As a parent, you want to do everything you can for your family to protect them and yourself against the risk of Coronavirus.
In this challenging time, it can be stressful when your regular routine is thrown out of sync, you’ve got the kids home from school and there’s uncertainty in the air.
There are however, three key areas you can control – managing your emotions, your diet and sleep – in order to promote a more calm, relaxed household during coronavirus (COVID-19.)
Managing Your Emotions
When you’re stressed you might feel a lot of physical sensations like a sick feeling or butterflies in your tummy, or feeling angry or tense – those are all caused by both conscious and unconscious stress.
By identifying those stress triggers, of which the majority are unconscious thoughts, you can start to resolve stress for good. When I’m working with my coaching clients, we explore and look at the types of strategies that work for them and are easy to implement, like breath or mindset work.
One powerful strategy you could try yourself to manage your emotions is diaphragmatic breathing.
Focusing on your breath in this way is a powerful, evidence-based tool to lower stress and anxiety. Diaphragm breathing engages the part of your nervous system that rules digestion – the parasympathetic ‘rest and digest’ system – and helps to down regulate the ‘flight and fright’ stress response.
This in turn, improves how your body then utilizes the foods you eat to better support a healthy gut, which means a lower perception of stress and stronger immune system to fight COVID-19.
Other strategies to help you to feel more calm, relaxed and positive can take the form of meditation, deep breathing and carving out time to do things that you love as a family. Doing something fun can break the tension and help everyone feel more relaxed.
You can experiment with a practice or activity that resonates with you and your family to see which one works best.
The key is to turn these sorts of strategies into a regular habit so it integrates into your routine. Then you’ll be better equipped to handle challenging times and minimise or manage stress.
Resolving Stress with Food
Scientists have confirmed that what you eat is directly correlated to your mood and perception of stress.This is because of the gut-brain connection, a two-way highway between your nervous and endocrine system.
What you choose to eat on a day to day basis will influence your mood, which in turn has an effect on how calm, motivated and in control you feel.
It’s natural to crave sugary or fatty, high energy foods when you’re stressed or tired. Chocolate, sugary drinks, stimulating wine and high fat foods…and it’s hard to say no when you’re in a stressed state!
But eating sugar and processed foods, will signal to your brain that you’re stressed and in turn influence the exact emotions you’ll feel.
That’s why the food that you choose to eat is crucial not just for physical but mental health.
Sleep is one of the most influential factors when it comes to managing your stress levels.
When you’re not getting enough deep, restorative shut eye, your hormones get thrown out of whack, especially the stress hormone, cortisol.
Elevated cortisol levels impair the function of your nervous system so you’ll feel more agitated, snappy with the kids and have less willpower and motivation to keep consistent with other positive lifestyle factors that promote feeling calm and in control.
Getting into a positive sleep routine is an essential habit to reduce stress. Start by creating a sleep ritual and some boundaries around your bedtime.
This could be strategies around limiting blue lights or the kid’s electronics after dinner. It could also mean putting your phone on aeroplane mode just before bed until the next morning or until you’re ready the following day. This will also help lower your stress!
By creating a few simple, healthy habits and behaviours to support your physical and mental health, you’ll feel less stressed, calmer, more positive and more resilient.
Anna Block is an integrative Nutrition Practitioner, Coach and Founder of Anna Block International (annablock.com.au). Anna works with busy, exhausted Mums who want to supercharge their energy and be positive role models by taking control of their health.
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