep, you’re going to be significantly less likely to eat the alphabet because you’ll be craving sugary junk food.
So, if you’ve had a bad day, rather than sitting on the sofa eating pizza, washing it down with a half bottle of wine and staying up late into the evening on social media, I’d like you to dim the lights, switch off your screens and gorge yourself on a generous portion of extra sleep.