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stress busting 101

27th August 2018 by Jess

Save the day when the pressure gets too much and arm yourself against the long term effects of stress with these simple relaxation and self-care tips from our nutritionist.

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It might not seem like a health issue, but hitting that pause button every now and then and taking some time for yourself is one of the best ways you can take care of your long term health.

Jess, graze nutritionist

What is stress?

Get ready for some science. When you’re going through a stressful situation, your whole biochemistry changes. This is called the stress response or “fight or flight”, when the body stops prioritising processes like digestion and floods itself with adrenaline. This is a throwback response from the caveman days when stress meant danger.

So the good news is you’re totally ready to hunt a mammoth or protect your cave family from saber tooth tigers. The bad news is that with digestion no longer a priority, your body is not properly absorbing nutrients, when you’re actually needing more nutrients than usual!

So the order of the day is relaxation and better digestion. Here are some really easy techniques for fighting the effects of stress, so you can get back to being your awesome self.

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Give yourself an energy-boost with a healthy snack.

What if there was an easier way to keep the hanger at bay? When you're stressed, your body becomes desperate for a refuel and starts craving foods for an immediate pick-me-up. Having snacks in your bag or desk drawer - like our handy protein bites made with whole oats for a source of fibre and protein - means you've always got go-to foods at the ready.

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Support your nervous system

Reduce any added pressure on your nervous system by avoiding caffeine, alcohol and refined sugars. Instead, go for nuts, seeds and whole grains like oats. These are great sources of essential minerals magnesium, potassium and copper, and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B7 and C, which contribute to normal functioning of the nervous system.

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Protect cells from stress

To give your body the fighting power it needs to protect itself from stress on a cellular level, add foods with these essential nutrients to your diet:

  • Vitamin E (almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, fish, avocado)
  • Vitamin C (broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, leafy greens, tomatoes, citrus)
  • Vitamin B2 (lamb, milk, yoghurt, mushrooms, spinach, almonds)
  • Zinc (meat, shellfish, legumes, nuts, seeds, eggs)
  • Copper (dark chocolate, nuts, seeds, avocado, quinoa, lentils)
  • Manganese (oats, whole grains, nuts, leafy veg, tofu, sweet potato)
  • Selenium (brazil nuts, fish, pork, beef, poultry, eggs)

Vitamins E, C and B2, and essential minerals zinc, copper, manganese and selenium all contribute to the protection of cells from oxidative stress.

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Get some sleep

Good quality sleep is essential to help repair and restore the body during times of stress.

Doing everything you can to promote a good sleep cycle is so important during a period of stress, starting with communicating to your body that it's okay to relax.

Science tells us the best way to do this is through long, slow diaphragmatic breathing. A daily routine of taking 20 long, slow breaths into your belly, or pausing regularly to focus on your breath for a few minutes, can help make a difference to your body's ability to relax enough into a deep sleep.

Jess, graze nutritionist

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Improve digestion

Try this super simple tip to help your digestion! Add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to warm water and drink 10-20 minutes before eating - this can help boost stomach acid, which will in turn improve digestion.

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Make time for yourself

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when the last person you make time for is yourself. Booking some time out means making space to recharge and refocus for the next week – and give you more energy to care for those around you afterwards. Everybody gets ‘recharged’ in different ways - maybe you could go for a walk, write in a journal, spend time with friends or even just take some time out to enjoy a cup of tea - figure out what tops up your energy tank and schedule it into the diary.

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By Jess, graze nutritionist.

Our nutritionist extraordinaire, Jess trained at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition and is a registered practitioner with the British Association for Applied Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She's the creator of our health badges, to help you choose the snacks and boxes that are right for you. Check out everything from Jess on our blog, with recipes and tricks to help you keep making better choices, or go to her website at jessntom.com for even more.

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