Stress management for women who cannot stop

In this post, I’d like to give some ideas to women who cannot sit still, has tons of energy, always multitask, want to get million things done, but might burn out from time to time. See the left side of the chart.

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I belong to the Go-go-go type. I cannot sit on my bum, I always do several things simultaneously, I need to exercise to burn my energy and I get anxious if I cannot take action on something right now.

Slide-show version of this article: Stress management for high cortisol women

Detailed description of the high-energy types

  • Early riser
  • Weight-gain around abdomen
  • Likes to exercise
  • Tension in neck and shoulders, headaches
  • Restlessness
  • Nervousness
  • Fast speaker
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Emotional
  • Acne-prone skin
  • Nervous stomach

But being high-energy is good, right? I mean I get a lot of work done, I’m fit, and this society promotes images of people who are always on the go-go-go.

What is wrong with being hyper?

The problem is, if we are constantly in this revved up, flight-or-fight state, our body cannot relax and rebuild itself.

Our immune system, our digestive system cannot work properly, as they are shot off by the stress-response: the high level of cortisol and the over-driven sympathetic nervous system.

This is not supposed to be a permanent lifestyle.

If we are not doing anything to balance things out and relax, we can have serious health issues:

  • Frequent infections, colds, UTI, etc.
  • Panic and anxiety disorders
  • Chronic sleep problems
  • Alcohol and other addiction problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis

The good news is, there’s a lot we can do to prevent these problems. Unlike the low-cortisol types, whose conditions are partially result of stressful events in the past, and some of the damage seem to be irreversible, we actually have a chance to deal with the stress real time. Right now.

The goal is to help our body to recover, rebuild and heal by:

  • getting out of the fight-or-flight mode,
  • chilling the sympathetic nervous system,
  • letting parasympathetic nervous system work,
  • lowering the cortisol levels to a healthy range.

And this is all done by managing our stress.

Tips to deal with your stress

Relaxation

I start with this one because it seems to be the hardest for this type. The very reason why we are prone to these health issues and burning out is that we have trouble relaxing. We have that urge to finish our to-do list, to keep working, to keep thinking, solve that problem…

And relaxing or meditation looks so boring!

But we need it anyway.

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There are some immediate benefits of relaxation:

  • improved sleep,
  • lowered blood pressure,
  • reduced anxiety, etc.

Plus, you can prevent developing high blood pressure and cardiac issues down the road.

So as you are reading this, do a favor to yourself fifteen years from now, and take my relaxation tips seriously. 🙂

Tip 1: Meditation for hypers

Are you ready to sit in lotus position for an hour every day?

No? Well, me neither, but luckily, we don’t have to. There are easier ways to get started.

Three deep breath mediation is something I use when I notice that my thoughts are running like crazy or when I feel stressed out or overwhelmed.

How to do it: Stop. Tell yourself: I need a break. Then take one deep belly breath with your full attention on your breathing. Then one more deep breath. Then one more.

It is amazing how well this works. Trust me.

Walking meditation is great because we don’t have to sit still. I recommend to do it first when you have 15-20 minutes but with practice it can be done while you are walking to the office from the car.

How to do it: Walk slowly. Align your steps with the rhythm of your breathing. Breath in, one step. Breath out, one step. Pay attention to your walking, breathing, and the environment as if you have never seen it before. If you start thinking about work or problems, just say ‘thinking’ and bring your attention back to your steps.

Again, very effective way to relax.

Guided meditation videos are also great if you are not sure where to start but you would like to sleep better for example.

Tip 2: Mindfulness

Mindfulness is very helpful if you are like me, always busy worrying, thinking, stressing myself out with my own thoughts.

The actual life in this very second usually way more relaxing than thoughts about problems in the past or in the future. That’s the point of mindfulness.

How to do it: Focus on what you are doing. Washing dishes, eating, drinking. Focus on your surroundings. When thoughts pop up, let them go and bring your attention back to your activity.

Since I’m doing this, my anxiety level is manageable, I’m more comfortable and I don’t get that rushed feeling so often.

