“It’s just stress.” I hear that phrase often, explaining away a headache, gut pain, fatigue, anxiety. A certain amount of stress is part of life, but being in a constant state of it, including negative or abusive environments, can be physically detrimental to the body. Cortisol is a hormone released by the brain as a rapid response to a stressor. Long term cortisol production (stress/anxiety) lowers the body’s immune system functioning, raises blood pressure and inhibits the ability to metabolize fat. There are a variety of ways that our environments can adversely affect our health, so what can we do?
Hippocrates was the first on record to recognize the connection between emotional disorders and physical ailments. Ancient Greeks and Romans believed in large amounts of physical activity to provide mental well being, along with a lifestyle featuring moderation.
Mens sana in corpore sano , a sane mind in a sound body, was a way of life.
Obviously, the world has changed since then, but we can learn from our Ancestors.
There are simple things we can do today to take control of stress and the effects of it. It’s a fact that moderate amounts of exercise release endorphins that help combat anxiety and stress. This improves sleep, overall mood and increases energy. I have found that getting up 30 minutes early to do yoga sets the tone for my day, places my mind in a peaceful and productive state. Try any type of exercise that you enjoy as a motivator for getting up and keeping a routine.
There are foods we can consume daily that naturally provide mood boosting elements. Start your day with a few and take something as a healthy snack for later in the afternoon:
- Oatmeal: Causes the body to release serotonin, an antioxidant and feel good chemical that helps combat stress.
- Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries contain high amounts of Vitamin C. This is helpful to combat stress, lower blood pressure and lower cortisol production.
- Cashews: High in zinc which assists with anxiety and depression levels.
- Garlic: Contains powerful antioxidants, including allicin, that assist the immune system to fight off colds and heart disease.
Try a few changes today and see how invigorated your mind and body feels!
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Chef Leah Schuler
I am a Personal Certified Executive Chef (ACF) and a Certified Dietary Manager (ANFP). I am passionate about how food plays a role in mind and body wellness. I create menus and diet plans to meet specific needs, train others regarding preparation and implementation, and present on a wide variety of Culinary and Nutrition topics through my company, Schuler Consulting.