Is Stress Bad For You?

The short answer is: your body is either in survival mode or healing mode and there’s not much in between and simply put, stress puts your bod into survival mode and relaxation allows healing mode to kick in. So, if you’re stressed out, your body can’t properly heal and recover. This isn’t necessarily bad for you, in fact acute stress is a natural thing and may even have its own benefits to your health. But, that’s a conversation for another day!

Acute stress is typically a situation where you are presented with an immediate danger and must react quickly to survive AKA “fight or flight”. You’ve probably experienced this while driving when someone swerves in front of you and you have to make a split second action to avoid a crash.

A lot of physical changes happen in that split second. Adrenaline spikes to increase you reflexes. our pupils dilate so you can see better. Your heart rate increases to allow more blood flow to your muscles and brain so you can think faster and are stronger. Those are just a few examples!

As you can imagine, you don’t want to be in that highly excited state for every long though or it will start to take a toll on your heart, your vision, your muscles and many other functions.

This is where stress starts to have more negative effects on your health.

Imagine that you are driving 20 hours a day and people are swerving in and out randomly all the time so you are constantly in fight or flight mode – ready to react. Seems crazy, right? The truth is, you may be experiencing that more than you think.

In a typical day, most people are confronted with these swerving people on and off the road. Consider how often you feel jumpy around your boss, maybe worried about how they will react to the job you’re doing. Coworkers too. Do you have difficult and erratic people in your life who you just never know what kind of mood they will be in so it sets you on edge? Work deadlines, busy stores with long lines, stressed out family and friends, even the shows you watch on tv (like the news and horror films) and all of the obligations that you are reactive to during your day can result in chronic stress which doesn’t allow your body to switch off the adrenaline and recover.

It’s crucial for you to have recovery time though or illness starts to rear its ugly head.

It may start as feeling tired a lot, relying on caffeine and sugar to get through the day until you fall into bed with a mental list of all the things you need to do tomorrow stressing you out still. Then, it likely shows up as headaches, digestive issues, hair loss, skin problems and weight gain or weight loss.

Pretty soon it manifests as more serious conditions like heart disease and cancer. Terrible results from something so easy to change!

So, what can you do to avoid going down that road of deteriorating health and premature aging? So much! And it’s so simple!

Here are 3 things to start with and then I want to hear from you in the comments with other ideas and questions, okay?

1. Set aside quite time for meditation, journal, exercise or napping.

Simply allowing yourself a pocket of time during the day with no demands can be highly restorative. I especially like to set this time aside first thing in the morning or last thing before bed (or both!) for the most benefit.

Having quiet time in the morning can gift you the grace to start your day feeling calm, collected and competent – with a plan of action and control over your day so you accomplish what you require rather than reacting to things you get no benefit from.

At night, it’s a gorgeous way to bookend the day and allow your sleep to be even more restful.

2. Eat well.

Eating highly nutritious foods not only gives your body exactly what it needs to heal in those relaxed moments but it’s delicious! The pleasure you receive from a gorgeous meal can instantly put you into a relaxed state as well.

3. Find the gift in a stressful situation.

When you’re feeling pressure, panic and fight or flight, it’s difficult to see the gift that’s there in the mess but if you can start to use that feeling of stress as a cue to take a deep breath and ask yourself, “What is here for me to receive?” you can begin to change your perception and reaction to events.

Even in very negative situations there is an opportunity to learn something or even just to be loving, forgiving and accepting – which are great muscles to exercise and don’t get much use in easy situations, do they?

Going back to the traffic example, if someone cuts you off in traffic, of course you will need to react quickly and avoid that crash! But, after the crisis is over, instead of holding on to that anger, frustration and stress, you can practice that simple mantra “What is here for me to receive?” and forgive that other person. Perhaps they are on their way to the hospital, running late to an important appointment or have diarrhea and need to get to a bathroom ASAP! Receive the peace that comes with forgiveness in that moment rather than letting that crisis carry on and cause you more injury.

If it sounds like too much to take on all three of these tips, I invite you to try just one of them and let me know what challenges pop up for you around it so I can assist you. Just leave me a comment below!

Just Tell Me What To Eat

Do you ever just wish someone would tell you exactly what to eat so you feel great and don’t have to spend any energy on it when you have so many other things to do?

I’ve been there too!

In fact, years ago, I bought a program from a health coach called “Just Tell Me What To Eat!”

