While nutrition and exercise are at the top of the pyramid of getting healthy, I want to talk about the two that many of us neglect but are taking SUCH a toll on our health.
Too often I have people coming to me confused because they feel like they are doing everything right (eating well and exercising) but not seeing results and still feeling horrible. If I take a deeper look and see they truly are being consistent with nutritious food choices (in a calorie range that supports their goals) and getting adequate exercise, my next questions are going to be:
How well are you sleeping?
How would you rate your average stress levels?
I usually find out these people are super stressed out in their everyday life and sleep is also a nightly battle. Little do they know how much of an impact stress and sleep truly have on overall health & getting results.
In order for you to have natural energy, better hormone function, a strong immune system and proper metabolic function, you MUST start prioritizing 7-8 hours of sleep per night. It’s no wonder lack of sleep is so strongly linked to weight gain….
Less energy = less motivation to exercise
Hormone imbalance = impaired hunger/satiety cues & increased fat storage
Weak immune system = getting sick often and making proper nutrition & exercise even harder.
I’ll try and keep it quick & to the point here. Stress increases cortisol, which is actually a good thing SHORT TERM. It protects your body in many ways. However, chronic cortisol elevation leads to endless health issues such as fat gain/storage, high blood pressure, digestive problems, risk of heart disease & stroke, migraines, tension headaches, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, the list goes on and on. Basically anything ‘bad’ you can think of in regards to health can be triggered by chronic stress, which is why it’s absolutely vital to get it under control if you want to live a long, healthy life.
So what can you do to get better sleep and reduce your stress? Here are some tips:
Start a proactive night time routine, this can include:
No electronics past a certain time – I personally set an electronics curfew for myself at 9pm.
Make your to do list for the next day, the night before. For me this has been huge. Often times, people can’t get to sleep because their minds are racing at night with everything that needs to get done the next day. I put that ALL down on paper so I don’t have to think about it until the next day.
Find something you know relaxes you. For me it’s reading, I read every night before bed. This could be anything- a long hot shower, cup of tea, a puzzle, journaling just find SOMETHING.
Making sure you have a solid, nutrient dense meal in you before bed- going to bed hungry will lead to poor quality sleep. And no, eating before bed does not make you gain weight. Eating more calories than your body needs makes you gain weight.
Meditation – even just for 5 minutes can make a huge difference. I got started with meditation using the Headspace App.
Yoga flow/ stretching – again even just for 5 minutes!
Make sure your room is at a comfortable temperature (60-70 degrees F).
LIMIT CAFFEINE especially after 12pm.
Listen to relaxing music.
Long, deep breaths.
Exercise/movement during the day.
Essential oils – especially lavender. Diffusers are super affordable on Amazon.
Pretend that your morning alarm is about to go off and you’re allowed to turn it off : ) This does the trick for me any time I have a hard time falling asleep.
Sleep supplements (mentioned below).
So my best advice here is to figure out what stresses you out the most, then determine how you can reduce or pass off that stress. What I want you to do is make a list. So right now, while you’re reading this, grab a piece of paper and pen and start writing down everything that stresses you out day to day. Sometimes it’s easier to do this as the day goes on or at the end of the day so you have a more clear analysis of what triggers your stress. Regardless, once you have your list, circle the biggest ones and figure out what you can do to reduce those stressors. For example, maybe it’s getting the kids to school on time OR getting to work on time AFTER getting the kids to school. This is a situation where you may need to analyze your morning routine or set up a carpooling schedule with another parent in your neighborhood.
Of course some stress is unavoidable and it’s impossible to have 0 stressors in your life. However, there a lot of things we stress over that are not necessary and completely waste our energy. So what I recommend here, is to focus on what you CAN control. For those stressors you have no control over, you have 2 options. 1. eliminate them completely (this may even mean going separate ways with a significant other or friend) 2. remind yourself how stressing over this thing or person isn’t going to make the situation any better (in fact it makes it worse because you are compromising your health over it).
And sometimes it’s just little things we stress over that we just need to LET GO because again, it’s not doing us any favors. I’ve had plenty of stressors in my life that still occur frequently, however I’ve made the choice to not give them the power to stress me out. They are just ‘there’ and I leave it at that. Changing my perception & attitude has been a game changer here.
Lastly, finding outlets to release your stress is always helpful. Exercising & finding hobbies that bring you joy are my top two suggestions in this case.
Now, as I always like to preface this with…supplements are just that, to SUPPLEMENT your other efforts to becoming healthy. They are not magic pills. The foundations need to be there as well to see any sort of benefit here.
Magnesium: soothes & calms your nervous system, aids with sleep, anti inflammatory, helps with muscle recovery/cramping, can alleviate anxiety & heart palpitations.
Melatonin: natural sleep aid (I like the peppermint chewables from Trader Joe’s!)
Core-21: quality/restful sleep, stress reducer, anxiety alleviator
Adrenal Restore: natural vitamins & herbs that work to reduce cortisol and restore your natural energy
Bottom line: If you want to live a healthier life, you gotta find ways to chill the F out & get better sleep.
Hope this was helpful and as always, click that reply button if you have any questions or comments! I always love hearing from you <3