Health

This diet will help you deal with stress and burnout

Eat, drink, and exercise your way to mental clarity...
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Ah, February. While many of us start each new year promising ourselves this one won’t be as stressful as the last, now is often the time when work, family commitments and life in general start to speed up again. 

If overwhelm is starting to rear its head, now may be time for some self-care. Holistic health expert and founder of Kamalaya Koh Samui, Karina Stewart, says that when we burn the candle at both ends, we can send our adrenal glands into overdrive – leading to an overproduction of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol.

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“For many of us, our adrenals are working overtime in a constant state of fight or flight response. This creates a tremendous amount of energy and produces a lot of cortisol, which over time contributes to poor sleep, fatigue, depression and health issues such as insulin resistance, inflammation and high blood pressure,” Stewart explains.

“Not to mention the chronic lack of high-quality restful sleep.”

While our natural stress response is largely unavoidable, the good news is that Stewart says there are practical ways we can protect, restore and reset against stress and burnout.  

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Zen in a picture… Thanks, Gisele! (Credit: Instagram)

Avoid coffee first up

Caffeine stimulates the body into fight or flight mode, so avoid it first up in the morning on an empty stomach. If you are experiencing burnout symptoms and poor sleep, avoid caffeine altogether and look for good-quality decaffeinated substitutes. Stewart recommends starting each day with warm water with a lime or lemon wedge to alkalinise the body, and ensure peristalsis and digestion are gently stimulated before foods are introduced. In the cooler season, ginger tea is a wonderful alternative. 

Salute the sun

Embracing the sunshine vitamin D and inhaling fresh air is the perfect early morning ritual. Exposure to sunlight within the first 30 minutes after waking is ideal and will reset our natural sleep cycle. Deep breathing is best done as early in the morning as possible when the energy of the body is moving through the lungs in the circadian rhythms. Walking, tai chi, yoga or qigong are ideal restorative exercises.

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Saluting the sun… (Credit: Instagram)

Make each beverage count

Teas have so many beneficial and calming properties. Stewart recommends trying these anti-inflammatory teas: chai for digestion, ginger for detoxification, immunity and anti-inflammation, and mulberry to rejuvenate the body’s hormone production, as well as soothe the mind and nervous tension. Before bed, sip on calming herbal tea like chamomile, rooibos or mulberry.

Add protein to every meal

Protein consumption from foods like chicken, lean red meat, fish, tofu, beans, eggs, and plain yoghurt has been linked to higher levels of dopamine and noradrenaline, which are brain chemicals that play a role in your mood, motivation and concentration. Incorporate 100 grams of lean animal or plant-based protein into at least one of your daily meals.

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Get your eight hours (Credit: Instagram)

Get your eight hours

A full eight to nine hours of sleep per night is essential to allow the body to heal, restore and rejuvenate, especially when stressed. The extra hour can give you essential added support to the organs of your body. A quick hot bath with essential aroma oils is Stewart’s tip for ensuring a good sleep.

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