Tip 3: Journaling

Tip 4: Use ABCDE method to keep not helpful thoughts and feelings under control

I don’t know about you, but for me, sometimes my interpretation about events, my angry or frustrated thoughts give me more trouble than life itself. One well-known way to deal with this is the ABCDE method from behavioral therapy. The link goes to a short video to explain you how to use this quick and effective way and stop yourself from making mountains out of molehills.

Sleep

For this type, sleep can be a problem because the high level of cortisol prevents peaceful sleep. But we need sleep to relax our stress systems and lower our cortisol level. Do whatever you need to do to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. If you have trouble sleeping 3-4 times a week for a month, you should get help. (I resisted getting help for a while, because I thought my doctor will give me sleeping pills. But no. He recommended tryptophan, an amino-acid, safe and non-addictive, and my sleep improved significantly. I’m not saying that this amino-acid will help you, I’m just saying that don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor.)

  • Get 7-8 hours of sleep per night
  • Avoid work, screens and stressful discussions within an hour of bedtime
  • Schedule intense exercise early in the day
  • If you have problems sleeping, get help from your doctor

Exercise

Exercise is very important for this type. It supports your health in many ways:

  • Keeps belly fat under control
  • Helps to prevent diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity
  • Produces serotinin, dopamin, endorphins, etc.
  • Burns all the excess ‘charge’ that comes from the fight-or-flight response
  • Helps to sleep better
  • Reduces anxiety

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The recommendation is to try to do some exercise almost every day, even if it is just a walk on some busy day. And try to get a good sweat, moderate-intense cardio, few times a week. Include strength training once a week. For health reasons and because your body will look good. 🙂

If you just had a crash and burnout…

then take some rest. Don’t exercise for a few days, other than a walk in the evening or some relaxing stretches. Once you have recovered, you can work out as described above.

Nutrition for hypers

Avoid caffeine

We are hyper by default. No need to exaggerate it even more. Drink green or white tea instead. Avoid any stimulants after lunch if you have sleep issues.

Eat low-glycemic foods

The goal is to minimize our elevated risk for abdominal fat, diabetes and heart disease. Eat foods with low glycemic index. Don’t eat stuff like cereal, white bread, white rice, potato, pastry, sugar in your drinks; eat more vegetables than sugary fruits.

Buy some important supplements

Boost your immune system with vitamin C, D and zinc. Get tryptophan and tyrosine amino-acids from your doctor or from high-protein foods. They keep our nervous systems from overworking and burning out.

Limit alcohol

It is fattening, addictive and disturbs your sleep. Try to have less than five drinks a week.

Have a good breakfast

Eat a good, nutritious breakfast with protein and whole grains and veggies, and smaller meals later on the day.

This is the second part of my series about stress management for women. In the first one, I focused on tips for women with low cortisol levels, who struggle with fatigue, lack of energy and low motivation.

Takeaway for women who have chronic high cortisol levels

In order to:

  • Get out of fight-or-flight mode,
  • Lower your cortisol level,
  • Calm your sympathetic nervous system,

you need to:

  • Exercise regularly,
  • Use relaxation techniques daily,
  • Eat well,
  • Get 7-8 hours sleep per night.

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Stress management for women with chronic fatigue

Stress management tips usually apply to anyone. But our body and its response to stress is not the same as the next person’s. In this post I’d like to give some tips to people who live with chronic fatigue and low energy most of the time.

Find out your stress management type

First, what is your body’s stress type? Our hormonal system and our nervous system behaves differently, mostly as a result of our personal history. I made this little chart to help you find out what is your type. The chart is based on a great book, So stressed – The Ultimate Stress-Relief Plan for Women, by Stephanie McClellan, M.D. and Beth Hamilton, M.D.

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Today’s post is aimed to women who are on the right side of this diagram, the low-energy types. Their common characteristic is that they have low level of cortisol which leaves them feeling sluggish and tired a lot.

Detailed symptoms of low cortisol stress types

Again, this list is coming from the So stressed book mentioned before:

  • Fatigue, exhaustion
  • Lack of motivation
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Sensitivity to stress
  • Increased susceptibility to inflammation
  • Late to bed and often feel tired when waking up
  • Weight gain around hips and thighs
  • Digestive issues
  • Blood pressure fluctuations (Always tired type)
  • Slow heart rate, faints easily (No motivation type)
  • Boredom, withdrawal from people (No motivation type)
  • Aches and pains (Always tired type)
  • Severe PMS (Always tired type)

Tips to manage your body’s reaction to stress

Nutrition

Part of our stress-management toolbox is what we eat.

