Stress is a natural part of life. Although these days – in a world with long commutes, increasing work load, financial worries and countless family obligations – stress is a daily visitor. And if you have lived with diet restrictions (dairy, gluten, soy, vegan, vegetarian, paleo or anything else), heck – if you’ve considered switching up your diet – then at some point you have experienced or will experience stress and its twin sibling, anxiety.
Stress and anxiety go hand in hand with food. Most of us know; over eating, under eating and poor food choices are side effects of the two. But what surprised me, and continues to surprise me even years latter, is the amount of stress and anxiety I experience when living with food restrictions. I worry about being the “weird one” who doesn’t get invited to the party bc our diet is too difficult, about my boys eating something they shouldn’t bc someone told them “one time won’t hurt you” (even though it does!) or if the restaurant staff understand butter is consider dairy.
The reality is – stress and anxiety is a natural part of life. Learning to manage it is more important than ever – when living with food restrictions. Here are 6 ways I manage stress and anxiety, naturally.
- Exercise & Yoga: Both exercise releases powerful endorphin chemicals in the brain, which act like the body’s built-in painkillers and mood-lifters. Yoga reinforces the “mind-body connection,” improving how folks approach stress, feel about their bodies, helps with sleep and even controlling anxiety.
- Clean Eating: Remember as a kid saying “you are what you eat” (referring to the candy with funny names)? Well there is truth in that statement – “you are what you eat“. If you eat junk, your body and mind will react in a junky way, escalating the stress and anxiety. So focus on eating whole, natural, unprocessed foods including whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, millet), fresh fruits & veggies, healthy carbs (beans, chickpeas, lentils, oats, sweet potato, etc). If you eat animal protein – stick to grass fed, organic options and wild caught fish. At mealtime, fill half your plate with fresh veggies. Try to steam, bake, grill or eat raw foods. Avoid processed sugars or refined foods. Use only natural sweeteners (agave nectar, pure maple syrup, unsulfured molasses, raw honey, stevia). If this is completely new to you – take SMALL steps towards a clean eating diet… no need to increase stress while learning!! Ha!
- Vitamins & Herbal Supplements: Unfortunately – we simply can’t get all the nutrients from food our body needs to be balanced (not so junky). A good, whole food, multi-vitamin goes a long way. In addition – focus on B complex for energy, Omega-3s to reduce inflammation and stabilize mood (great for brain development and heart health too). Calcium & magnesium for relaxing muscles, relieving headaches and helping with sleep. Just like your food source – vitamin and supplement quality matters! My family trusts Shaklee supplements. The quality of testing and standards far exceeds that set by the US Pharmacopeia, ensuring purity and potency in every product.
- Opt Outside: Spending time outside in nature, naturaly reduces stress and lowers heart rates. Go on a hike, ride a bike or simply walk around the block. Just spend time outside!!
- Make Connections: Put down the devices and connect with the people around you. Do things you love with family and friends. Social connection is tied to longevity since it helps people feel like they’re a part of something larger than themselves. It helps give life perspective.
- Meditation & Daily Devotionals: Getting in touch with your spirituality not only helps manage stress and anxiety, but research has shown people who pray or mediate heal faster from illness and benefit from increased wellbeing.
Life is about the journey… not rushing to the destination.
So on your journey – know that you are not alone and just keep trying till you get it right!!