I WANT TO TALK ABOUT STRESS | why we have it and what does it mean for us?

Because maybe if we understood the implications is has on our health, body composition and overall happiness, then maybe it would convince us that it’s not an NOTHING YOU CAN DO or ‘acceptable’ part of life and instead something we should be actively working to reduce.

Stress is an adaptive, physiological response in the nervous and endocrine system that allows you to deal with what is going on - without it you would be far more vulnerable to stressful situations and less likely to remember how you were able to stay safe last time.

When we are stressed a cascade of things happen to enable us to react effectively; cortisol rises, nutrients are broken down ready to be used, we become hyper aware of the stressor (hence why you can’t sleep when you are stressed), and our heart rate increases. This is fine in small amounts, but we are not designed to handle being in a constant sympathetic (stressed) state.

From a physical stand point chronic stress can: lower thyroid function, cause digestive issues, increase fatigue, cause reproductive hormone imbalances (lack of period), heighten anxiety, increase water retention, bring about muscle loss… to name a few. And it also puts us more at risk of acting more from a state of impulse or habit vs intention and rational thinking, which can be especially problematic if you have negative coping strategies or are working on forming new habits, such as recovery/ work endeavours / moving away from binge eating/ mediation practice [Insert a new habit you are trying to implement here].

We can break the primary causes of stress down into 4 main categories:

* Perceived (e.g burnout, anxiety, relationships)

* Internal (e.g. inflammation, allergies)

* Circadian (sleep issues, caffeine, shift work)

* Glycemic dysregulation (e.g under eating, poor diet choices)

MANAGING STRESS | what does that look like?

Let’s talk mindset + actions.

1. Mindset: how we perceive the world around us.

Studies show that those of us who believe stress is damaging: who believe we are limited, unable to handle things tend to have higher stress responses than those who are more towards the other end of the continuum. Those who see stressful situations as challenges, or something they have ability to work through and overcome, are often more resilient and able to handle stress better.

To work through this we want to start by creating awareness:

+ Where are you on the continuum? This may show up differently in different parts of your life. It can be helpful to pay attention to the way you speak to yourself. Why do you think this way?

+ Similarly, can you notice when you feel stressed? How does that show up for you? What are the feelings? What are the triggers?

From here, there are a number of things that can be helpful in 1. Reducing our stress in the moment 2. Protecting/arming ourselves

+ Breathe work

+ Affirmations

+ Journaling

+ Being in nature (phone free)

+ Meditation

2. Daily Actions: what do your day-to-day look like?

To help us increase resilience it can be helpful to ensure incorporate healthy daily practices. Much of it we already know: good sleep, water, and nutrition etc, but ‘biofeedback’ (the feedback your body is giving you) can be an especially useful messenger. Our main biofeedback markers include:

+Sleep (are you getting enough/waking in the night?)

+ Hunger (are you ravenous all the time?)

+ Digestion

+ Soreness (Sore all the time?)

+ Energy levels

+ Wellbeing (mood)

I hope that provides some help & practical ideas to begin to become aware of/implement. If you have more questions, please let me know.