Maybe you were overworked, worried, upset, disturbed, or distressed. All these conditions lead to unhealthy lifestyle habits causing further stress, becoming a vicious cycle. Let’s look at some stressful events in your professional life:
- facing a very tight deadline at work
- differences with co-workers or management
- feeling job insecurity due to some reason
- getting inadequate pay for your work
- frenetic working hours have stolen your personal time
and personal life:
- some awful events happened in the past
- heavy debt or not enough money to spend
- conflict with in-laws, family or friends
- incompatibility with spouse
According to research published in the Journal of Women’s Health, 2016, homemakers had higher anxiety and stress than working women. Therefore, it is obvious that stress is for everyone. The difference we can make is by changing our attitude towards stress and the way we deal with stress. Due to stress, you might make poor choices about what to eat or drink, relying on sugar and caffeine to get you through the day. Unfortunately, these food choices can create more stress in the long run, as well as other health problems.
So, what are these habits?
Here are some of the bad habits that people acquire when they are stressed:
Drinking too much coffee: Up to three to four cups of coffee per day providing 300-400 mg of caffeine is considered as safe for healthy adults. Therefore, it is important to keep control on your intake of caffeinated food and drinks. Consuming over 400 mg of caffeine can cause your heart rate to increase.
Eating the wrong foods: Due to the release of the stress hormone cortisol, stressed people tend to crave foods high in sugar, carbohydrates, fat and salt. Many start eating potato chips, ice cream or other junk foods after a stressful event. Moreover, while we are stressed we do emotional eating, where we eat not because we feel hungry but because it feels comfortable. Finally, our busy schedules have made us to eat out more frequently as we find it comfortable rather than cooking something at home. Unfortunately, eating out is mostly unhealthy.
Skipping meals: At the times when we struggle with multiple things at once, eating a healthy meal often seems the least important. We might start skipping breakfast while running late for office or college, or not eating lunch because of lack of time. With busy schedules, we often forget to even drink sufficient water.
Sitting in one place for hours at a time: Usually while working, we spend so many hours sitting at one place, staring at our laptop screen with no physical movement even after lunch! This sedentary habit is not healthy at all, resulting in reduced metabolic rates, joint pains, and many other lifestyle diseases in later years of your life.
Irregular sleeping hours: Modernization has changed our habits to the extent that many feel better studying or working in late night hours, causing you to sleep not enough or at irregular times.
Eventually, stress-induced bad habits have several harmful effects on your health. For example, they cause uncontrolled blood sugar levels, increased heart rate due to heavily caffeinated drinks, decreased immunity, achy joints and many other effects. In the long run, these erroneous habits may lead to diabetes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, arthritis and other serious health conditions.
So what can we do about this chronic lifestyle condition that is so prevalent in today’s times?
Here are some tips to improve the way we respond to stress to ensure wholesome health, peace of mind and longevity:
Meditation, yoga and other exercise: Exercise, yoga, meditation and other activities involving physical movement such as dance help prepare your brain to fight stress by increasing the secretion of serotonin. Serotonin, the neurotransmitter, is known to improve your mood by relaxing the nervous system. At Devang, we regularly meditate as a team, and Devang House regularly hosts events including yoga, meditation and dance to give our community an outlet for peace and productivity!
Regular sleep: “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” is not just an old school rhyme but a fact of life too! Failing to get the required sleep of approximately six to eight hours (recommended) or sleeping late till morning has negative effects on your health. Sound sleep plays an essential role in your life from maintaining cognitive health to completing physiological repairs. During sleep, the body secretes many important hormones that affect growth, regulate energy and control metabolic and endocrine functions.
Fruits and vegetables: To fight stress you need to prepare your body by providing nutrient- and antioxidant-rich food, such as fruits and vegetables. As we all are aware, fruits, nuts and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals necessary for important physiological functions in the body. Natural antioxidants boost immunity and help fight with free radicals arisen due to stress. Carrots, oranges, berries and other citrus fruits are known as stress busting foods due to their rich vitamin C content.
High-fiber and carbohydrate-rich foods: Scientists believe carbohydrates (complex, not refined, for example oats, ragi, brown rice and quinoa) cause the brain to produce more serotonin, a hormone that relaxes us (discussed earlier too). Consuming lots of fiber also makes us feel full for a longer period of time and helps prevent excess eating. Healthy food that can be prepared with minimum effort includes baked sweet potatoes, sautéed vegetables over brown rice or a plate of fresh fruits seasoned with rock salt and black pepper.
Herbs: Some herbs known to reduce the effect of stress and relax the brain and nervous system include Brahmi, Shankhpushpi, Mandookaparni, Jyotishmati, Ashwagandha, Jatamansi and many others. At Devang, we have made Pragyaa, the herbal formulation for people with stress to relax their brain and ensure good sleep. These natural herbs complement lifestyle changes to bring forth one’s natural state of health.
A healthy and disease-free future is in our hands, so long as we handle our stress and do not allow the stress to handle us (and our habits)! With a simple adjustment in the same areas of our life where we have formed harmful habits, we can bring forth the health that is already within us, as our inherent state.
The Journal of International Medical Research: 2007, Vol. 35, No. 1, 1-19. Available at: http://imr.sagepub.com/content/35/1/1.full.pdf.
Eilat-Adar, Sigal et al. “Nutritional Recommendations for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention.” Nutrients 5.9 (2013): 3646–3683. PMC. Web. 5 July 2016. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3798927/