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Mental health seems to have taken a major hit over the past few months. No great revelation there! Trying to work a full time job, take care of our children and keep on top of other responsibilities, is mission impossible!
One of the main causes of this stress for people working from home, is the workload and pressure to keep up or work more, for fear of becoming unemployed. This, on top of the demands of home life... kids, schooling...... It's no wonder that people are at risk of "overload".
This "overload" will show itself as anxiety, stress, depression, low energy, quick temper , loss of appetite , over eating,tears,sleepless nights, alcohol.... all ways of trying to manage this pressure but to no resolution. The "not knowing" if that job is safe will be a major factor in a number of households, the world over.
STEP ONE ~ EXERCISE
Great way to release ... simply punch the stuffing out... I mean Tension !
If your gym is has not reopened, order a pair of boxing gloves, pads and a punching bag online. Or, go ahead without the equipment with shadow boxing, press-ups and skipping.
There are tons of beginners classes on youtube, which is ideal whilst at home. Get the kids involved or take the time for yourself whilst they are entertained.
Hold on, i'm not talking about re-enacting swan lake or anything here, just a few moves to get the blood pumping. A wonderful workout is by "the New york city ballet" and is one I have done myself. The bonus is ( well, if you love sex and the city) Sarah Jessica Parker introduces the video. It is a real feel good workout. Be kind to yourself, give it a go and you may suprise yourself.
Hatha is one of the most common forms of yoga. It's great for beginners as it has a slow pace and easier movements. This practice is also very effective for stress management. The practice involves breath, body and mind and usually last for around forty five minutes. Three areas of focus are poses, breathing and meditation.
STEP TWO ~ FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD
The foods we eat, directly affect the brain and as such, affect our mood. Knowing this fact doesn't prevent "poor" eating habits because there is a whole lot more involved with food, than the nutritional content.
RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD
Like myself, I used food as a form of "escape," by self starvation. This has a great impact on the brain and after a long period of malnutrition, the brain feels a false sense of euphoria. Similar effects on the brain can occur with binge or comfort eating too. We know that the process is not a healthy one but we do it anyway, for "temporary relief ", sort of a comfort blanket, if you will.
Then there is just, mindless eating, maybe the individual is unaware, just how powerful food can be in affecting how we feel. They chomp away on whatever they fancy, which, if anxious or depressed can agitate the problem.
Not getting too deep in the the psychology of "why" we eat what we eat, lets become aware that food affects the brain and figure out what works best for you, in terms of making some realistic changes or additions to your diet, that is, if you want to ease your symptoms.
FEEL GOOD FOODS
WATER ~ Can improve your memory and your mood. It can also reduce sugar cravings, aid weight management and reduce headaches and migraines.
FISH ~ A 2013 study found that fish oil can reduce cortisol and adrenaline levels associated with stress. try these delicious bad boys.... salmon, tuna, sardines. If you dislike fish there are other options such as, chia seeds, walnuts and seaweed, to name a few. In addition, there are also studies indicating that an omega 3 fish oil supplement may also boots your mood. Try them both together ( always consult your dr before any "drastic changes") and gain the benefits.
DARK CHOCOLATE ~ studies show that dark choc, actually works on the brain's chemicals to improve mood. The brain is stimulated and releases the same chemical associated with laughter and exercise. I mean, it doesn't get better than that!
A few more ideas to tickle your fancy are bananas. fermented foods, oats, berries, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils.
FOODS TO AVOID
CAFFEINE ~ Coffee,tea and some soft drinks, can agitate the effects of stress and anxiety in the body. Caffeine is a stimulant that releases cortisol and with stress already causing this in the body, caffeine will produce even more!
SUGAR ~ Consuming sugary snacks and processed foods are not good for your best at the best of times. We crave sugary foods because they release endorphins in the brain but this is short lived. Like a great high, there comes the low. When the effects of the sugar rush have worn off, the crash hits which can negatively impact your mood. Do this several times throughout the day and you are on a roller coaster of ups and downs.
ALCOHOL ~ I know, this is a tough one for me too. Most people enjoy a drink but those who are stressed out or anxious , just as with the sugar rush, alcohol is very similar. We reach for it to "feel better", but again, the after effects on the brain can make your stress even worse.
STEP THREE - LAUGHTER
The last thing you feel like doing when I feel overwhelmed with stress, is laughing, right! All the more reason to become aware of the benefits so you can self induce in times of utter crap.
Laughter decreases stress hormones in the body, making the immune system stronger. A good "belly laugh" will relax the muscles for up to forty five minutes. So get your laughter on.
OK THIS WILL MAKE YOU LAUGH.... THE DISADVANTAGES OF LAUGHTER....
Incontinence , hernia, dislocated jaw and the ingestion of foreign objects. So laughter can be a risky business, so do please be mindful on whom you are spluttering all over .
Offer someone a seat and at the very last minute , pull it away and watch them crash down like a bag of spanners.... NO NO IM JOKING!!!
Ok serious talk.... Watch a funny movie, funny youtube videos, your fave comedian , chat with someone who makes you laugh or just make yourself laugh or smile, even if you don't want to because the simple act will tell your brain that you are feeling good. So, sort of fake it , till you make it. Give it a try. The only thing you have to lose is that frown.
No matter what challenges we face, it is ALWAYS possible to take action. Taking actions put you in control and that in itself can ease stress in our lives.
If you are struggling, the quantity of resources available are vast. Having two little ones and a history of eating disorders and depression, I know from personal experience, just how it feels to be stuck and suffering. It has helped me to introduce small changes , I still have "off" days, the difference is, I no longer judge myself too harshly. Be kind to yourself, it really matters.