Experts in mental health and wellness give their tips on coping with stress - from long walks and digital detox to alternative therapies and increased vitamin B intake.
If you have felt stressed and drained more often in the past twelve months, wondering what to do if you are exhausted, you are not alone. Burnout and stress were widespread evils even before the pandemic, but the effects of Covid-19 on the economy and our emotional wellbeing have created an environment where this feeling is increasingly becoming the norm, especially in an everyday life full of restrictions, regulations, and Lockdowns. While it is natural and normal to be stressed out, it is important to recognize when this silent ailment is affecting your physical and mental health.
According to research, high levels of stress over a long period of time can drastically change our physical functions and affect almost every organ system in our body. Stress is also associated with sexual dysfunction, acne, anxiety, depression, psoriasis, hair loss, obesity, cardiovascular disease, personality disorders, insomnia, and gastrointestinal problems, among others. "In my 20 years in the wellness and mental health industry, we have never had as many calls as we have in the past 12 months," said Neil Shah, founder of the Stress Management Society. "Why? Because people need help."
April is Stress Awareness Month, a worldwide campaign that was launched in 1992 to raise public awareness of the causes and treatment options of stress. “Their goal is to get people to talk,” says Shah. “We encourage people to spot the symptoms of stress early before it's too late. This should be taken seriously and the dialogue about stress and mental health needs to be de-stigmatized."
Eating can definitely affect our mood. When sugary foods and refined carbohydrates cause an imbalance in blood sugar levels, mood swings can occur. If you've ever been "hangry" - so hungry that you get angry - you will understand what is meant. “What we eat can make stress worse or less stressful,” explains Maria Marlowe, holistic nutritionist and author of “The Real Food Grocery Guide” (Fair Winds Press, 2017).
"If you are already stressed and have high cortisol levels (the stress hormone), drinking caffeine is a guarantee for restlessness, sleep disorders, lack of energy, and other negative health consequences." As an alternative, Marlowe suggests Matcha tea.
In addition to avoiding caffeine, Marlowe recommends including more magnesium-rich foods in your diet, such as dark leafy vegetables, beans, sea vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and organic tofu. "Magnesium helps the body cope with stress and helps us relax." She also suggests eating foods rich in the good mood-maker vitamin B, including wild salmon, organic pastured meat, lentils, and eggs. Meanwhile, vegans can use B12 supplements.
Exercise can help lower levels of stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, in our bodies. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that acts as natural pain relievers and mood enhancers in the body. "Exercise isn't about punishing the body, it's about celebrating it and feeling good - and when you're doing something that you enjoy, you're much more likely to stick with it," says Stef Williams. Personal trainer and founder of the WeGLOW fitness app.
Any kind of movement helps. Many people find that using large muscle groups in a rhythmic, repetitive manner works best. Walking and jogging are the best examples, while others prefer intense workouts.
“To be honest, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It's about figuring out what kind of movement works for you, what you enjoy, and what makes you feel in control, ”explains Williams. “But I couldn't recommend going for a walk - take this time to yourself, use it to call a family member, or even just to get some distance and be alone with your thoughts. Fitness doesn't have to be complicated; so we don't have to overcomplicate the whole thing. Find a routine you enjoy and build on it."
Yoga has been used for thousands of years to cultivate self-awareness, transformation, and connection. It's also an important tool for managing stress. “I think yoga is for everyone, but it's different for everyone,” says yoga therapist Kellie Livingstone. “Some people benefit from a more intense practice that builds strength, toned muscles, and endurance. Others benefit from a gentler practice that promotes relaxation, helps with pain management, and targets the physiological systems that yoga can affect - the immune system, the circulatory system, the digestive system, the endocrine system, etc.”
According to Livingstone, the best time to practice yoga is in the morning. She explains that for the rest of the day we can adjust the nervous system to navigate stressful situations with greater awareness of our body and breath.
“When you start using yoga as a stress reliever tool, it's important to see what's already going on in your body before you make any changes,” she advises. “When we are stressed, for example, we often have tension in the shoulders, chest or stomach. Our breath could be choppy, quick, and shallow. To take the stress off these systems, focus on poses that cancel out this physical manifestation of stress. Positions like child posture, side bends, inversions - headstands - and forward bends can help provoke a parasympathetic response."
Another great way to get rid of stress is to talk to an: r Expert: in the form of psychotherapy. “You can see this practice as healing the soul,” explains psychotherapist Jess Semaan. “It's like a gym for your emotional and mental world; space where you can get to know yourself better, what drives you, your traumas and fears, where you accept them and begin to free yourself from them so that you can be a happier, more loving person towards yourself, others and the planet could be."
According to Semaan, anyone can take advantage of psychotherapy, but it is important to find the right therapist for you. “Don't be satisfied. Listen to your intuition and talk to different therapists before you commit. Therapy is work and sometimes it will be difficult. Don't give up when things get uncomfortable. Discomfort can be a sign that healing is progressing. Take your time with the process. Some of our habits and patterns have been repeating themselves for decades - they won't go away overnight."
If you are looking for an alternative, shamanic travel could be something for you. According to practicing shaman Sarah Negus, dealing with stress is one of the most important things any of us can do and something that can be achieved through this spiritual technique. “During shamanic travel, I bring my clients into a changed state of consciousness with my intention and my voice. This is where you get access to the alpha brainwaves that run while you sleep - they connect you to the right side of your brain, which can help you get a different perspective on any situation and break old habits.
“I help clients by identifying their unconscious drives, recognizing their needs that are not being met, reformulating outdated and unhelpful beliefs, and then integrating them into new ways of living and being. When people realize that they have the freedom to make decisions based on what they want rather than what they think they have or need to do, things change."
For stress management expert Neil Shah, one of the most important ways to manage stress is to implement a digital detox. “While technology has brought benefits and benefits to society during the pandemic for de-stressing, instilling a sense of escapism, regaining control of well-being, and strengthening social relationships, people are social beings. So we encourage people to look at physical reality. " To do this, Shah recommends “unplugging the matrix. Find ways to reduce, if not eliminate, stress. Learn something new, do mindfulness meditation, go for nature walks, spend time or talk to loved ones, eat well, and exercise. Find a balance."
If you think you are having trouble coping with stress, contact your: n GP: doctor. They can refer you to a therapist or a counseling center. International and local self-help groups are also listed here.