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Self Care Part 17: Keeping A Balanced Lifestyle

by Julia Bruce


Or do you knot know that your body is a temple
of the Holy Spirit within you whom you have from God?
You are not your own for you were bought with a price.
So glorify God in your body.
— 1 Corinthians 16:19-20


Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help lower stress while increasing your resistance to stress. While we have previously talked about the benefits of exercise, it also important to eat healthy, get enough sleep, and avoid foods that can raise stress so that we are better able to maintain a balanced lifestyle that promotes resilience to stress.

Eating healthy ensures your body is well nourished. The choices you make in your food and drink can either raise or lower your stress levels. Some foods bring comfort, which trigger hormones that will help you naturally fight stress, while other foods and drinks can actually raise stress.

Skipping meals and being hungry only increases stress. So be sure to begin your day with a healthy breakfast. Not only will it give you fuel to keep you energized, it will keep your mind clear so you can focus on your tasks rather than your belly. Plan your meals throughout the day with foods that will naturally fight stress. Avoid fatty, fast foods and bring healthy meals and snack from home to work. Smaller, more frequent meals can help keep sugar levels at proper level and keeps them from spiking and dropping.

Remember that garbage in equal garbage out. If you load up on caffeine and sugar, you might get a temporary boost, but these boosts tend to in with a crash in both mood and energy. Additionally, reducing caffeine and sugar will help you be able to relax at night, fall asleep easier, and sleep better throughout the night. Caffeine can raise both your heart rate and blood pressure, so if you already have healthy problems in this area, it’s best to avoid caffeine altogether.

On the other hand a warm cup of tea is calming to many people, especially herbal teas that include lavender and chamomile. Dark chocolate has both a chemical and emotional affect on lowering stress. Rich in antioxidants, small amounts of dark chocolate lowers levels of stress hormones in the body. Carbohydrates, such as pasta, sweet potatoes and whole grains,  increase serotonin, which is a mood booster plus stress reducer. As serotonin levels are increased, people under stress often experience improved concentration and are able to work better. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like avocados, can also boost concentration and improve mood. Fatty fish, such as tuna, halibut, salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, and lake trout, is also high in omega 3 and has the added benefit of improving heart health.

Sleep is as necessary to the human body as food, water, and air. When we sleep, our brains recharge while our bodies rest. Even a slight deficiency in sleep can affect memory, judgement, and mood. If we frequently do not get enough sleep, health problems increase, including high blood pressure. There is also a higher risk of obesity and driving can be impaired. When we do not get enough sleep or the quality of sleep decreases, stress will increase. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. If you are not getting at least seven hours of sleep per night, try setting an alarm to remind you to go to bed.

By eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and exercising, we can maintain a healthy lifestyle that will promote resilience to stress, keep our mind focused, and ensure better health over all.

This blog is part 17 in a series. Be sure to begin with part 1.

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