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Break up with stress!

We all know that stress can negatively affect the body in many ways such as disrupting your thoughts, sleep patterns, digestive system, and heart rate, among other things. Chronic stress over time can lead to diseases ranging from high blood pressure to diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. If you've seemingly tried everything and are still having trouble losing weight, stress may be the culprit. When our bodies are stressed, we release the stress hormone cortisol which causes higher levels of insulin, causing your blood sugar levels to drop and making you crave sugary, fatty foods. This could hinder your health & fitness goals by causing you to hold on to excess weight. What do you say we put a stop to this and break up with stress once and for all!?!

Here are my top 5 tips to beat stress!

1. Be Present - When stress hits, we immediately feel a rush of adrenaline, our heart rates increase and our breathing becomes shallow. When you're in a stressful moment, take time to listen to your breathing, work to take deep "belly" breaths and relax. Begin to pay attention to your body, your surroundings. What do you feel? See? Smell? Simply bringing yourself back to the present moment can have a soothing affect.

2. Exercise - As if you needed another reason? Although exercise is kind of a stressor on the body, it helps to release endorphins and reduce stress hormones. You'll not only feel better mentally but physically, too! So get out and exercise!

3. Meditate - You don't have to be a buddhist monk to reap the plethora of benefits meditation offers. In fact, you don't even have to assume the lotus position, play soothing music, or chant "OM". You must simply breathe, sit still, and focus on your breath. When your mind begins to wander, gently bring your thoughts back to your breathing. You may struggle the first few times but it does become easier. This is why it's called a meditation "practice" - you become better at it the more you do it. There are many guided meditations online and several apps (I like "CALM") to help you get started. I recently became certified to teach meditation. The main reason for doing this was because I wanted to deepen my own practice. If you need help, be sure to reach out and we can do it together!

4. Practice Gratitude - I've probably said this a million times but .... what you focus on expands. Focusing on the things you are grateful for draws your attention away from the stressors of everyday life. Start a gratitude journal and begin by writing 5 things each day you are grateful for. Then sit back and watch them expand!

5. Avoid inflammatory foods - Inflammation causes physical stress on the body. If you're surrounded by stress in your day to day life, do yourself a favor and eliminate those foods that may be contributing to that stress. Cut out (or greatly reduce) caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and processed foods. Eat more whole foods such as fruits and veggies which are high in antioxidants and help reduce inflammation.

Breaking up is hard to do...Unless it's with stress! Our mental and physical health are intimately intertwined. If we can eliminate or reduce the stressors of everyday life, we can lead much happier, healthier lives. And remember, I'm always here to help, just send me an email and we'll get to work!

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