Yes, it's a well known fact that chronic stress wreaks havoc on our bodies -- both emotionally and physically. That said, it's no fun to hear "you need to reduce your stress," as so many of my patients often tell me. They know they need to do it. We know too, and that's why I'm happy to provide some easy, actionable tips to help reduce stress -- to unplug and recharge.
Nothing says unplug like this mineral that actually works inside our body's cell to literally unplug our stress response. Magnesium is often forgotten (calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients get priority), but that's a big mistake. Many of us today are consuming significantly lower levels of magnesium than three to five decades ago. Why? Food processing has reduced its levels in our diet, non-organic farming practices reduce it in our soil and dietary patterns (such as low carb) see a decline in magnesium-rich foods.
Even supplementation -- meant to increase magnesium intake -- can be ineffective if it isn't a well-absorbed form. Ever suffered from headaches, muscle cramps (yes, premenstrual cramps too), constipation, post-airplane muscle tension, back pain, anxiety, insomnia etc.? I could go on, but you get the idea. Magnesium helps address every one of these symptoms -- making it quite a necessary and powerful tool. Eat your organic leafy greens, organic whole grains (best choice) and organic whole grain cereals (like Nature's Path*), and enjoy organic nuts and seeds (and their butters) to bring magnesium into your diet daily.
If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms, you may want to try magnesium supplementation. Use a citrate form for optimal absorption. My go-to product is Peter Gillham's Natural Calm* (I have years of patients writing in to tell me that this product has changed their life. Mine too -- I always travel with it to avoid the post-flight muscle tension that comes from the air pressure literally shutting down our insides).
2) Clean up your act (and your insides)!
How can your body recharge if its insides are as cluttered as your kid's playroom after a playdate, or as cluttered as your desk after you return from travel or even a vacation. Our bodies are real geniuses but if we clutter them up, even their power of recognition diminishes. And if they can't find what they are looking for or don't recognize it as useful, then the body works less efficiently. So rather than jump on the latest cleanse (and this doesn't mean I don't like many 'cleanses,' but even before you cleanse you should follow this plan) why not spend a few days, a week, a month, giving your body the basics and making sure it eliminates waste properly.
So if you've been turning to coffee drinks, juices, alcohol and energy drinks more often, turn back to the basics: water, herbal tea, lemonAID (water with lemon and stevia -- yum), SangriTEA (herbal tea with organic frozen fruit as the ice). And if you've been eating all ready-to-eat meals, bars and even salads, why not make some eating occasions for yourself?
I practice (and preach) a style of cooking called the IKEA style -- "some assembly required" -- which means that I may not make each ingredient from scratch but I get the best quality ingredients and assemble them for an eating occasion. Instead of buying any old protein bar, why not take an organic apple and organic nut butter with you for a crunchy midday treat (I like Justin's and Nuttzo and I love Artisana (raw and organic) single serve nut butters). And if you aren't getting rid of waste -- if your skin isn't as clear as you'd like, or you aren't having regular bowel movements -- check out tip one, or try a probiotic (like Align*) and even cultured vegetables and coconut water kefir for some digestive aid.
3) Turn it Off!
If you've been following Marissa and the HuffPost Living "Total Energy" Makeover with Ashley Koff RD, you know what I'm talking about. And if you took the Sleep Challenge you heard it there too. If not, it's simple. Our wonderful technology devices today are enabling us towards energy failure. Whether it's blackberry as alarm, Iphone as nightlight, cell phone as 'just in case ____ calls,' when we leave these devices on when we need (should) sleep we are directly interrupting the body's relaxation mode. I've heard all the excuses (okay, I've used many of them too) but the reality is that to recharge, we have to turn off so that we can turn back on.
The other place that these devices can interfere is when we are eating. Ever had a meal alone and answered emails the whole time? Sure, it's getting things done so efficiently -- but when asked what they ate or how they like it, many of my patients couldn't even recall. The body is the same way. If the body is distracted during a meal, then it does the primary job of digestion and absorption less well. So, that doesn't mean you can't answer a call, check the score, send texts or emails, but maybe try taking a pause before you eat. Taste your food and then pick-up where you left off, or even give yourself the whole meal technology-free. You might make a friend or even notice that the silence feels amazing. You deserve it!
*I work with these AKA brands, for more brands see www.ashleykoffapproved.com
Follow Ashley Koff on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@ashleykoff