5 ways to adapt to times of stress.
We’ve all heard it before, that a life worth living often resides outside of our comfort zones. Thinking back, the greatest moments of growth in my life have been within times of great discomfort. However, as rejuvenating as throwing ourselves into times of life-altering discomfort and personal growth is, it is often accompanied by the ever feared, physiological and emotional six lettered word, STRESS.
Stress affects the whole body, but majorly effects three systems, namely our central nervous system, endocrine system (system of glands which secrete hormones), and immune system. Basically, in times of stress, the strain put on these systems can manifest into too many symptoms to name, but essentially, you’re left feeling depleted, sick and tired.
The more we become aware of the effects of stress on the body, the more stress is feared. However, it’s important to realize that stress itself is not what we must fear, an inability to internally handle stress properly, over time, is what leads to dis-ease and disease. Stress itself can actually be beneficial – especially in the sense of us putting ourselves in times of stress to accomplish something great, like pursuing a goal that warrants a great deal of time and energy and perseverance to accomplish, or physical stress put onto our bodies to become stronger.
We needn’t avoid stress itself, we must though learn better coping mechanisms to allow complementary stress in our lives while nourishing ourselves in the process to inhibit the negative effects of chronic untreated stress.
No. 01 | Mindfulness
If I could name one thing in which many of us probably all know we SHOULD be doing, but resist, it would be some kind of meditation practice. There are so many ways in which we can involve meditative practices into our daily routines – it needn’t be limited to sitting cross-legged on the floor chanting a mantra. I find a meditative practice in running and focusing on my breath, and I find a meditative practice in cooking with nice music playing the background. No matter which way you choose to find meditation, the benefit is in learning the ability to bring yourself into the present moment, fully and completely showing up for this moment, and not only in times of meditation, but in times of stress, allowing you to focus on the task at hand instead of the inefficient stressing about things outside of your current priority, or outside of your control.
I resisted meditation for the longest time, but what finally lead me down a more mindful path was through a neat little app called Headspace.
No. 02 | Exercise
Times of severe stress is a time in which it might feel as if you have zero capacity to include physical activity in your life. Yes, it’s time-consuming, but arguably, it increases your mental and emotional capacity to take on more within the remainder of the day. Exercise boosts dopamine, making you feel good and energized, and increases blood flow and nutrients to the body and the brain, enhancing brain function, and allowing your body to better cope with stress.
No. 03 | Good Diet
In times of stress, in order for your body systems to cope with the extra burden, more nutrients are utilized. If we are not providing our body with wholesome nourishing foods in the process, we can develop harmful deficiencies. Give your body the best chance at tackling additional exertion, ensure you are providing it with ample nutrient dense foods (lots of dark leafy greens!), and not adding on more stress with nutrient-poor foods (sugar, extracted oils, processed foods!)
No. 04 | Remember your “why”
We put ourselves through a lot in order to achieve what we set out on this planet to achieve. I’ve found, one of the greatest things to keep us sane through the mess of it all is to continue to remind ourselves why we are doing what we are doing. For me, I find purpose in persevering through this wild journey of entrepreneurship because I see a need for increased awareness of health and sustainability of our home planet. This mission keeps me grounded in times of increased stress because it is for a greater purpose outside of the actual work. Holding onto your “why” is holding onto your purpose, your light at the end of the tunnel, that thing that keeps you moving forward in times of drudgery.
No. 05 | Supplementing a healthy diet with Adaptogens
Adaptogens are substances in which help the body adapt to stress. Here, I’m careful to recommend superfood like substances, as I don’t believe any superfood can replace what a healthy diet will do for your body. However, they do have a place when a healthy diet has been established, and you’re looking to further optimize your health and mental functioning. Typically, I’ll reach for a simple black coffee, (routinely), and in times of need of increased mental function. However, as much as I advocate for the benefits of caffeine, in times of stress it can actually cause more anxiety, and overdoing stimulants to make up for the effects of stress on the body can lead to adrenal fatigue and exhaustion.
Adaptogens work differently in the body, nourishing it to prevent fatigue and other symptoms brought on by stress, rather than stimulating it, meaning no crash. Some of my favorite adaptogens include mushroom powder, licorice root, and maca. I’ve found myself, and many of my clients to be quite positively sensitive to the adaptogenic effect of these substances, almost immediately feeling their effects on the body; emotionally and physiologically.
NOTE: It’s best to rotate usage of adaptogenic substances, using them individually for no more than 2 weeks at a time, and in modest amounts.
We would do best to never allow the fear of stress and discomfort to hinder us from putting ourselves in situations that can allow us to step into our selves, and accomplish the things we audaciously set out to do in this world, but know that within the discomfort, you can find ease and groundedness within simple daily practices and through nourishing your well deserving body.
Adaptogenic Cinnamon Maca latte
- 1 cup to 1, 1/2 cups almond milk
- 1 tsp maca powder
- pinch of cinnamon
- pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- dash of vanilla
- dash of maple syrup – optional
- In a small sauce, bring the almond milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and to warm over medium-high heat (be sure to never allow it to boil!).
- Once the almond milk is warmed to your desired taste, remove from heat, and whisk in the maca and vanilla extract. Option to sweeten to taste with maple syrup. Enjoy hot!
NOTE: Maca does have the tendency to coagulate (thicken) as it sits. Enjoy shortly after heating to prevent this.