Hormones and Stress

Stress, the silent killer.

Even though I eat right 90% of the time, try to get at least 6 hours of sleep, take my supplements and workout 3-4 times for the week, I still get minor acne breakouts sometimes and I know this is due to elevated stress levels.

Our bodies are naturally hard-wired to protect us daily from what it perceives as threats. Traffic, heavy workloads, lack of sleep, tight deadlines, fast paced work environment, family issues etc can register internally as a threat and as such your body treats it as such.

Adrenaline and Cortisol are the two ‘stress hormones’ that are activated when our body are ‘under threat’. Adrenaline increases the heart rate and causes blood pressure to rise while boosting your energy supplies as well. Cortisol, the primary ‘stress hormone’, increases the glucose in our bloodstream and changes immune system responses, suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes. This intricate ‘natural alarm system’ also interconnects with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation and fear.

All of the above reactions are okay once our ‘natural alarm system’ is turned off after the perceived threat is gone but if you have ‘chronic’ stress and these stressors are always present your brain gets wired to stay on this ‘fight or flight’ reaction. Over time with this stress response system activated in our body full time it begins to disrupt almost all of your body’s processes and increases the risk of anxiety, depression, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain, memory impairment etc. This is why it’s so important to learn to cope or take control of the stress factors in your life.

One way I manage my stress level is with regular exercise. Exercising helps me a lot to de-stress aka pumping me up with happy hormones (which helps with my sleep problems most times) but when my workflow gets crazy it can cut my weekly workout schedule by half. Since I like my job (and even if I didn’t I wouldn’t quit in a recession) I’ve learned to eat to de-stress as well.

Here are a few things you can add to your diet to help reduce your stress levels;

Avocado: Or zaboca or whatever you prefer to call it is filled with creamy stress proof minerals and vitamins. Only have less than a quarter though because too much can add to your waist line since its high in calories.

Berries: Strawberries and raspberries are filled with vitamin C that helps to lower blood pressure and reduce cortisol levels.

Cashews: These contain a great source of zinc that has been linked to lowering anxiety and depression, so try and get an ounce in when you feel your stress levels going up.

Chamomile Tea: Not only does a cup of this help in lowering your stress levels but it also promotes sleep. A small cup before bedtime can help you settle down after a stressful day.

Green Tea: I actually really like green tea and I can vouch for its calming effects. I’ve personally found that replacing a cup of coffee with a cup of green tea in the afternoon (it contains caffeine) helps keep me focused for the rest of the day without the energy crash that coffee can cause when it wears off.

Oats: This complex carb causes your brain to produce serotonin. I mentioned in a previous post that the effects of low serotonin in the body/brain has been linked to depression and anxiety. I usually have a cup in the morning to start my day right.

Oranges: These are a Vitamin C powerhouse aka a great stress reliever.

 

“Don’t stress. Be your best and forget the rest.” – Author unknown.

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