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Stress less: A calm, chilled, cosy December

A stressed woman sits with her head in her hands.

Arrrrrgggghhhhhh STRESSSSSSSS! A part of life. We might not be able to dodge stress but the good news is, we can build up our own personal strength and resilience to stress which allows us to choose our response and reactions.

Stress comes in all shapes and forms…it isn’t always just the busyness of life that is the cause. Here are some other causes, some may be obvious but others you may not have even considered before:

Personal stress

This could be financial worries, family disharmony, issues at work, long working hours, not enough time for oneself, disagreements/drama with friends, marital/relationship upset, grief, trauma…you know the kind of stress I mean. We all experience it one form or another

Poor nutrition

Lots of junk food, processed foods, takeaways, alcohol, sugar, lack of nutrients (fruit, vegetables, protein, healthy fat, fibre, micronutrients), over/under eating. Eating poorly can cause stress and inflammation for the body…and the double whammy is our nutrition can offer suffer as a result of stress. How often do we reach for the chocolate, wine etc when we have had a hard day?

Impaired body function

This could be an injury or illness. For example, chronic disease such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease etc can cause stress. Or it may be something like high cholesterol, hormone imbalances, acne, eczema, allergies or constipation that is causing stress. So often, clients have been living with health concerns for years and accept them as the ‘norm’ for them without considering the long-term impact of the stress on the body. Poor liver detoxification is another stressor that often goes overlooked too.

Environment

What in your environment could be causing stress on your body? It could be something you have never considered…such as radiation from your mobile phone, wifi box or microwave. Look to your household cleaning products….how many chemicals are you surrounded by? Do you come in to contact with toxins on a daily basis in your job? Consider pesticides and herbicides on the food that we eat. Or perhaps, at this time of year you have the log burner on? How about the poly aromatic hydrocarbons from that? Microplastics that leach into our food/water from plastic containers?

I know this all sounds intense and in all honestly a little scary (and stressful)! Let’s be honest, we cant avoid all the toxins we encounter in life, BUT, we can take steps to clean up our environment a little. Small changes make a big difference. Swap those plastic Tupperware for glass, swap that plastic water bottle for a stainless steel/glass one, review your cleaning products, turn the wifi off at night etc.

Short-term and long-term stress

Let me just make this clear, short-term stress is no bad thing. Our body has this purpose built-in alarm phase that allows us to react to danger appropriately, help boost performance, focus our attention and keep us awake and alert. It is chronic stress that can take its toll on our body and impact our health in the long-term. If the stressor is perceived too intense or stress lasts too long, physiologically, maladaptive responses can take place, leading ultimately to disease.

Long-term stress means we have a prolonged secretion of cortisol running around the body, increasing the risk of:

  • insulin resistance and Type II Diabetes
  • weight gain (especially around the middle)
  • reduced immunity 
  • impaired digestion and elimination (yes pooing) 
  • suppressed thyroid function
  • altered reproductive function (if your body is constantly under stress…it will not prioritise baby making)

Symptoms of stress

How might stress be manifesting in you? Look out for:

  • insomnia
  • fatigue
  • feeling low mood/depressed, irritable, quickly angered etc
  • headaches
  • digestive system issues – diarrhoea, bloating, constipation, acid reflux etc
  • recurrent infections
  • high blood pressure 
  • irregular or lack of menstruation (periods)
  • aching muscles, back pain, lower pain threshold

Managing stress

Stress can be a major obstacle to achieving our goals and living a healthy life. Fortunately, there are many ways to manage stress and reduce its impact on our lives. Here are some of my top tips for managing stress:

  1. Exercise regularly: Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and improve your overall health. It helps to release endorphins, which are natural mood-boosters, and can also help to improve your sleep.
  2. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness is a technique that involves focusing your attention on the present moment, without judgment. It can help you to feel more relaxed and less anxious. Journaling is also really great…see my previous blog posts for some guidance on where to start.
  3. Get to bed: Sleep is crucial for our physical and mental health. When we don’t get enough sleep, we can feel irritable, anxious, and stressed. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
  4. Connect with others: Social support is important for managing stress. Spend time with friends and family, join a support group, or volunteer in your community.
  5. Take breaks: It’s important to take breaks throughout the day to recharge your batteries. Take a walk, or listen to music to help you relax….even better if you can sing or hum along…this is a calming activity for the vagus nerve!
  6. Eat a balanced diet: include quality protein (e.g. grass-fed meat, wild salmon, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes), healthy fat (e.g. fish, extra virgin olive oil, olives, flaxseed, avocado) and complex carbohydrates (e.g. vegetables, quinoa, whole grains, sweet potato, sourdough). Ideally include all three macronutrients at each meal to stabilise blood sugar. Minimise foods/drinks that are pro-inflammatory (processed/junk foods, foods high in trans fats, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, artificial sweeteners etc). Aim for 8-10 portions of vegetables per day, rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. 
  7. Ensure a good potassium to sodium (salt) ratio: aiming for a ratio of greater than 5:1..chronic stress and anxiety are linked to lower levels of potassium. You can achieve this by increasing your veggie intake….especially with those dark leafy greens.
  8. Support your microbiome: with probiotic (e.g. kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha) and prebiotic (e.g. garlic, dandelion greens, chicory) rich foods. Stress can cause disruption to our microbiome.
  9. Grab a cup of herbal: chamomile, ashwagandha , lemon-balm and passionflower are all very soothing for the nervous system.
  10. Just breathe: Try some breathing exercises to let your vagus nerve know…..everything is going to be ok

These are just some super simple tips that you can implement to support your body in times of stress. but of course there is so much more that can be done to not only remove some of the stress from your life but also build your resilience and minimise the impact of stress on your health.

Get in touch

If you are feeling stressed, anxious or on the verge of burn-out, please know there is always a way to come back to you. If you would like to have a quick chat to discuss your stress levels and find out how you can support yourself, I am offering a complimentary discovery call to do just that. I know exactly how it feels to be that stressed, frazzled, manic person, trust me, I have been there!! I also know what it takes to return to calm….and I can help you to do the same.

If you would like to chat, fill in the form on my contact page and I will respond to you within 24 hours. I would love to hear from you.

May your December be a calm, cosy, stress-free vibe.

Nikki @ The Root Cause x

P.S here in an Instagram Reel where I talk about some of the different potential causes of your stress.

Picture of Nikki Spencer

Nikki Spencer

Hi, I’m Nikki Spencer and I am a qualified Health Coach with over 15 years of coaching experience. I am currently in my final year of training to become a Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist with the College of Naturopathic Medicine (CNM). I used naturopathic principles to heal by body and boost by inner and outer vitality….and i feel on top of the world! I am so excited to inspire, guide and support you to do the same!

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