Ditch Stress: Support Your Adrenals, Tastebuds & Outlook
December is the time of year when things become lit with stimulation: twinkling lights, decorations, schedules filled until the year-end, spreads of food on tables gathered by our friends and family, while planning our days with activities. While all the richness and culture intends to bring holiday cheer, it can also bring another unwanted guest - stress.
We all know that stress in excess is not our friend. But why? Our primary stress hormone, cortisol, increases rapidly in the presence of stressful situations. In some cases, this is a good thing, like needing to respond to an emergency. But for the average day, living with heightened cortisol levels can be more harmful than helpful. Excess cortisol levels are associated with high blood pressure, bone density changes, type 2 diabetes, slow healing injuries, inflammation in the body, and weight gain. Our body can become depleted of energy due to constantly living in 'fight-or-flight' mode, leaving us vulnerable to negative health side-effects, both physically and psychologically.
Let's dive a little deeper...
Cortisol is not all bad, and actually, it's really, really (really) important. It is essential to our blood glucose levels, regulates our metabolism, assists with memory formulation, the body's mineral balance, brain functioning, and neuromuscular system. Just like anything else, it's about finding the right balance of how much you need in your body versus elevated levels of cortisol.
So, what keeps us from staying at a regulated level of cortisol that is good for us?
Short answer: Life
We are humans of creation living in a time of stimulation, entrepreneurship, expansion, deadlines, twenty-four-seven technological devices, and high-pace demands. While some incredible things are happening, prices are being paid, and unfortunately, one of them is our health.
December is the last month before the new year, which often brings the not-so-wanted gift of more deadlines or tighter schedules due to 'working days', making the normal day-to-day even more demanding. That's why it's vitally important to adopt practices that support balanced cortisol levels, not only just during the holidays but every day of our lives.
How can we do this?
Practice Daily Mindfulness:
Example: Beginning a new habit of waking ten minutes earlier than usual to sit in silence, writing down five lines in our journal of Self thoughts, and taking five, deep conscious breaths. All beautiful habits begin with starting paired with consistently showing up. When our minds wander, finding something to circle our attention onto for an active mindful practice, such as the flavour of each sip from our warm mug in the morning.
- Sipping matcha slowly, and treating the tea as a teacher of mindful guidance. Asking: "What is this cup of matcha teaching me?". Exploring each sip by observing the taste, texture, and temperatures. This will allow you to circle back to the present moment: you sipping matcha. The slower enjoyment will compliment the experience, and enhance the enjoyability of 'zen', often associated with the beautiful ground tea leaf.
- Meditation will help us collect our thoughts, and help us navigate through our day with a more mindful presence.
- Taking conscious deep breaths to allow more blood flow throughout our body, naturally allowing more nutrients and neurotransmitters to be effectively distributed.
- Honouring rest when we are feeling tired, and giving ourselves permission to slow down.
Identifying and Reducing Our Stress:
Example: If we are feeling overwhelmed, it may be a cause of filling our schedule too tightly. Thus, our solution would be to start saying no to new projects, and allowing ourselves to slow down.
- Asking ourselves "how does my body, mind, heart, and soul feel?"
- Taking your answer into consideration to explore where the identified stressor may be coming from in your life.
- Write down solutions that are realistic, and can be implemented to reduce stress.
- Granting yourself time to lower the stress levels by staying committed, consistent, and open to the change.
Creating a Balanced Daily Diet:
Example: Challenge yourself to incorporate a new vegetable or fruit into your diet each week. Finding time a couple of times a week to prepare healthy meals like multiple servings of quinoa, marinated tofu, and roasted vegetables for meal prep containers. If you're more of a fresh cook, then opting to create a meal that has grounding nutrients for satiating purposes, and mental clarity.
- Incorporating more colour variety into your life by eating seasonally, and adopting a plant-focused mentality to your meals.
- Plating your food with sufficient protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates to support mood balancing hormones.
- Taking time to create meals that will nourish you throughout the week as part of your routine needed for self-maintenance (think of it as brushing your teeth!).
Mint Matcha Mocha:
- 1 tsp. Soar Organics Uji Ceremonial Matcha
- 1 tbsp. Dark Chocolate Chips
- 1/8 tps. Peppermint Extract
- 1-1/4 cup Oat Milk, Warmed
- 1/4 cup Boiling Water
- 1 tsp. Pure Maple Syrup
- Pinch of Sea Salt
- 1 scoop Collagen Powder (omit if vegan)
- Place your boiling water and dark chocolate chips into a high speed blender for one minute to allow the chips to soften.
- Add all the other remaining ingredients.
- Blitz on high for 30 seconds.
- Pour into your most treasured mug & sip slowly.
- No dark chocolate chips? Use 2 tsp. cacao powder (this will alter the texture due to no fat content)
- No oat milk? Use another dairy-free alternative, or water for a less creamy consistency
- Sweetness? Adjust sweetness to your liking. Use an alternative sweetener such as raw honey, agave nectar, or coconut sugar
- No collagen? Omit completely, or use 1 tbsp. protein powder for a creamy, frothy consistency (this will change the taste)