Stress is a well-known phenomenon that can be caused by numerous problems in our lives. Besides emotional difficulties, the body can also react to a stress response with physical problems such as an infection, sugar imbalance or insomnia.
In both mental stress and physical stress, the body’s hormonal response to stress is the same, and can manifest itself in various ways. Symptoms include fatigue, sleep disturbances, muscle pain, anxiety, and increased susceptibility to infections.
Studies have also revealed long-term consequences of persistent stress. Changes in lifestyle and diet are essential to treat stress conditions. Here are 10 tips that will help your body deal with stressful situations, and lead you to better health.
Include moderate amount of carbs in your diet
When the body is under constant stress, it has trouble balancing blood sugar levels which can lead to low sugar levels or fluctuating high and low sugar levels. A diet with a moderate amount of carbohydrates will help balance blood sugar.
Eat enough protein, especially in the morning
Diets with a high protein level can reduce food cravings and balance blood sugar.
Don’t go hungry
Try not to go hungry and make sure to eat several meals and snacks during the day to balance sugar levels.
Meals should include protein and fat, and never consist only of carbs.
Avoid high-potassium foods if your blood pressure drops during stress
Do you, like some people, experience drops in blood pressure following a severe, prolonged stressful situation? If so, it’s recommended to avoid foods that contain high potassium levels because potassium can lower blood pressure.
Foods rich in potassium are bananas, dried figs, raisins, dates, potatoes and sweet potatoes. Yet it’s recommended that you eat enough salt to maintain normal blood pressure. You can do this by salting your food, and you can start your day with a glass of water with half a teaspoon to a teaspoon of salt in it.
Avoid coffee and alcohol
Caffeine is a stimulant and it creates more stress. Alcohol leads to unnecessary pressure on the liver, which in stressful situations is already under increased load. So it’s recommended to completely avoid coffee and alcohol until your body recovers from a stressful situation.
Sleep properly and rest enough
There’s nothing more important than adequate sleep and rest for those who suffer from stress.
If you feel like you need to sleep or rest during the day, don’t be shy about doing it if your schedule allows it. The goal is to rest your body as much as possible.
Be smart about physical activity
Overtraining is one common cause of physical stress. Signs of overtraining include difficulty recovering from your workouts, lack of improvement or deterioration in your performance, an increase in body fat percentage despite regular exercise, insomnia, anxiety, fatigue, muscle or joint pain, recurring illnesses and depression.
It’s better to do low-intensity exercise such as walking, cycling, swimming or yoga and avoid high-intensity training such as CrossFit.
Go out into nature
Nature relaxes and refreshes, reduces stress, and improves mental and physical fatigue. It’s important to spend time in nature regularly.
Include fun and play in your daily routine, and connect with other people. Many people who suffer from prolonged stress feel mentally worn out, exhausted and depressed.
Having fun, being active and spending time with other people restores both your physical and mental state and can significantly help those who suffer from stress.
Manage your stress
Yoga, deep breathing, meditation, and biofeedback will all help you manage your stress properly.
Start small. Take five minutes a day to meditate and gradually increase the time. It’s important that you do what suits you.
For example, if one day you feel like you can’t sit still, do something with motion like yoga or walking. You can combine several methods, but it’s important that you persist. Either way, remember to start slow and be forgiving of yourself.
The changes that occur as a result of stress management are often slow, but their impact is profound and is maintained over time.
Dr. Dalit Dreman-Medina is an expert in family medicine and integrative and functional medicine.