Beating stress with exercise and nutrition.
It’s easy to become overly focused on work and as a result, ignore warning signs over your health. By supporting your body with good nutrition and some exercise, you’re more likely to feel stronger and as a result, more resilient to any stress you may be experiencing.
It may only take a small change to improve mood, increase energy, and generally help you to feel back on top of your game.
One of these changes should be to make time for some exercise. Aerobic exercise in particular, but any activity that raises your heart rate and makes you sweat can be an excellent way to lift mood, increase energy, sharpen your focus, and relax both the mind and body. The rhythmic movement experienced whilst walking briskly or running, for example, can be especially soothing for the nervous system. To ensure the best results, ideally you should try to get at least 30 minutes of some type of activity per day but of course, it might be easier to break this up into shorter chunks.
It’s not just taking regular exercise that helps. The food choices we make can have a massive impact on how we feel and by eating smaller, more frequent nutritious meals, a more even level of blood sugar can be maintained. This, in turn, helps to ensure energy levels and focus. Low blood sugar, on the other hand, can lead you to feel anxious and irritable and of course, eating too much can make you lethargic. Hardly productive.
Some key points to consider
- Reduce the amounts of refined sugars and processed foods – whilst they can deliver a quick uplift, equally the crash comes just as fast.
- Eat more foods that contain Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, raw nuts and seeds (considering any allergies naturally).
- Smoking when you’re feeling stressed may seem calming, but nicotine is a stimulant of course which leads to higher, not lower, levels of anxiety. It’s a similar story with caffeine I’m afraid.
- Alcohol can perhaps seem like it’s temporarily reducing your worries, but too much can cause anxiety as it wears off and negatively affect your mood. There is also the tendency to snack or make bad food choices and this can mean reaching for sugary or savoury foods more likely.
Extracted and rewritten from an original article Stress in the Workplace by Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Robert Segal, M.A. (helpguide.org, June 2019)