Vitamins for low-cortisol body types

  • B complex
  • A D and E if you have inflammatory bowel problems as this condition makes it difficult to absorb fat-soluble vitamins
  • Zink to support immune function

Meals

Low-cortisol types need food to stimulate the production of cortisol throughout their day. It will help to balance the nervous system and lessen pains and fatigue. Eat high protein meals three times a day, consistently about the same time every day.

If prone to PMS pay attention to eat foods high in fiber and low in salt. Within months this simple change helped me to significantly lower my PMS symptoms like water retention or irritability and mood swings.

Avoid beverages that contain sugar and drink plenty of water.

Snacks

For healthy comfort foods, dark chocolate and high fiber snacks are recommended. Read the ‘Superfood Snacks’ book on healthy and very yummy snack recipes. Most of them require no fuss, we just put everything in the food processor. 🙂

Anti-inflammatory diet

As this type has increased vulnerability to inflammation, they can benefit from anti-inflammatory diet. This diet recommends eating avoiding high glycemic index foods, fructose and trans fat and damaged fats from margarine, refined oils, and grilled and fried foods. They recommend eating inflammation-fighting foods like turmeric, ginger,  leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables and berries.

Inflammation-Fighting-Foods-Infographic
Source: http://www.fitneass.com

Relaxation

Relaxation techniques help you to calm down your strong stress-reaction. Also helps you to deal with the pains and discomforts that often accompany the ‘Always tired’ type by their forties.

Basic relaxation

The goal of basic relaxation to calm the mind and the body, and dissolve anxiety and revved-up state of mind. It is extremely important to the Always tired type, as they are very sensitive to stressful events.

Incorporate any of these methods into your daily routine, much like brushing your teeth. Think about it as mental hygiene. 🙂 Try:

  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Autogenic training

For how-to and detailed description on these, please turn to YouTube.

Gratefulness and other positive emotions

Research shows that positive emotions like gratitude, curiosity, love, hope or inspiration are closely related to happiness. One way to add it to your everyday life is to consciously spend a few minutes each day on listing 5 things you are grateful for, and appreciating the love and beauty around you.

Gratitude-Graphic
Source: JairekRobbins.com

I can personally attest that it is an amazing habit that can turn dark mood and low motivation around, even during not so happy times in our lives. I use the 6 phase meditation every morning that includes gratitude and it helps to start my day well.

Sleep

Low-energy types are usually night owls. If you are like them, you easily stay up after midnight and have trouble getting out of bed in the morning. But most of us need about 7-8 hours of sleep every night to stay healthy. What can be done to re-set your circadian rhythm to a more reasonable bedtime?

  • Avoid caffeine after 3 pm
  • Dim the light in the evening in the house
  • Expose yourself to bright morning light for an hour (I know, it is impossible during winter. Try artificial sunlight lamps.)
  • Go to bed 15 minutes earlier in every 2-3 days until you readjust your bedtime
  • Get regular exercise but not within a few hours of bedtime
  • Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before bedtime

Exercise

Women who belong to these low-energy types often suffer from chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia or arthritis by the time they reach their middle-age.

Despite the aches, pains and exhaustion, low-energy types can greatly benefit from exercise. Exercise produces endorphins, natural pain-killers; it will also increase your energy, and help you lose weight if you need to. You just have to do it wisely. Don’t look at what other people do for exercise, as it might be too much for you.

  • Start with very low intensity and short intervals. Few minutes of walk every day might be a good start. If you feel exhausted afterwards, decrease the time or the intensity. If you were fine, gradually increase them.
  • Try water-based exercises, if available, since they are gentle and great for anybody with pain.
  • Get approval and advice from your health-care provider.

