Happy Monday friends!
Today is an exciting day here around Delights and Delectables. Today is the official launch of a new series that my friend Min and I have been working on behind the scenes for some time now.
Min and I are so much alike personally and in our approach to health and wellness. We are both very holistic in our approach, and we both want to make “healthy living” very simple and something that is doable for everyone.
In this Guide to Achieving a Healthy Balance, we are going to be addressing many issues and topics related to overall health and wellness. We are starting out discussing hormones and hormonal balance… I mean really, don’t we all need to work on that?!? However, we don’t have a set schedule. The reason is, we want to hear from you! We want to know what you want us to discuss regarding nutrition, fitness, stress, hormones, etc.
We are starting out with issues related to hormones. Why hormones you may ask? These bad boys are our bodies natural chemicals that control all aspects of our health and body systems! They are a pretty big deal!
So today, we are going to chat about stress and how it effects your hormones. Stress elicts the fight or flight response in our body. This causes us to have a surge of adrenaline to help us to get away from our predator. When stress is chronic and this surge continues, we start having issues. We end up having an excess amount of the hormone cortisol. This ends up altering our hormones, raises our blood sugars, depletes our body of nutrients, decreases bone mass, decreases immunity, and causes anxiety.
No one wants any of that. To chat with you today about how she combats stress, I give you my sweet and dear friend Min!
Hello, dear Delights and Delectables readers! It’s so lovely to connect with you all. My name is Min Kwon, and I blog over at The Adventures of MJ and Hungryman. I am a registered dietitian with a passion for helping others reach a balanced and joyful relationship with food and eating.
While fueling your body with wholesome foods is important, it’s equally important to deal with our emotions and stress in a healthy way. Whether you realize it or not, your mind and body are under the constant pressures of everyday life, and you may feel as though there’s nothing you can do about it. If you’re anything like me, each day probably leaves you feeling like 24 hours is just not enough.
However, YOU are in control of your life! Managing stress is all about taking charge of your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, so let’s start taking ownership of it!
By no means do I have everything figured out. Dealing with stress in a positive way is an ongoing struggle, but a goal that I continue to strive for and consciously work on.
Here are some of the strategies that I turn to:
1. Keep a stress journal. This doesn’t have to turn into a long, detailed essay. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, keep track of your thoughts and feelings in your notebook, computer, phone, or whatever works best for you. There are really no rules. Simply jot down whatever comes to your mind at that moment.
Some questions you can ask yourself are:
- What is the source of my stress?
- How am I feeling emotionally and physically?
- What was my response?
Getting in the habit of putting your thoughts and emotions into words will allow you to become more in tune with yourself, as you get a chance to reflect on those past experiences. You may begin to see a pattern in your thoughts and behaviors that you didn’t realize before, which may allow or motivate you to search for healthier ways to handle stressful situations the next time around.
2. Set limits. Ask for help. As much as we want to do everything and be presenteverywhere, that simply can’t be. Acknowledging this is the first step. Next is to learn to say no and ask for help, which are essential skills that will prevent you from complete burnout. This is probably the toughest one for me to put into action. I’ve been reading a book called “The Best Yes” by Lysa Terkeurst, and I’m loving it so far! If you are a total “yes” person like me, I highly encourage you to check it out!
3. Express your emotions. Instead of bottling up your negative emotions, share them with loved ones. I tend to keep them to myself because I don’t want to burden anyone or bring other people down with me, so to speak. In doing so, however, I’ve actually found that this creates barriers between me and my loved ones. The truth of the matter is, the people closest to you care about you and want to hear what’s on your heart. So go ahead! Speak your mind. It’s extremely therapeutic. You’ll see ;).
4. Eat a well-balanced diet. When you are stressed, you may do one of two things: refrain from eating OR overindulge on sugary, highly processed foods. Most likely the latter because an increase in cortisol levels leads to high sugar and fat cravings. Whether you are starving or binging, you are depriving your body of essential nutrients needed to better cope with the stressors.
Here are some basic tips for properly fueling your body during stressful times:
- Eat a nutritious breakfast. Here are some quick and easy breakfast ideas and recipes.
- Whether you like to eat 5-6 mini meals or 3 meals per day, try to maintain a regular eating schedule.
- Focus on consuming wholesome, REAL foods.
- Eat for physical not emotional reasons.
- Limit caffeine intake. While it can give you a quick boost of energy, once it wears off, fatigue will catch up with you with a vengeance. It also increases many hormone levels, including cortisol.
5. Make time for fun and relaxation. Whatever allows you to get to that happy place, I say DO IT! Ask yourself what brings you joy and make time to do it everyday. Perhaps…
- Spend time with a friend
- Take a warm bubble bath
- Move your body
- Pick up a hobby
- Get a massage
- Stimulate all your senses with cooking
- Read a good book
6. Go with the flow. Some things are beyond our control. Recognize that and try to enjoythe bumpy ride that is life. Being with my father in law during his last days on this earth, I realized the profound joy and appreciation that can be found in the simple pleasures of life, such as being in the same room with him and watching him fall asleep. I try to recall those moments whenever I feel overwhelmed with life. Don’t let the little precious moments pass you by because you were too busy worrying about or living for the future. Learn to be present in the moment and have a grateful heart.
7. Get plenty of sleep. Try to set a routine sleep schedule, meaning aim to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day.
8. Pray. As a Christian, spending time with my Father in prayer and reading His word gives me so much hope and peace during those times when nothing makes sense. I’m really trying this year to memorize scripture so that I can meditate on it and find the strength to endure through anything that may come my way. This one is by far the MOST effective strategy for me. If you don’t pray, perhaps you can spend some time in meditation or deep breathing.
If you want to know how I combat stress, head over to Min’s blog today for my tips!
So tell us, how do you battle stress?