Mens Health Week 14-20 June

We wish all men lots of Health, Happiness and Love

“It is important for you to recognise that stress does not live anywhere but inside of you. Residing in a specific place in your body”

Joel is asking Anna M Guz (Naturopath Nutritionist, Herbalist, Scientist, Health Coach and Founder of The Well Man Project) how he can better cope with stress in his super busy and hectic modern life.  Joel is a 40 yo male who sometimes struggles to meet the competing pressures of work and home life.

Joel: “I have 3 young kids who I love and a business that I try and do the best for.  There are times where I don’t cope with the workload and pressure. My mental health is affected and my sleep is poor or interrupted.  When my stress levels are elevated for a few weeks, I notice my good coping strategies go out the window (like exercising) and my bad coping strategies come to the fore – like drinking alcohol and eating rubbish.

How can I better manage my stress without quitting my job and running off to live in the Bahamas?

When I am stressed, I get anxiety.

How can I better manage my mental health in periods of stress without resorting to medication?

My kids are very fussy eaters, and sometimes in the crazy, busy periods between work, school, and kids’ sport 4 nights a week it’s just easier to get sausage rolls or Maccas for dinner – which I will eat.  It’s only sometimes, but I feel like my diet is worse now than when I was a teenager.  How do I look after my own eating habits when I am stressed?”

Anna:  “You obviously have lots going on Joel which is very overwhelming to your body, mind and soul.  Stress drives your body biochemistry, neurotransmitters and hormones including cortisol, insulin, testosterone, GABA, serotonin, dopamine and more, out of balance leading to anxiety, food cravings, insomnia and drinking alcohol (which even further depletes your body of nutrients contributing to more stress, more anxiety and troubles with sleeping).

So…how can you better cope with stress, reduce anxiety, happily run the business and enjoy your family life and yourself?:

There are 5 steps to help you better cope with stress, energise your body and calm your mind.”

1. NUTRITION

Stressed or not stressed, energised or exhausted, anxious or calm – eating high quality nutrient rich foods is the critical factor in determining the system’s ability to withstand stress.  A person suffering from stress and exhaustion must support the biochemistry of the body by following some important dietary guidelines.

What to eat?

  • Include high-quality protein e.g. lean meat, fish, eggs, legumes, seeds and nuts with every meal. Under stress and exhausted people usually crave carbohydrate-rich foods (sweets and treats) at the expense of eating a balanced diet. Stress also induces protein breakdown from muscle tissues to sustain the fuel needed for the stress response – sufficient protein is therefore essential.
  • Eat a diverse range of whole foods – a higher variety of essential nutrients.
  • Regular, planned meals in a relaxed environment – skipping meals deprives the body of nutrients and eating on the run does not allow for optimal digestive juices to be secreted.
  • Increase potassium to sodium ratio – more green leafy vegetables, less processed foods.
  • Chew foods well.
  • Have healthy snacks in the car and at work: fruit, nuts, good quality protein bars.
  • Make cooking and eating a fun time with children and family. Kids like getting involved in cooking.
  • While busy and on the go: try to have a healthy smoothie with good quality protein, greens, oats, pumpkin seeds, berries, maca powder, flax meal, turmeric, brazil nuts, almonds, ACV, water, nut milk.
  • Prepare meals in advance.
  • DRINK clean WATER

What not to eat?

  • Restrict/eliminate intake of caffeine (coffee, energy drinks, strong black tea, coca-cola) and replace with herbal teas and water.
  • Restrict/eliminate intake of alcohol – don’t drink on weekdays and have a limited amount of alcohol on weekends.
  • Eliminate refined carbohydrates (cakes, muffins, etc) from the diet. More beneficial are whole grains which contain B vitamins for energy and fibre for slow glucose release – for better blood sugar regulation.

I recommend some individualised nutritional and herbal supplements to help my patients cope with stress and to support/restore the adrenal glands and nervous system during stressful times.  Specific nutrient requirements during stressful times:

  • Vit C – crucial in combating stress.
  • B vitamins and CoQ10 for energy production.
  • B5 can lower the secretion of cortisol in times of stress.
  • Magnesium – cofactor in energy production and glucose regulation, helps to reduce anxiety.
  • Antioxidants – Vit A, C, E, zinc, selenium and various phytochemicals.
  • SAMe (S-Adenosyl Methionine) – important for neurotransmitter synthesis such as adrenaline and serotonin.
  • Tyrosine, zinc, B6, glutamine – co-factors for neurotransmitter synthesis.
  • Essential fatty acids (EPO/DHA) – optimal functioning of the nervous system, beneficial for depression and inflammation.
  • Amino acids: GABA, glycine, inositol, glutamine, taurine, tryptophan helps to balance neurotransmitters, reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality and quantity.
  • Herbal teas for supporting adrenals/nervous system during stressful times – licorice, lemon balm, passionflower, skullcap, chamomile, basil.

NOTE: Vitamin supplements should not replace a balanced diet. Talk to your healthcare professional before taking any supplements.

2. SLEEP

Practice being in bed by 10pm every day for 21 days and try to sleep for 7- 8 hours.  Use a meditation app before bed e.g. CALM.  After 21 days you will find it has become a habit.  Practice sleep hygiene – reduce exposure to phone, tv, computer at least 30 mins before bedtime.

3. MOVEMENT IN NATURE

EXERCISE – do something that you enjoy e.g., walking, swimming.  Exercise with your children: bushwalking, playing on the grass, fishing, become a child again!  Fun and joy reduce stress and anxiety!

4. CONNECTION

Family and friends – don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Spend time with people who make you happy and enjoy their company.  Connect with like-minded people – healthy dads and kids.

Social connection and relationship building can be powerful tools for improving mental wellbeing.  Spending time with men (e.g. other dads) and doing men’s stuff (fishing, wood chopping, camping, etc) at least once a month helps to keep healthy testosterone levels and reduces stress levels significantly.  While man is under stress, oestrogen (female hormone) increases and testosterone (male hormone) drops, contributing to mental and emotional imbalance.

5. RELAXATION

Aim for at least 10 minutes a day of meditation/ breathing.  Try apps e.g. CALM, calming music, breathing exercises, mindfulness, gratitude, positive thinking – whatever is most suitable for you and you enjoy doing.  Stop twice a day and focus on breathing for one minute.  Have a cup of herbal tea in a relaxed environment.  Practice 4/4 abdominal breathing when kids are playing sports.

As you can see, there are many ways to cope with stress and improve mental wellbeing – you just need to take the first step towards your better health.

WANT TO FEEL MORE ENERGISED, CALMER, HAPPIER

And HANDLE STRESS BETTER?

Make an appointment today to see Anna today.

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