It was a complete waste of my time and money because what she suggested eating, although it wasn’t bad advice, wasn’t what I needed to feel my best. That’s the problem with giving power over your own health and well being to someone else.

Do you ever notice how popular diet programs that give specific meal plans, shopping lists and even prepackaged meals, bars and shakes are? Probably because there are so many people out there, just like us, who are overwhelmed by the flood of confusing advice in the media every day.

How many times have you heard or read a new story that starts out something like “Study finds that vitamin X is the new miracle food. to cure X health issue?” There’s always a study out proving and disproving the same thing.

For example, years ago studies showed that cholesterol was “bad”. Immediately, companies started manufacturing edible products that were cholesterol free or fat free and millions of people who were afraid of dying from clogged arteries (the risk greatly exaggerated in media too, by the way) started buying these illness inducing products like margarine or sugar filled fat free products that cause indigestion, obesity and diabetes.

Then, studies came out to say there is actually a “good” type of cholesterol and a “bad” type of cholesterol. Manufacturers started using that information to market more products – none of which are real food.

Again, millions of people bought these products and swallowed sketchy advice, apparently ignorant to the fact that what you eat is completely broken down in the digestive system and what you need is utilized and the rest is excreted, unused. Your body is perfectly programmed to use real food for optimal health – just because a study on a few people showed a possible correlation to a highly controlled condition doesn’t mean that it is true or even applies to you!

Recently, that study was also dis-proven, showing that you require all types of cholesterol for proper cell regeneration and it doesn’t actually effect heart, artery or blood system health at all.

Each person is a unique combination of hormones, chemicals and physical attributes. What works for one isn’t necessarily going to work for another and to top it off, our physiology changes from day to day, so what we need today, may not be needed tomorrow! Talk about overwhelming and confusing, right?

The good news is, I’ll repeat it again, your body is perfectly programmed to utilize exactly what you need, in the perfect combination for your current state, from real food. Real Food – from nature.

You may wonder, well even if I eat whole, real food, how do I ensure I get proper nutrition? The USDA puts out this annual revision of food recommendations, this must be some mysterious highly scientific process that mere laymen cannot figure out, right?

Let me pose a question, how did human beings thrive on Earth for thousands of years before the USDA or any other “authority” started telling us how to eat?

Another question to ponder: Have you ever had a craving?

Your body lets you know what you need via cravings – this ensures you get proper nutrition!

Have you ever craved something sour? Maybe because you needed some extra vitamin C?

Have you ever craved a juicy steak? Maybe because you needed protein, iron or B vitamins?

Have you ever craved chocolate? Maybe because you required a little extra magnesium?

So, my dear, yes someone else can tell you exactly what to eat. I can give you a great meal plan, shopping list and cooking tips to get you started but, at the end of the day, your particular chemical make up, genetics and lifestyle have so much effect on your physical and mental well being that you will no doubt require a unique diet to go with it!

Since the industrial revolution in the 1800’s we’ve been more and more prone to treating our bodies like machines, replacing parts and following formulas to keep them running smoothly but we also forget that we are animals. You are nature, full of calm breezes and hurricanes. You are an ever changing and morphing body, dependent on the environment inside and outside of yourself and that means you can take advantage of both science and nature to live a gorgeous life. I’d argue that you must. As you use science in the world around you, so must you apply it to yourself. As nature adapts and rejects science (like those prickly weeds you can’t quite rid your lawn of), you must adapt to or reject science for not only survival but to thrive in the best life you desire.

I’ll leave you with one brief example of this. If you’re feeling really ill, you may go to the doctor and science can help by getting a blood test and identifying certain nutrients you might be deficient in. Like, vitamin c. If you have scurvy, a test can show that and then you know to eat more citrus and maybe even take a supplement to assist your body in recovery. Fantastic, right?

But, logic also says not to let yourself get so deficient in vitamin C that you get scurvy, right? Most likely, you would have had cravings for foods high in vitamin C. Your natural, animal instincts would have driven you to eating oranges, lemons, limes, watermelon and leafy greens.

You wouldn’t want to ignore either, would you?

This brings us full circle. Just tell me what to eat.

You only need to remember these two things:

1. Eat real food – from nature!

2. Tune into your instincts, cravings and other signals your body is giving you and trust yourself to eat what you need and get the support you need.

Now, I want to hear from you!

What are your thoughts on having a pre-made diet? How hard is it for you to figure out what to eat all the time? Do you find yourself exhibiting illness that could be avoided with better nutrition?

Let me know in the comments below!

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