Dealing with the past

This type has low levels of cortisol as the result of chronic stress earlier in their life, typically in-utero and childhood. I personally know four women among friends and family members who suffered from childhood abuse. They all belong to this stress-type, and developed chronic health issues by their forties and it is quite typical according to the researchers.

Research also shows that women who suffered childhood abuse have similar physical symptoms and psychological problems than women currently experiencing abuse in their lives. Which says to me that past trauma is still hurting you unless you do something about it.

Trauma therapy

One scientific and effective way to recover from traumatic experiences is EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy. It works faster than traditional talk therapy and also covered by insurance.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.  […] EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. Source: EMDR Institute, Inc.

Forgiveness therapy

Research shows that forgiveness therapy is effective in improving physical and mental health of women who suffered abuse, including childhood abuse.

Forgiveness therapy doesn’t mean that these women are asked to agree with what happened, or stop being angry, or to reconcile with abuser, or anything like that. Forgiveness therapy helps us to be free of the emotional burden eventually and heal.

Forgiveness often is confused with reconciling, forgetting, pardoning, and/or accepting even though it is different from all of those terms. Some people criticize forgiveness because they think that advocating forgiveness leads to further abuse or hurt. Safety is the first and most important consideration. Thus, a survivor of any type of abuse would not be encouraged to forgive her abuser until she was safe and removed from the abusive environment. When one forgives, she does not give up her right to a just solution; forgiveness and justice occurs together. Source: Journal of Women’s Health Care

If you feel you might be affected by trauma I’d like to encourage you to seek help. None of us deserves to suffer. Healing is possible.

These were my tips for you if you struggle with low energy levels regularly due to lack of enough cortisol.

I hope you have found some helpful ideas. Pick one or two and try it for a few weeks and see if it is working for you.

I will post stress-management tips for women who are on the left side of the diagram soon.

What are your favorite ways to deal with your stress? Let me know in the comments below.

Take care,

Livia,

Life coach focusing on health and wellness in Calgary

Resources:

So stressed – The Ultimate Stress-Relief Plan for Women by Stephanie McClellan, M.D. and Beth Hamilton, M.D.

 

7 stress management tips for a relaxing family vacation

I have three kids. ‘Relaxing’ and ‘family vacation’ just doesn’t go in the same sentence for me. I loooong to go somewhere to see the world but having to drag three troublemakers with me… Well, it puts lots of stress and worry to my vacation week, to say the least.

If you feel the same, and would like to enjoy this happy time together this year, read on for my favorite tricks.

Tip 1: Organize just enough

Whenever we are traveling, I can’t sleep for two weeks beforehand. I worry that I forget something, I write memos for myself at 3 am, I’m thinking of ‘What if…’ scenarios… I’m excited but very, very anxious as well.

Cover the most important stuff but don’t drive yourself crazy! Everyone is different, so adjust this tip to your habits. I write one list of what we need to bring, and one for what needs to be done before vacation.

Must-haves to bring:

  • passports, visas, etc. (if applicable)
  • prescription medicines, first aid kit
  • bathroom stuff, depending on your accomodations
  • ziplock bags if flying
  • clothes
  • favorite stuffies
  • entertainment for the trip/flight
  • food for the road
  • camping gear

Must haves to do:

  • get vaccinations (if applicable)
  • book tickets, accomodation
  • get the car checked before road trip
  • find a house-sitter/give key to neighbour
  • find a pet-sitter
  • cancel newspaper delivery
  • unplug/lock garage door opener
  • turn off/ close everything

Tip 2: Let go of the idea of perfect vacation

There will be stuff forgotten. Mistake made. Feelings hurt. Money lost. Time wasted. Stop worrying about how to prevent it. Do your basic planning, use common sense and relax. Summer holiday doesn’t need to be perfect to be fun and memorable. 🙂

(Did I tell you about the day when my husband thought chocolate ice cream would cure my son’s stomach ache and the three year old threw up chocolate all over the rental car? Well, it wasn’t fun but sure it was memorable. 🙂 )

Tip 3: Watch your kids’ triggers, and your owns

When on holiday, we are out of routine, out of place, in a hurry. Add some jet leg and not enough sleep, and we have some cranky little people on our hands.

