3 Surprising Stress Toxins: and what you can do about them
Today we lead increasingly busy lives – we’re multitasking, shallow breathing, slaves to social media and constantly giving into convenience when it comes to food. This combination is a recipe for disaster when it comes to our health - and waistlines. Honestly Healthy Hero Laura Bond tells us more. The stress hormone cortisol stimulates appetite and leads to weight gain, is linked with depression anxiety, stops you sleeping, lowers your immunity and is known as ‘the ageing hormone.’ Adrenalin – the fight or flight hormone – can even make cancer resistant to treatment. The good news is, we can take steps to lower our exposure to stress in the same we limit our exposure to other environmental toxins - like cigarette smoke, endocrine disrupting chemicals and pesticides. Here are three surprising stress toxins and solutions to improve your daily wellbeing.
TOXIN 1: COFFEE
A morning espresso might give you an energy fix, but it can also accelerate anxiety and stress. Coffee stimulates the sympathetic nervous system – responsible for releasing the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin. It also robs your body of magnesium - a key-stress busting and alkalizing mineral - and blocks a sleep inducing chemical called adenosine thanks to the high caffeine content. Since caffeine can take up to 24 hours to clear the system (if you happen to be a slow metabolizer) the flat white you had post-lunch can leave you wide awake at 2am, heart-racing and freaking out how you’ll cope with work the following day.
SOLUTION: Swap your morning Americano for a Matcha Almond Milk Latte. Green tea has been shown to improve memory and boost the brain, lower cholesterol and the risk of stroke and cancer and prevent blood sugar spikes – whereas coffee will lead to blood sugar spikes. Recent findings suggest is can also treat acne. If you’re used to a frothy Cappuccino mid morning, then a regular cup of green tea might feel like deprivation, but if you pair matcha (137 times more antioxidants that regular green tea) with a cup of warm almond milk you’ll feel satisfied and less likely to be queuing at Starbucks the next day.
TOXIN 2: WATCHING, READING OR LISTENING TO THE NEWS What’s the biggest contributor to your day-to-day stress? When a group of 2,500 Americans were recently asked this question, this was one of the most common answers. It’s not surprising when you consider some of the recent headlines. We read about ISIS, Ebola, fracking, global warming and we feel stressed – and stuck. I believe part of the reason news coverage increases anxiety is because it makes us feel helpless. We reading about disaster, trauma, impending pandemics and we think ‘there’s nothing I can do about it.’ But rather than panic you could be proactive.
SOLUTION: Connect with your heart and channel the energy into something productive. If you're inspired to contribute, you could send a donation or sign a petition - whether it’s to save the bees or stop child labour. That will help reduce your personal stress and add to the greater good. You could also make boundaries around when you listen or read the news. You might find that postponing the paper until after 9am gives you a chance to start the day with a fresh, positive mindset – and allow your stomach to digest your breakfast, without the paralyzing effect of fear.
TOXIN 3: MULTITASKING Multitasking makes your brain smaller according to a study this year from the University of Sussex. Previous research has linked multi-tasking with a shortened attention span, depression and anxiety. Modern life - with its endless interruptions and worship of the ‘instant’ – can conspire against our most valiant attempts to focus and get things done, but there are some simple strategies you can do to regain control.
SOLUTION: Spend 60 seconds every 60 minutes looking away from your computer screen. You can use the time to either just zone out, say a mantra or focus on something positive – maybe the French Bulldog you saw in the street on your way to work. Your mind cannot hold a positive and negative thought at the same time – it’s impossible! So take advantage of this biological quirk to switch off your stress response and switch your mind to Channel Zen. See here for more articles from Laura Bond, author of Mum's Not Having Chemo and expert in the issue of cancer and prevention before cure.