What’s in Your Stress Management Toolbox? Three Tips to Survive Your Day
Let’s talk about stress, baby! In this post I’ll list why stress management is so important, and my top three tips for finding balance in your day and supporting your mental and physical health.
We have a slight denial situation when it comes to stress and its impact on our health; while 9 out of 10 Americans believe that stress can contribute to the development of a major illness such as cardiovascular disease, depression or obesity, only just over 30% of us believe that stress can actually impact our own personal health. We have a little bit of an invincibility complex here; “You might not be able to handle it, but I sure can.” No dear, you can’t… and here's why!
While job-related stress is common in our country, for those who work in the arts and entertainment industry, job-related stress can be a constant, unrelenting presence. Another warped reality fact: adults in Los Angeles consider a higher level of stress to be "healthy," more so than the rest of America. Many might develop the mental ability to stay in control when you’re running around the office, jumping from meeting to meeting, hustling on set, fitting in one (or twenty) more calls from your never-ending phone sheet, or navigating precarious diplomatic situations (you know what I mean…) and more. The thing is: your body doesn’t know that you aren’t running away from a lion. Thousands of generations ago, when humans spent their days hunting and gathering, the greatest moments of stress usually involved a large sharp-toothed animal, but even then, we weren’t being chased by leopards all day long. We took breaks, naps, ate berries and had sex. When your body stays in “I’m being chased by a lion” mode all day long, despite your best intellectual efforts, biology is taking its toll.
My Top Tips to Beat Biology at the Stress Game
1. Go for a walk
Walking can actually change your brain for the better: Research shows that people who start going for a walk even just 5 days a week showed an improvement in brain structures that help facilitate emotional and cognitive resilience. Time strapped?
- Schedule your walks. Put it in your calendar and protect it, even if it’s just 15 minutes, your body will thank you.
- Make those phone calls while going for a walk. In LA people place business calls from their cars all the time, who says you can’t have your assistant roll your calls while you walk the lot?
Meditation, even just a few minutes a day, can drastically change your life for the better. Research shows that mediation can measurably help manage anxiety, depression, and pain.
- Want to learn to meditate? Try the UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center’s plethora of resources. In addition to workshops and events, the center also has a free online starter guide here.
3. Eat Probiotic Rich Foods and Quality Fiber
The gut, the immune system and the brain are interconnected through our physiology, and what we eat can have a huge impact on our mental function. Emerging research is showing potential evidence that by including probiotics which support gut health in your diet, helps manage stress. Probiotic consumption promotes the releasing of “happy” neurotransmitters, and deceases stress hormones, which in turn helps counteract the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and potentially even other severe mental and developmental disorders. Enjoy eating lacto-fermented foods (read: fermented foods made without vinegar, sugar, or yeast; just a simple salt brine):
- Kefir (from dairy or coconut water)
- Other fermented vegetables (I like beets and carrots)
Thanks for taking the time to read today’s post. I hope you enjoyed these fun stress facts and tips. I want to hear from you! How are you handling stress in your life? What works and what doesn’t? Look for a post coming soon on my favorite brands of lacto-fermented foods, as well as posts about great places to go for a walk in Los Angeles.
Here’s to a healthy and happy rest of your week!
Stress in America. (2012) American Psychological Association. Retrieved from: http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2011/final-2011.pdf
McEwen, B. S. (2012). Brain on stress: how the social environment gets under the skin. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109 Suppl 2, 17180–17185. doi:10.1073/pnas.1121254109
Goyal M, Singh S, Sibinga ES, et al. (2014) Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-being: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med.174(3):357-368. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.13018.
Dinan, T.G., Stranton, C., Cryan, J.F. (2013) Psychobiotics: A Novel Class of Psychotropic. Biological Psychiatry. 74 (10):720-726. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2013.05.001