5 Tips to Help Manage Stress, Anxiety, or Depression
Stress, anxiety, and depression can take a toll on your body and your life. Whether your symptoms are mild or severe, they can prevent you from living your life to the fullest. When your body is in a constant state of stress it doesn't work efficiently. Stress impacts your digestion, your sleep, and your mood.
Certain systems in your body are designed to only work well when you are relaxed - hence the name "rest and digest". For example, you must be relaxed to allow your body the proper resources needed to digest well. If you are constantly in fight or flight, the resources these systems require to function properly are being used to deal with stress and anxiety instead.
Sometimes people don't realize that the body doesn't know the difference between good stress and bad stress. Just because you are doing something fun or exciting, such as planning a vacation or wedding, moving to a new home, or starting your new dream job, your body will still respond the same way to these positive stressors as it does to negative stressors. Don't be hard on yourself if you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed about something that feels like it should be fun. It's important to tune into your experiences and ensure you are offering yourself plenty of self-care and the opportunity to rest.
5 Tips to help manage your stress, depression, and anxiety
Eat Nutritious Meals
It is so important to eat nutritious meals full of fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamins and minerals. Stress can deplete the body of vitamins and minerals, specifically calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins B and E. When picking out fruits and vegetables try to buy a variety of colors so that you are getting all of the different vitamins and mineral. A colorful meal is ideal!
Eat warm cooked meals to support your digestive system and increase nutrient absorption. When your digestion is not working at its best, it struggles with cold raw foods. Often people will trade in a cooked meal at breakfast for a smoothie because they are short on time. Even if your smoothie is full of nutritious ingredients, it can be difficult for your body to digest it and absorb the nutrients. Pay attention to see if you notice bloating after your morning smoothie. If so, skip the smoothie and do something like instant pot oats instead. Breakfast can be cooking while you are getting ready.
Sleep Regular Hours
Sleep is vital to good health. While you are sleeping, your body is working hard to regenerate and heal itself and your liver is working to cleanse your body of toxins. Quality sleep benefits your immune system, energy, and your mood. Most of us notice that we tend to be cranky and irritable when we are not sleeping well. It's also more difficult to handle stressful situations when we are tired. Most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep a night. I know I personally need more sleep and if I don't get enough I notice a huge difference in my mood.
If insomnia is an issue be sure to go to bed at the same time every night and create a nighttime ritual that's a signal to your body that it's time to start winding down to sleep. Take a hot shower, drink night time tea, or read a book in bed. And, avoid alcohol. If you do have a drink, only have one drink and have it earlier in the evening instead of right before bed. Don't bring work into the bedroom with you. Leave laptops, cellphones, and iPads in another room so you're not tempted to check email or respond to notifications you receive. Make sure you are sleeping in a dark room or sleeping with an eye mask. Set a reminder about 15-30 minutes before bedtime so that you don't lose track of time and you know when you need to start getting ready for bed.
Magnesium works wonders for improving sleep and helping calm the body. It will help you relax and quiet your mind from overthinking and the constant worry a lot of us can experience. It is an antidepressant and helps improves your ability to control your stress.
It's pretty common to be deficient in magnesium so often patients notice improvement when taking a magnesium supplement. My favorite supplement to recommend is MyoCalm® Plus from Metagenics. Not only does it have magnesium in it but it also has valerian, passionflower, hops, and lemon balm which help with stress, anxiety, depression, and benefits sleep.
Movement is so important to get the blood flowing and energy moving! Exercise helps to reduce stress and ease anxiety along with boosting self-confidence and making your body feel strong. Many "feel good" hormones are released when you exercise. Often people notice how much worse their stress and anxiety is when they don't have the opportunity to work out and burn off some steam. Getting exercise outside in the sun will give you a boost of vitamin D along with making you feel more energetic. Even a quick walk at lunchtime can clear the mind and increase creativity.
In Chinese medicine stagnation is the root of so many illnesses. If your energy is not flowing, you will feel irritable, frustrated, and quick to anger. Instead of letting these emotions out on your loved ones or co-workers, burn them off while exercising. The exercise is going to make you feel less irritable and better able to manage stressful situations.
Acupuncture will help regulate your body, help stimulate the parasympathetic system, and calm the fight or flight your body is experiencing. One of the most noticeable benefits of acupuncture is the sense of relaxation people feel during and after a treatment. Most people enter a state of relaxation during their treatment where they are not fully asleep but they are not awake either. We call this an acu-nap! Patients walk out of the treatment feeling both relaxed and refreshed. They tend to sleep better the night of a treatment and handle stressful situations better.
An article published by Reuters summarizes a study that states acupuncture is as good as counseling for depression. "Researchers found one in three patients was no longer depressed after three months of acupuncture or counseling, compared to one in five who received neither treatment."
Acupuncture is calming, grounding, and relaxing. It releases endorphins, norepinephrine, and dopamine which improves your state of mind and calms your body. Acupuncture not only treats your symptoms but will get at the root of the problem for long-lasting results.
Auricular (ear) acupuncture is one of my favorites and so good for stress and anxiety. Plus you can massage your own ear or your child's ear to stimulate the points. Check out the video below for a mini auricular acupuncture treatment you can do on yourself.
Do you have health concerns & wonder if acupuncture is right for you?