Stressed? Here are a few signs a meditation instructor suggests you look for and what you can do about it.
If your stress level is somewhere between ‘2007 Britney’ and higher than normal you are not alone.
With one in five Australians reporting high levels of psychological distress, data shows young people and women are among the most affected by poor mental health.
Founder of virtual online meditation platform, Soul Alive, Luke McLeod is no stranger when it comes to stress and would like to share the range of tools he has at his disposal for managing it day to day.
Signs of stress:
Stress can manifest in many ways and affects us all from time to time. In fact, stress has not always been a bad thing and served an important evolutionary purpose. Think: fight or flight response.
Stress triggers the release of cortisol which keeps us sharp and alert. This can be helpful when we need to perform at work or when we are working out.
Too much stress however can have grave impacts on health. When cortisol is released into the bloodstream, it triggers a flood of glucose, providing the body with instant energy which goes to your large muscles.
This boost of energy gets our blood pumping harder and faster and in evolutionary terms was used to confront an immediate threat- like coming face to face with a great white shark or a mountain lion.
Whilst we don’t face these threats very much anymore (if ever!) having high cortisol for extended periods can be the demise of many aspects of general wellbeing.
Health Direct lists sleep disturbance, anxiety, muscle tension and a weakened immune system as some of the symptoms of stress, with the World Health Organisation classifying stress has been classified as the health epidemic of the 21st century.
What you can do about it:
Luke prioritises meditation and mindfulness, a healthy diet- including maintaining his gut health and having a sleep schedule to maintain stress in his life. Consider if these approaches might work for you.
Practiced by elite athletes and celebrities alike, meditation helps the body destress by lowering cortisol.
As one of Australia’s most popular thought leaders in mindfulness Luke added another notch to his belt recently by launching an online mindfulness meditation program called THRIVE.
This 4 week program is designed to teach participants the art of mindfulness via a mix of live guided meditations & workshops.
Luke affirms, “too often people wait until they are completely burnt out to care about their mental health and can it take months to get it back on track.” Like with exercise, Luke thinks mindfulness should be practiced every day.
When it comes to diet, Luke says, “when you’re stressed, your body becomes inflamed and eating inflammatory foods can exacerbate that.”
Fuel your body with whole foods. Think dark leafy greens and lean protein. As a general rule try to stick to foods that don’t come in a package.
Gut health also comes into play when it comes to diet. Luke drinks Nexba Kombucha because it has 500 million probiotics in every bottle and is a great alternative to alcohol.
Additionally, Prebiotic foods such as whole grains, bananas and onions promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria according to Healthline.
Create a sleeping schedule – and stick to it:
Developing a sleep routine maintains the timing of the body’s internal clock and can help you fall asleep and wake up more easily according to The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep.
To cultivate a relaxing evening routine consider:
- Putting away your phone by 8 pm
- Choosing reading over watching TV
- Sticking to un-caffeinated drinks after 3pm
- Taking a warm shower before bed