By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Best Life lead nutritionist
If you’re like the majority of Americans—67 percent of them, to be exact—then you’re stressed out. And your stress may trigger physical symptoms, like fatigue or upset stomach, as it does in 72 percent of Americans, according to an American Psychological Association survey. These symptoms are bad enough, but stress can be even more destructive, causing chronic inflammation, depression, heart disease, and other conditions.
There are many ways to combat stress, including meditation, social support, building your confidence, and coping skills, but exercise is near the top of the list. Exercise primarily refers to aerobic exercise (cardio), but a few studies also indicate that strength training is a good stress-buster as well.
Getting sweaty is exceptionally effective because it attacks stress from so many angles. When you regularly work out, you’re:
Ask your stressed out friends how they deal with feeling overwhelmed and they’ll likely list off the usual suspects: Sleep. Caffeine. Sugar. Alcohol. Exercise. Yoga. Some of these are clearly healthier options than others, but even the easy fixes take time—something that a lot of people who are stressed out tend to have in short supply. But there is a quick fix for the times when you have too much stress and too little energy: The simplest and most effective tool for instant energy, banishing stress, and ridding toxins from the body is breath!
That’s right. Breathing—the thing we do all day and night long without thinking about it—is responsible for a whole lot more than fuel our body with oxygen. The rate at which we breathe actually helps regulate our heart rate which in turn controls a bunch of other physical aspects. Breathe slow and fast and our body and brain will automatically shift to that fight or flight mode, the one that comes with stress and sends your blood pressure and shoulder tension soaring. Focus on slower, longer, and deeper breaths and you’ll help calm your body and mind, fighting stress in a matter of seconds while also filling your body with energizing oxygen, the lifeblood of a creativity, productivity, focus, and fire for whatever our life demands.
So how can you breathe better? (more…)
Yoga is the oldest known practice of self-development. Originating from the East, the practice has made its way to the West and become another popular way to get in shape. But with the numbers of people suffering from anxiety, depression and high blood pressure continually on the rise, we can’t forget about a huge benefit of a mind-body practices like yoga: stress release.
Yoga instructor and health coach Rosie Acosta, who teaches in Portland, OR, says that stress and anxiety affect a majority of her students, and that yoga often helps them better manage those feelings. “We think that yoga is for tuning things out when you’re stressed. But it’s not,” Acosta explains. “It’s about drawing that attention inward. Tuning in.”
Because our focus is almost always directed outward—to work, home, family—we neglect what happens internally, succumbing to stress. Yoga can reverse this trend.
Women who are fed up and burnt-out on their jobs are likely to eat more. This probably is not surprising to you, but it has been confirmed by research done in Finland and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. While most of us want to stop stress eating, we are aware that we do it. Whether you know it or not, there are some good reasons why we do it as well.
Job stress is enough to cause stress eating for most people. Burnout is when job stress becomes a chronic condition and can lead to fatigue, loss of interest or concern, and often mistakes. Burn-out applies to men as well as women; however, this specific study was done with a group of 230 employed women between the ages of 30 and 55. Interestingly, 22 percent of the participants demonstrated some degree of burnout.