Summer can be synonymous with vacations and relaxation, but when the temperature is high, this can cause increased irritability, nervousness and stress confirms psychiatry professor, Nancy Molitor from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.  As mentioned in the article Eating for Summer, summer is the season to fortify the nervous system. It is therefore a time to concentrate efforts on stress reduction and relaxation.

Although stress management is complex, keeping a mind-body-spirit balance is essentially the key to overcoming stress.   Prioritizing the things that you can control and that make you feel good, is an essential step in managing your stress.  Here are my top 5 tips for reducing stress while attending to your body.

1. Exercise makes us feel great for a number of reasons.  Research actually shows that it reduces stress, anxiety and muscle tension as effectively as a minor tranquillizer!  Exercise increases the secretion of endorphins, the body’s natural feel good chemicals, helping boost your mood naturally.

Exercise also, indirectly makes you feel great, by toning and sculpting your body, which improves your body image.  Just 30 minutes of exercise each day, even a brisk walk after lunch, is beneficial.

2.  Getting your Zzzzs  Adequate sleep (7-9 hours per night) allows you to recuperate, be more alert, and feel energized to take on the day.   Our bodies burn more energy under stress, therefore the need for recuperation is higher.  This also avoids the vicious cycle of using to stimulants like caffeine or sugar during the day to stay alert.

3.  Food and Drink  A diet rich in whole grains, omega 3s, and fresh fruits and vegetables can help combat stress.  You can maintain your energy levels and avoid peaks and drops with three well balanced meals a day.  Avoid processed and rich foods like frozen dinners, refined sugars and caffeine.  Remember that heavy, rich meals cause us to be less alert as the extra energy used to digest them could be utilized more efficiently.  Green Tea is a good coffee alternative because it contains less caffeine and is rich in antioxidants which fight against the destructive effects of stress.

Using alcohol to provide an escape from stress is common although not favorable in the long run.  Relief is temporary and like sugar and caffeine, alcohol causes hormonal imbalances which have repercussions on our stress coping capabilities. Melissa and chamomile are two examples of a wide range of herbal teas that can help you unwind and relax at the end of the day.

4.  Removal of Toxins  Stress can originate from external and internal factors.  A high toxic load due to the consumption of processed foods, sugar, a high-meat and dairy diet, caffeine, alcohol, as well as environmental pollution, has a negative impact on your body’s internal balance. Your body must continually compensate for this stress by trying to rebalance itself.  Solution: Reducing our toxic load using: Drinking sufficient amounts of water, cleanses, lymphatic drainage massage, saunas, diuretic plants, etc.

5.  Rewarding yourself is especially important when you are facing stressful situations.  Finding constructive, rather than destructive ways to do so is key to staying healthy during these times.  That is; not using food, alcohol or drugs for comfort or as a reward, but instead, finding things or activities that really relax you and make you feel pampered, such as massage, yoga, a pedicure, a bath, time to practice your favorite hobbies, etc.

Managing stress is all about taking control of our lives, and these 5 tips can help us establish this control by creating balance.  After all, a healthy body contributes to a healthy mind.

Michelle Savard, Naturopath

To learn more about lymphatic massage or to book a session contact Tony Sharkey(toncol2@yahoo.com), Massage and Aroma Therapist in Torino.

References:

  1. http://www.naturaltherapypages.com.au/article/Exercise_Endorphins
  2. http://stresscourse.tripod.com/id38.html
  3. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/stress.html
  4. Wilson, James L. Adrenal Fatigue : the 21st century stress syndrome. Smart Publications. 2011
  5. http://www3.lastampa.it/benessere/sezioni/salute/articolo/lstp/461854/