You’re already aware that at Hello Days we are constantly researching natural strategies, so today I’d like to talk to you about alternative methods for combating stress: food, physical activity, meditation, heart coherence and EFT.
As you may already know, I’m qualified in neuronutrition, which is the study of the relation between the contents on your plate and the function of your brain.
An overreaction to stress aren’t just tales of education or a failure to resolve one’s Oedipus complex. They are a physical and chemical problem in our neurons, the cells in our brain. And dietary deficits and imbalances play a huge role.
What is the ideal anti-stress dish?
The ideal dish should contain the following ingredients at least a few times per week:
- Sufficient amounts of protein, particularly at the start of the day, to provide you with tryptophan.
- Iron, found in red meat, for good production of neurotransmitters.
- Iodine, found in seafood and seaweed, which is also used for good production of neurotransmitters.
- Vitamin B complexes, found in pulses and wholegrain cereals.
- Omega 3 fatty acids, occurring naturally in oily fish (particularly oily cold water fish), rapeseed, nut, linseed and camelina oils and in nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds and cashew nuts. Omega 3 acids promote good neuron function and neurotransmitter release.
- Lastly, magnesium, found in whole foods and unprocessed foods. Unfortunately, as I explained in my article entitled “Why do (almost) all of us lack magnesium in our diet?” (faire un lien), our current diet is lacking in magnesium and it is difficult to stock up on it, even with a perfect diet.
Physical activity has a triple anti-stress effect.
1. It makes us feel good about ourselves and increases our self-confidence.
2. It stimulates the brain’s production of endorphins (the happy hormones).
3. It promotes serotonin production.
As I explained in the article entitled Sleep and the role of neurotransmitters, there is an ongoing competition between the different amino acids in the blood-brain barrier. During exercise, the muscle consumes 3 amino acids: valine, leucine and isoleucine which decrease the blood concentration. This means we have a significantly higher trytophan concentration, which promotes its movement in the brain and transformation into serotonin.
Rooted in Buddhism and Taoism, mindfulness enables us to:
1. Get to know our own thoughts
2. Analyse our emotions
3. Get to know our own behaviour
4. Connect them all
Mindfulness allows us to escape from automatic pilot mode: a certain situation may give us a feeling that inspires thoughts leading us to a type of behaviour that will have consequences.
Heart coherence uses breathing as “a Trojan horse” to balance the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system:
The sympathetic nervous system:
- accelerates the heart beat
- triggers production of adrenaline (the stress hormone)
The parasympathetic nervous system:
- slows down the heart beat
- promotes relaxation and organ restoration
By using a deep and slow breathing pattern of 6 cycles per minute, you manage to modify your heart rate all by yourself:
- breathing in accelerates the heart beat
- breathing out slows down the heart beat
If you wish to practice this, there are a number of downloadable apps that can help you to gain control of your breathing as you follow a sinusoid (a smooth repetitive oscillation)
The aim is to learn to use this method when confronted with a stressful situation, and then implement it with ease when confronted with any demanding situation.
The letters EFT stand for: Emotional Freedom Technique.
EFT is not exactly a stress management tool; it is a technique that enables you to react to stressful situations: phobias and post-traumatic stress.
It’s a hybrid technique between acupuncture and autosuggestion which, according to its creator Gary Craig, “connects the body, spirit and emotions by using the body’s energy. “
Imagine a stressful situation (for example: a fear of spiders), then repeat a phrase like: “Even if I am afraid of spiders, I completely love and accept myself” and tap on the different tapping points located on the face, torso and hands.
As you repeat this action, the situation triggering the stress is perceived as less and less stressful.
- Dr Frédéric Rosenfeld: Méditer c’est se soigner
- Dr David O’Hare: Heart Coherence 365, a guide to long lasting heart coherence
- Gary Craig: emofree.org