Dr. Doni contributed an article to The Huffington Post this week, offering 5 tips for managing seasonal stress.
Fall Stress Busters: A Seasonal Guide to Managing Stress, Naturally
As autumn sets in and temperatures drop, many of us are facing challenges, including work and school schedules, and soon holiday-related tasks. In reaction, we often experience “stress triggers” (like work pressure, commuting in traffic, balancing family and professional demands, etc.) that impact our health.[1-5] In light of this, it is especially important to care for our bodies with simple and highly impactful natural stress remedies. At the same time, research indicates that being stressed about stress only adds to the issues. So the best case scenario is to settle into daily habits that manage your stress and wellness without worrying about it too much. Here are my most recommended daily patterns for navigating stress and realizing ultimate wellness:
Tip 1: Eat four to six small “half-meals” each day
A key aspect of minimizing the stress on your system is to eat in a way that fits your physiology. The least stressful and most supportive way to nourish yourself is to eat four to six small “half-meals” each day spread evenly throughout the day, with each small “meal” including a balance of proteins (35 percent – 40 percent), carbs (35 percent – 40 percent or less), and healthy fats (20 percent – 30 percent or more). This is based on research that suggests that calorie and carbohydrate restriction, along with higher protein and fat, improve wellness.[7-13]
An example day would be:
- 6 a.m. protein shake with berries and flax or coconut oil
- 9 a.m. almonds/cashews
- Noon half of a salad with olive oil, veggies and chicken/turkey
- 3 p.m. the other half of the salad
- 6 p.m. 3 ounces of wild salmon with greens
- 8-9 p.m. 1/4 cup frozen blueberries with 1Tb nut butter (if you go to bed by 9, you would skip this last “meal”).
Keep in mind that it is important to individualize your diet based on your needs and health concerns.
Tip 2: Drink Plenty of Filtered Water
To find the amount you need, divide your body weight in half. That’s how many ounces of water you need to drink throughout the day, even if you don’t “feel thirsty,” and you need even more if you are drinking caffeinated beverages, if you are engaged in vigorous physical activity, or if you are in a hot climate. Your thirst monitors don’t really reflect your body’s need for water, yet when your body becomes even slightly dehydrated, your stress response begins. I say “filtered” water in order to avoid toxins, metals, and other contaminates often found in water. It is also important to ensure adequate electrolytes (sodium, potassium, etc.) in your water and beverages (but avoid sweeteners).
Tip 3: Get 7.5-9 Hours of Refreshing Sleep Each Night
We all need sleep — and we need it even more if our waking hours have been full of stressful challenges. Even when we experience these challenges as positive — a new romantic interest, an exciting project at work, a vacation full of thrilling adventures — our body needs time to relax and recover from the demands of the day. Aim to get in bed and turn off the lights and electronic devices with enough time to sleep at least 7.5 hours before you need to get up the next day. Unfortunately it is often when we are most stressed that we don’t sleep as well. So if you are not getting good sleep, be sure to contact a health care provider who can help your body recover from stress so that you can get back to sleeping well.[15-20]
Tip 4: Exercise at Least 15 Minutes a Day, Three to Five Days a Week
Your body was born to move, and when it doesn’t get that opportunity, you will find it very difficult to maintain optimal health. Of course, exercise itself is a form of stress — a physical challenge to your body — but paradoxically, it also helps to release emotional stress. A number of studies have shown that regular exercise is associated with decreased anxiety and depression, as well as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. But don’t overdo it! Even just 15 minutes of strength-building together with cardio helps your body recover from stress.[21-24]
Tip 5: Reconnect with Yourself Through Yoga, Meditation, and Massage Therapy
A plethora of research demonstrates that stress plays a major role in depression and anxiety. This makes sense when you consider how significantly the stress hormone cortisol affects our neurotransmitters, the biochemical that determine mood, energy, and focus. Fortunately, the research also demonstrates that the stress response can be rebalanced through yoga, meditation, and massage therapy.[26-30]
You can read the article on The Huffington Post here.
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