Responding to stress
What do holidays, final projects, papers, and exams all have in common? For many, STRESS! Our adrenals also take a hit with late hours, less time to eat well, and trying to keep everything on task to meet those looming deadlines. While we may accomplish what’s in front of us, we often pay for it in spades during and after the fact.
How can we change this?
There are times in life when subscribing to life balance isn’t realistic. This may be one of those times. But, we can mitigate the imbalance and its impact of stress with a little conscious planning and effort that will pay for itself with time, clarity, and productivity. What might this look like?
The biggest key to making space and time for what will fuel us is time management. Time management is simply the scheduling of chipping away at a plan, but it doesn’t always come easy to people, so here are a few tips to get started.
- Making a list of what needs to be done and their respective due dates.
- Applying all tasks, project, phases, etc. to your calendar noting when you will work on them. Keep it realistic for your work style. Show up for the work to be done.
- Adding in some flex time to accommodate for the unexpected. Life happens and papers and projects don’t always go as planned. Flex time is a critical preventative measure for stress that can arise from the unexpected.
- Adding in some pause time to recharge, even if it’s just 15–30 minutes. Rest your brain, take a walk, do some deep breathing, stretch, partake in a relaxing and fun activity, or power up with a short nap.
- Scheduling in some social time even if it equates to studying with others. Socializing can be revitalizing. Studying with others can make information more salient by sharing perspectives.
- Scheduling in sleep and sticking to it. Know what your body needs to perform well and honor it.
Supporting adrenals with food and sleep
Adrenal fatigue can create a host of issues for our health. We run the risk of impacting the well-being of our adrenals if we keep putting demands on our body without replenishing it. Food and sleep are key elements in supplying the adrenals with what they need to thrive. Below are some food and sleep guidelines for adrenal support, which can serve us well while under stress, as well as every day.
- Diminish intake of caffeine, sugar, processed foods, and white flour carbs. These are often our go to when under stress, but in truth they don’t serve us well.
- Include healthy fats such as, coconut, olives, avocado, and nuts.
- Eat powerhouse omegas with fatty fish such as wild-caught salmon and sardines. These are also a great brain booster foods.
- Eat some protein, such as chicken, turkey, eggs, or a vegetarian/vegan equivalent.
- Consume cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, or kale. Include protein at breakfast. Start off your day with eggs, chicken or turkey sausage, or a vegetarian/vegan option.
- Maintaining consistent sleep and waking hours. Adrenals respond well to an even rhythm.
- Keeping your waking time the same, even if you go to bed later than scheduled.
Mindfulness, meditation, and yoga
Reigning in stress with practices such as mindfulness, meditation, and yoga can be highly beneficial for the body. These practices have the capacity to physically and mentally change how we respond and feel about the stress triggers in our path. Consider taking time to engage in the following resources right from your computer or phone, which you can also access from the SEVEN spiritual page, as well as other resources:
- Guided relaxation audio
- Free mindfulness program and guided meditations from the University of Massachusetts Medical School
- Yoga stretches from your desk
Finally, try to keep things in perspective. Maintaining positive thoughts and accepting what we need to do is significant in how we respond to our workload or any given situation. Resistance equals stress. Instead, embracing what’s in front of us is an easier path. Remember, this too shall pass, and winter break is your medal at the finish line!
Support available from Health Promotion and Wellness
Health Promotion and Wellness is here to help! From free nutrition consults and ergonomic assessments to the SEVEN wellness incentive program, we have a variety of programs and services to help support your goals. Health Promotion and Wellness provides wellness information, services, events, and programming to students, faculty, staff, and the Illinois State community. People living, learning, and working in a healthy environment are more likely to reach their highest potential.