To avoid huge meltdowns, be mindful of your kids’ triggers and step in on time:

  • Count transitions: getting out of the car is one. Getting back in, that’s two. It depends on the kids, but my mine usually tolerate maybe four, and then want to be left alone, explore the world freely.
  • Try have them enough sleep, no more than a few hours less than their usual amount.
  • Be aware of noise, crowds, visual clutter. If your child is sensitive, these can overwhelm them easily, leading to meltdown. Offer a calming activity in a quiet place. Even in the middle of Disneyland, my daughter and I managed to find a closed-off spot under a tree, had a long lunch just ‘people watching’. Half an hour and she was ready for excitement again.

And let’s face it, we all have triggers, too. Try to keep them in mind when planning your days, and don’t push yourself too hard. Ask the other grown-up to give you a break, if you feel you will lose it.

Tip 4: Basic physical needs: food, water, layers

Give us the most beautiful places on earth, but if the basics are missing, we become grumpy. Or maybe it’s just us, but when my kids get hungry, they start whining, lying down on the ground and the like.

  • Pack filling, no-sugary snacks for hikes and long trips. The stuff available at pit stops or on airplanes are usually… well… you’ve seen it.
  • Don’t forget water! Not drinking enough can give us pretty bad headaches by the end of the day.
  • Have hats and lightweight layers at hand for places with moody weather. Out at the sea or in caves you need actual warm sweaters!

Tip 5: Be there

So you have paid a big chunk of money to finally get away and have fun. But your mind is still cluttered with work problems and your phone keeps you busy.

Pretend this is your last vacation. Really. The kids will grow up in no time and never be this close to you again. Just look around as if this is your last day on earth. Enjoy the sights, sounds, smells. Every now and then take a few deep breath and get back to the here and now. Soak it in. Burn it in your memory. Enjoy.

Tip 6: Face reality as a grown up

Let’s face it, we get pissed off when life is not going our way. Beach day and it’s raining. Lovely vacation and the kids start throwing up the third night. Our favorite place we always eat at is totally jam packed. Everything is beautiful and the damn kid is screaming. Shit happens and we find ourselves all upset, in a bad mood, grumpy like a teenager who cannot do what he wants. I’ve been there. It is hard.

Recently I was able to change my attitude about these things a bit. In about 30 percent of the time, okay? Still working on it, but the key is this:

Give up all hope to the alternatives to the present moment.

Pema Chodron – When things fall apart

There are times when we just cannot fix it. Period. We are better off accepting the bad news as is and moving on with our lives. Trust me. This little advice made a huge difference in my life lately. Give it a try when life throws you a lemon tomorrow.

Tip 7: Add something fun just for yourself

Be selfish here and try to carve out a few hours for something you love. A massage, a good swim, lying in the sun alone, or a chance to draw some quick city-scapes in your sketchbook… Whatever it is, make a deal with the family and have your own little getaway. It will make you smile again. 🙂

That’s it, folks. I hope I could help make your next vacation a bit more relaxing. Leave your favorite tips or fun holiday disasters in the comments below! 🙂

Have fun,

Livia

Three easy ways to work on your goals and enjoy summer, too

Summer is short. Use my tips to make the most of it, every day.

Water, sunshine, summer breeze. And work.

Good match? Not really.

But I got into a new habit this month:

I take my kids to the outdoor pool, have a good swim then I lay down on the grass and catch up on my business reading or write a blog post. (Disclaimer: My kids are older than eight and very good, level 4 and 5 swimmers.)

I take turns relaxing and working a bit, and generally I’m having a good time, almost as much when my parents took us to the pool as kids.

So my advice to all of you: Don’t wait for your vacation week, enjoy summer every day!

Three tips for a great long summer

Get out of the house every single day

Summer is short. It may feels never ending with the kids out of school but in a few short weeks it will be cold and dark again. So throw the remote away, leave your phone on charger and go outside. Suppose you are at home by six, you have at least three beautiful summer evening hours to enjoy outside.

