Dr Cheyne Macintosh – De-Stress Wellness Centre –
https://www.destresswellness.co.za/ – firstname.lastname@example.org
Stress is an important factor in growth, health and longevity. For example building muscle – the constant, repetitive stress on the muscles and bones by lifting weights stimulates the body to build stronger muscles and bones.
The long-term exposure to excess stress, however, may put us at risk of serious conditions such as thyroid dysfunction, diabetes mellitus, gonadal dysfunction, obesity, adrenal insufficiency, depression, anxiety, lack of motivation, inability to focus, irritability as well as restlessness an insomnia (1).
We have all encountered different stressors over the year. These stressors have put us each in difficult places physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. In order to help us get through all these new and unexpected stressors in life, we need to build a stronger resilience and replenish ourselves more regularly. Stress, like everything in life, is within our ability to control and manage. Here are some tips to help you cope with and become more resilient to stress:
- Eat your fruits and vegetables: A systematic review on the intake of fruits and vegetables and mental health of adults found that the daily intake of fruit and vegetables had a positive influence on mental health, concluding that a daily serving of five fruits and vegetables may have a beneficial response to overall mental health (2).
- Become mindful: Practising mindfulness has shown to be a useful tool in alleviating stress, and improving cognitive functioning along with critical thinking in highly stressful situations whilst reducing the long-term effects of stress (3).
- Workout your stress: Yes, exercise is one of the most potent forms of coping with stress – not only does regular exercise reduce the levels of stress perceived but it also boosts your energy levels, sharpens your focus and helps you feel good (4) .
- Develop your specific routine: A daily routine can either create more stress in your life or help you alleviate it. Create a daily routine that helps you feel positive for your day ahead.
- Gratitude: The practice of daily gratitude has been shown to curb modern-day stress. People who expressed more gratitude were shown to have 23 % lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) compared to those who did not practice gratitude regularly (5) .
- Laugh more: Spending more time laughing has positive affects on the body and mind. Laughing produces feel-good neurotransmitters of dopamine, endorphins and serotonin as well as increases blood flow throughout the body by 20 % (6) .
By eating more fruits and vegetables, creating a daily routine involving regular exercise, practicing mindfulness and gratitude as well as laughing more, we can replenish ourselves and build up a resilience to stress. As we take time at the end of the year to recoup from all of our stress and in order to prepare us for the new year, it is these daily practices that will help us last through the next year with more ease and positivity.
Remember: “It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it.” – Lou Holtz
- Ranabir, S. and Reetu, K. (2011). Stress and hormones. Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. Medknow, 15(1), :p. 18. doi: 10.4103/2230-8210.77573.
- Głąbska, D., Guzek, D., Groele, B. and Gutkowska, K. (2020). Fruit and vegetable intake and mental health in adults: A systematic review. Nutrients. MDPI AG. doi: 10.3390/nu12010115.
- Botha, E., Gwin, T. and Purpora, C. (2015). The effectiveness of mindfulness based programs in reducing stress experienced by nurses in adult hospital settings: a systematic review of quantitative evidence protocol. JBI database of systematic reviews and implementation reports. JBI Database System Rev Implement Rep, :p. 21–29. doi: 10.11124/jbisrir-2015-2380.
- Josefsson, T., Lindwall, M. and Archer, T. (2014). Physical exercise intervention in depressive disorders: Meta-analysis and systematic review. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. Blackwell Munksgaard, :p. 259–272. doi: 10.1111/sms.12050.
- Emmons R. Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make you Happier. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 2007.
- Provine RR. Laughter: A Scientific Investigation. New York: Penguin Books; 2001.