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Sabotaging your Stress Recovery

When we are stressed out, our body has a lot to deal with. It doesn’t help that we often sabotage ourselves by adding extra stress to ourselves based on how we respond to the stress in our life.

When we think of stress, we often think of psychological stressors, maybe a nerve-wracking interview, a jam-packed schedule or some tension with a coworker. We often don’t give much credit to physiological stressors, which is when things internally are out of alignment or we are not giving our body what it needs to thrive. The way we react to psychological stressors in our life, can often cause more physiological stress in our body.

When we are stressed out, our positive habits tend to slip and we tend to embrace habits that might not be as nourishing. We often do this subconsciously. Our positive habits tend to require a conscious choice and often need time and effort, so when we are stressed and lacking both time and energy, these positive habits fall away. We tend to favour less nourishing habits because they are easy and tend to be more soothing and can help us cope with our stress. All of this is okay, as long as we are aware of the impact this might be having on our body and how it might be impacting our recovery from stress.

Watch out for these common culprits we tend to embrace when we are stressed out:

Choosing Convenience and Comfort Foods. Let me preface this by saying, there is a time and place for convenience foods and comfort foods. I think it can become more of any issue if it is an ongoing habit. We have the tendency to choose these options because they are easy, especially when we have a lot going on, and because they can be a coping mechanism to deal with the emotional rollercoaster of too much stress. The challenge is that these foods tend to be more processed and provide less nourishment. This can cause inflammation in our body and can lead to nutrient deficiencies, especially since our body requires so much more nutrients when we are stressed out and have a lot on the go. To help with this, try to:

  • Incorporate more whole foods (eg. fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains) into your snacks and meals as much as possible, even if you are eating them along with your convenience or comfort foods.

  • Find healthier convenience and comfort food recipes that are more nourishing than your current go-to’s.

  • Avoid inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy and refined sugar or any other foods that cause issues in your body personally.

  • Eat a variety of foods to ensure you are getting a variety of nutrients.

  • Eat meals and snacks regularly, every 2-4 hours to ensure you are nourishing your body consistently.

Sacrificing our Sleep. Our sleep is often sacrificed when we are stressed. Whether it is intentional because we are trying to squeeze more into our day or we are losing sleep because of our racing minds, we end up catching fewer Z’s. Not surprisingly, this lack of sleep is going to add to the stress on your body and make it harder for your body to recover. To help with this, try to:

  • Keep your wake-up time and bedtime as consistent as possible. Fight that urge to stay up late or get up extra early in an effort to get more done. When we sacrifice our sleep, we often unintentionally sacrifice our productivity the next day, so it is often better to get a good night's sleep and tackle the items the next day.

  • Create a relaxing evening routine, whether that’s a skin care routine, a relaxing bath, reading or whatever you find soothing, to relax your body and mind before bed.

  • Avoid stimulating activities before bed, like watching TV, scrolling on your phone or doing work.

Consuming too Much Caffeine. I get it, our coffee and tea keeps us going when we have a lot on the go. We might even feel like it's necessary if you are so exhausted from your stress-induced sleep-deprived state. But too much caffeine can create a vicious cycle, by impacting our sleep, causing too much unnatural stimulation in our body and to anxiety. To help with this, try to:

  • Be mindful of how much caffeine you are consuming.

  • Limit caffeine to the morning and early afternoon (before 2pm).

Relying on More Alcohol. I know, it seems like the perfect nice way to unwind at the end of a long, stressful day. Obviously this doesn’t nourish your body much, but can cause lots of inflammation in your body, put more stress on you organs, specially the detox ones, and impact your sleeep.To help with this, try to:

  • Be mindful how much alcohol you are consuming.

  • Limit alcohol, especially before bed.

  • Make a mock-tail to sit and sip at the end of the day that lets you relax and unwind.

Diving into Your Devices. If you are anything like me, you gravitate towards your devices when you are stressed out. I find I binge TV and scroll on my phone more and more when I am stressed. It is totally illogical because I spend the most time on these mindless activities, when I have the least amount of time. To help with this.

  • Be mindful how much you are using your technology

  • Set limits on the amount of time you spend on your devices and have designated time away from devices, especially in the evening.

Be mindful of these sneaky habits we slip into and see how you feel and how to recover much quicker from the stressors in your life.

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