Goals supported

  • Get stress-relief 
  • Lose weight
  • Exercise
  • Live more healthy
  • Practice mindfulness

Don’t tell me none of those were your goals! I won’t believe you. 🙂

Ten quick, easy and cheap things to do outside on weeknights

  • Walk in the park or in a nice neighborhood.
  • Invite a friend for a jog.
  • Eat breakfast/dinner out on the deck.
  • Play Frisbee in front of your house. 
  • Take the neighbor’s dogs for a walk.
  • Go for a lazy bike ride.
  • Go for a quick dip. Outdoor pools are open till 8:00 pm. (Keep essentials packed in a big bag all summer. That’s what I do, and I just add fresh beach towels, swimsuits and water bottles quickly.)
  • Set up a reading spot outside (chair, cushion, coffee table) and do your reading there.
  • Sit at a coffee shop with a terrace.
  • Go down to the beach/bay/riverside if you are lucky and have one!

Eat light

Who wants to steam in the kitchen or wait for an order at a crowded eatery when you can relax outside?

Time-saving tips for summer

  • Eat Mediterranean. Little pan-roasted chicken or fish and salads with avocado and leftover rice.
  • Marinade one bigger batch of meat and you can prepare them in ten minutes when you need to.
  • Same with rice.
  • Mix and match salads: keep some greens, toppings and dressings at hand, that way you will easily put some crunchy health bowl together in five minutes.
  • Shawarmas, tortillas, tacos and the like. Quick and easy, and always different.
  • Try stir-fries. Nina Simonds in Simple Asian Meals have a handy one-page cheat sheet for healthy stir fries.
  • Fruits. Fruits and nuts.

Goals supported

  • Eat healthy
  • Save money
  • Save time
  • Lose weight

Forget 80 percent of your To Do List

I mean it. Just look at your to do list. If it is in your head, write it down. I wait for you.

Now pick the top one or two that makes the most impact on your life. Think matter of life and death.

(If you have ten on your list, pick two. Fifteen, pick three. More than fifteen? Get some help, girl!)

Do them first thing in the morning.

Okay, you can have your coffee or tea then go and finish them off.

Delegate or postpone the rest. 

They can wait until the rain and cold comes in November. It will come and you will have nothing better to do. Stupid chores don’t go anywhere. 

Goals achieved

  • Laser focus on priorities
  • uncluttered life
  • Get stress-relief

That’s it. This is my advice for you folks. Enjoy your life in the sunshine, the warm weather, no snow pants… Go Californian for a bit, for goodness sake! Winter will catch up on us way too soon!

What is your favorite trick to carve out more summer fr yourself? Share it with us in the comments below! 🙂

Take care,

Livia

 

Ten easy ways to decrease your stress level

Chronic stress can undermine our health. Read these simple but effective tips to support yourself during stressful times in your life.

Are you struggling with pain in your neck and shoulder? Daily headaches? Or digestive issues?

Or maybe you have trouble sleeping or concentrating… Feeling anxious or rushed… Looking forward to crush in front of a screen… Tired of all the family and social demands on you…

I know that I feel like this from time to time. Every day stress is a lot, kids, work and all! Then a big life change comes, and throws us off the wagon right away.

  • Moving,
  • going back to work or school,
  • an injury or serious illness in the family,
  • marriage, divorce or new baby,
  • or just bad conflicts at the office or at home…

Chronic stress takes its toll on us, as we all know. But who has time to worry about it, when we can barely keep our heads above the water?

I believe practicing good self-care is very important, specially when we are not twenty years old anymore. Our body can only take so much beating, you know.

That’s why I collected ten simple things you can do today to give yourself the extra support during stressful times.

Part 1: How to help your body to deal with stress

 

Eat protein

Our body needs a few special amino acids to produce neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, etc.) to deal better with stress.

As a quick example, eating a good-sized chicken breast, brown rice and a salad topped with nuts and avocado should contain enough amino acids for a woman for a day.

Other sources of these important amino acids (tryptophan and tyrosine, if you want to google it) are:

  • chicken, turkey, beef, game, fish, liver,
  • almond, cashew, peanuts, sunflower seeds,
  • soybeans and chickpeas,
  • milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs,
  • oats and brown rice,
  • various fruit and veggies (avocados, bananas, raisins, plums, tomatoes, carrots).

