Action plan for becoming more resilient to stress
There are several ways you can build greater resilience to stress and an integrated approach works best. Diet is key, as eating the right foods and boosting your intake of certain nutrients can help you dramatically increase your energy reserves, so you feel better equipped to deal with life’s challenges. Getting enough sleep is also important. Adopting a more positive mindset can also change the way you perceive stressful events.
Eat for stable energy
• Eat three meals a day and never skip breakfast - This helps you keep your blood sugar even. Blood sugar dips either from not eating or as a rebound after eating something too sweet or starchy. This triggers adrenalin release, and hence stress.
• Eat protein with every meal – For example, eggs, yoghurt, smoked salmon or kippers with your breakfast; and meat, fish, dairy foods, soya or grains combined with pulses for your lunch and supper. This will help to sustain your energy levels.
• Choose slow-releasing carbohydrates rather than refined foods - So opt for brown rice, wholegrain bread, quinoa and oatcakes (avoid processed and white equivalents).
• Reduce your dependence on stimulants – ie coffee, tea, colas, energy drinks and cigarettes. Rather than giving you energy, these deplete energy over time, and contribute to blood sugar imbalances.
• Snack pre-emptively – if you know you have an energy dip before lunch and around 4pm, have a snack mid-morning and again mid-afternoon. Avoid sugar-loaded treats and instead opt for energy-sustaining fresh fruit and nuts, an oatcake with some cheese, nut butter, paté or hummus, a natural yoghurt and berries, or a sugar-free protein bar.
Get a good night’s sleep
• Prioritise relaxing activities in the few hours before you go to bed, so you reduce your stress levels and get your body into a calm state ready for sleeping.
• Avoid alcohol before bed, and limit any caffeine intake after midday (or preferably avoid it completely).
• Aim to follow a soothing bedtime routine, such as having a warm bath with Epsom salts and lavender oil or listening to relaxing music.
• If you have difficulty sleeping, supplement 400mg of magnesium before bed.
• Follow a good sleep hygiene routine, ensuring your bedroom is quiet and dark and you are comfortable. Also turn off mobile phones and wi-fi connections at night.
Transform stress with a more positive mindset
• Find ways that work for you to deal more positively with stressors. It is impossible to remove all stressors from our lives, so it is important we learn to deal wth stress more proactively.
• Learn and use techniques to help manage stress. There are a number of coaching and emotional techniques that can help with our ability to manage our stress response. We advocate the scientifically-validated technique from the HeartMath® system, which can help you learn how to transform stress in the moment and reset your emotional baseline from negative to positive. So effective is the HeartMath® approach to transforming stress and building resilience that it is adopted by the US military, the NHS, Olympic athletes, police forces, universities and many businesses, as well as by thousands of individuals around the world. See more on this approach and where you can learn the technique on the Do you need help? page. For more information on HeartMath® please click here.
• Use tools that are available to help control and calm your stress levels. There are books, CDs and even apps that can aim to help you manage stress, de-stress and stay calm. We have suggested a few of these under the Do you need help? section.
How stressed are you? Take our simple test to get an idea of your stress levels.
- Is your energy less now than it used to be?
- Do you feel guilty when relaxing?
- Do you have a persistent need for achievement?
- Are you unclear about your goals in life?
- Are you especially competitive?
- Do you work harder than most people?
- Do you become angry easily?
- Do challenging situations trigger anxiety or panic?
- Do you find it hard to think straight under pressure?
- Do you often try to do two or three tasks simultaneously?
- Do you find it hard to relax or switch off?
- Do you avoid exercise because you feel too tired?
- Do you get impatient if people or situations hold you up?
- Do you have difficulty getting to sleep, or staying asleep?
- Do you wake up feeling tired?
If you answer yes to five or more, that’s a fair indication you’re highly stressed. The higher your score, the greater the negative impact of stress on your life.
If you would like further help, you can visit our not-for-profit clinic the Brain Bio Centre which specialises in optimum nutrition for mental health recovery. We have helped many people with stress, by working with them to create personalised nutritional programmes based upon their health history, symptoms and test results. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you, please click here.