The Best Ways to Manage Stress
- 01 September 2016 01 September 2016
Elena Taffuri, wellness manager at Ti Sana in Italy, shares with us the best ways to manage rising stress levels caused by the constant pressures of modern day, hectic lifestyles.
Manage your stress by resetting your internal clock
One of the most frequent issues that affects the lives of people around the world is how to manage their stress levels. Fortunately, our deep-rooted body clock already holds the answer in its circadian rhythm. However, this rhtyhm is easily disrupted and we have to learn how to adjust it by balancing two key factors: cortisol and adrenaline.
Adrenaline primarily helps to preserve our life in the presence of adverse situations; but it also steps in amid the difficulties and stresses of everyday life including fevers, colds, infections, fears and fatigue. Of course, it’s particularly useful in the the first instance when, in the face of danger, our body quickly produces adrenaline to allow us to act appropriately - this is the fight or flight response we've all heard of.
However, if our adrenaline response is getting triggered by the stresses of everyday life then we can soon end up depleted. Eventually the body starts producing cortisol to aid the process, but cortisol actually has a negative effect on the body during times of high stress. This is because it takes energy directly from the body (especially our muscles) and this make us tired and fatigued. Thus, in a lifestyle of impending deadlines, worries and sensory overload from digital devices we can soon end up exhausted.
In the short term, if your stress response is active, then this can be positive as the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated and your metabolism is also improved. But over time, frequent or prolonged periods of stress is dangerous for your overall health and integrity; even if the stressors are the glaring lights in your office. This can lead to periods of chronic exhaustion, persistent fatigue and even the repression of your metabolic rate. If this happens, you are more prone to weight gain and the cycle continues. In our technologically driven world, life is producing higher levels of stress and is moving away from the natural and physiological rhythms it’s been used to for millennia. This is the era of the stress related disease.
Of course, cortisol can have a positive role on the body by improving sugar levels, increasing our anti-inflammatory capacity and generally aiding our cardiac output. But when we experience periods of intense stress cortisol production inhibits insulin, the growth hormone and testosterone production. It also negatively affects water retention, decreases collagen synthesis, accelerates osteoporosis and catabolises muscle mass.
Chronic stress causes several medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) like tiredness, abdominal pain, apathy, depression and anxiety... As such, you shouldn’t necessarily take any prescribed medication, but instead focus on resetting your circadian rhythm and learning how to manage stress.
Top tips for managing stress:
1. Drink enough water
At least two litres per day: we are made of water so we have to preserve it!
Water helps with your digestion, maintains muscle mass and helps thermoregulation.
2. Improve your nutrition
- Little or no salt, chose spices because they don't increase inflammation
- Avoid saturated fats that originate from animals (butter, bacon, fatty meats...).
- Stay away from ready-made food as they are often full of preservatives.
- Consume foods rich in minerals and fibres such as fruit and vegetables that decrease acidification in the body.
- Consider whole cereals instead of processed ones because they incorporate more nutrients and have less impact on blood sugar levels
Improve your diet and learn how to live a healthier lifestyle at Ti Sana
3. Distribute your food correctly
- Follow a circadian rhythm: eating healthy carbohydrates in the morning will help increase cortisol levels and give your body the energy it needs to face the day.
- Never skip meals – especially breakfast – otherwise the production of cortisol might not be sufficient and it’ll be harder for you to feel energised.
- Avoid eating carbs for dinner. Favour vegetables and proteins instead as at night your cortisol benefits from being lower to help you rest. Eating carbs in the evening will cause a rising of the cortisol curve and create stress in the body.
- Alkalize each meal: you always need some fruit for breakfast and snacks; and vegetables for lunch and dinner.
- Do your workout in the morning to help rise cortisol levels (exercising in the evenings, causes cortisol to peak during a less ideal period and thus alters your circadian rhythms).
- Workouts should be more intensive in the morning: focus on workouts such as weightlifting, HIIT or intensive cardio sessions.
- In the evening, prioritize relaxing activities like yoga, meditation, stretching and tai chi, to help you to calm the mind and body.
This is a guest blog post by Elena Taffuri, wellness manager at Ti Sana in Italy. If you would like to book a wellness holiday talk to one of our Travel Specialists on 0203 397 8891.