These are best eaten together with complex carbs, and supplemented with vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid, as they needed for the production of the neurotransmitters. (Individuals on low-carb or vegan diet might have to pay extra attention to get all these nutrients.)

Ditch sugar, choose complex carbs

Our brain needs fuel to operate efficiently: an even supply of glucose.

Eating complex carbs, foods with low glycemic index, that absorbed slowly, is the best to have the steady energy supply. It also helps to prevent insulin resistance that comes from our chronically activated hormonal and nervous stress systems.

On the other side, simple carbs (cereal, white bread, white rice, baked goods with white flour or juices) are

  • digested very quickly,
  • causing a big rise and fall in the blood glucose level,
  • leaving us with mental fatigue and low energy.

Have ABCDE supplements plus zinc, magnesium and omega-3

Under stress, we might need more vitamins and minerals. The following are especially helpful:

  • Vitamin B group: to reduce anxiety and stress, improve brain function, mood control and energy production.
  • Vitamin A, C and E, antioxidants: to fight oxidativ stress.
  • Vitamin D: supports the immune system, improves mood, anxiety and depression. During the winter, almost all of us are depleted of it.
  • Zinc, calcium and iron
  • Omega-3: essential for the health of the brain and the cardiovascular system, and standard western diet contains only the fraction of the necessary amount.

Get a good 7-8 hours sleep

Both of our stress systems, the hormonal and the parasympathetic nervous system, need to rest at night. Sleep prevents them to be constantly revved up and working, and allows our body to recover. Plus, with sufficient sleep, our brain works better, our immune system is stronger, and we can keep our cool easier and bad moods under control. So if you have sleep problems, try to find out what can help you to get more shuteye. (I know, sometimes with babies it is terribly difficult!)

Exercise

Why zebras don’t get ulcers? asks one stress research book. I think because they just run off the anxiety and stress caused by lurking lions, hyenas and the like! 🙂 Working out will help you relieve tension, get some free endorphins, and sleep better. Even just a short walk outside during your lunch break can do a lot for you, so why not give it a try?

Part 2: How to help your mind to manage stress

Problem with our big brains is that it creates more stress than it can solve! We are always mourning over the past or worried about the future. Try to stay with the task at hand, and look at these ideas to relax your mind.

Talk to a trusted friend or family member

Humans are social creatures. Connecting with others can be a great way to lower our stress level. Studies show, also helps to stay healthier.

Write down your worries

Keeping a diary/journal is a well-know way to deal with stress or trauma. Try to do it regularly, let your words flow and don’t worry about the spelling. I confess I’m not writing every day, but whenever I feel especially upset or worried about something, it is a great relief, and at the end, I’m much calmer and I can see the problem more clearly.

Renew a beloved hobby

Do you know what a state of flow means? When we are so engaged in an activity we love and we’re good at, that we forget about time and the outside world. And it is one of the best things you can do for your happiness.

Meditate

When I told my friend last year that I started doing meditations, she made a face and then politely said that it is not for her, but if it helps me… 🙂

Anyway, if you experience constantly rushing thoughts or feel that you are just running through your life, meditation might worth trying. And you don’t need to meditate for an hour every day! To have the benefits of calmer mind and body, about 15 minutes few times a week seems enough in my case. For some people, even 1 minute meditation works. Or try walking, drinking tea or washing dishes meditations.

Be grateful every day

Why? Because you are still alive. And because gratitude is one out of the five factors affecting our happiness that is actually in our control.

I started this habit more a year ago, and I find it very helpful. Every time I go for a walk, I quietly think about three things I’m grateful for. Or three things that went well that day. You can also write it in a journal at night, before you go to sleep. It helps us to see that although not everything is perfect, there are many good things in our lives.

Takeaway about stress-relief

Support your body

  • Eat protein
  • Choose complex carbs
  • Have ABCDE vitamins plus zinc, magnesium and omega-3
  • Exercise regularly (walk 3 times a week)
  • Sleep 7-8 hours

Support your mind

  • Talk to a friend
  • Write a journal
  • Have a hobby
  • Meditate
  • Be grateful

That’s it, my list of sanity tips for busy women. Pick one for the body and one for the mind, and see how much better you will feel. Take care!