In a survey from 2018, 74% of the UK felt 'overwhelmed or unable to cope' at some point in the year.
Since then, we’ve had a global pandemic and most of our lives have changed considerably.
Stress could be triggered by feeling overwhelmed, anxiety, new challenges, worries or fear. The event that causes stress may change but the body receives the same signal – the need for cortisol.
In times of stress, our brain gives the signal to our adrenal glands to release cortisol because our nervous system is in a sympathetic, 'fight or flight', state.
Although cortisol is vital for life – it’s what gets us out of bed in the morning – long term demand on the body to produce cortisol can have a huge impact on our health.
Cortisol should fluctuate throughout the day, allowing the body to return to parasympathetic, 'rest and digest' mode, when there's no need to be in a reactive, stressed state.
However, in today's modern world, we can find ourselves spending more time in 'fight and flight' than 'rest and digest'. Our adrenals are therefore pumping out cortisol more frequently than they were designed for and there's very little downtime.
This can have a big impact on the body, de-railing some of its most important functions.
Here's how you can activate your 'rest and digest' mode and de-stress:
1. Make time for yourself
A bath, a book, exercise, walk, meditation, yoga, listening to music, cooking, baking, a chat with a friend, time in nature - the list goes on. 'Me time' is an opportunity for stress levels to decrease and endorphins to rise.
2. Nourish your body
Not only can a good diet help to counteract the impact of stress on the body, but lack of nutrients can add further stress and poor dietary choices can drive cortisol levels too.
3. Take more time away from technology
Although we’d all struggle to live without our phones, laptops and TV’s, the constant notifications and influx of information can be a trigger for stress.
4. Don’t forget to breathe
Sounds obvious but I’m talking about slow, controlled nasal breathing. It helps to move your nervous system from a state of stress to relaxation – from ‘fight or flight’ to ‘rest and digest’.
5. Identify your triggers and seek a resolution
Job, finances, family, pressure, FOMO, overwhelm, or big changes in your life. Whatever it is, identifying it is important. Then have conversations, find resources to support you and consider alternatives that will alleviate the stress without adding a different stressor. This is the most challenging task, but any improvement will reduce the weight on your shoulders.
If you want support, or how nutrition can aid your body throughout busy life periods, book a free consultation with me today.
Natalie Louise Burrows
Registered Nutritional Therapist