Supporting our bodies during stress

We all know how stressful life can be at times, with school work, exams, work deadlines, health and financial worries. Unfortunately, we are now faced with a new unprecedented stressor globally. We are having to manage a completely unknown situation and have raised concerns about our health, the health of our loved ones and managing to cope with day to day life, such as home schooling, shopping for food safely and how to cope with isolation and social distancing. This has increased stress for many people.

Sadly, we can’t take this stress away right now, but we can help our bodies cope better with the stressors we currently face.



Signs of not coping with stress may present in a number of ways. You may find you cannot relax properly and find you’re more irritable than normal.  You might also find that you can’t switch your mind off to relax or you may be smoking or drinking more than usual.  Physical signs such as headaches, or increased digestive problems and not sleeping well, may also present.  

Many of these signs are our bodies’ natural response to a stressor, known as ‘fight or flight’. It is a natural phenomenon that has kept us out of harm’s way for thousands of years. However, this stress response is not supposed to be called upon all the time and that’s where problems may arise. 

Top tips to help improve resilience and support our bodies during stress include:



SLEEP

Try to get enough sleep - during the night our bodies repair and heal, this is essential to ensure we can stay resilient to stress during the day.

RELAXATION

Try some relaxation techniques - listening to music, do an online yoga class, run a bath, or soak your feet in some warm water if you don’t have a bath.

DISTRACTION

Find a favourite book on the shelf you’ve not read in a while, or watch your favourite film, all of which can take your mind away from your stressors for a while.


EAT WELL

Eating well can be very beneficial right now, however you may have limited access to healthy fresh foods, so try to ensure you eat regular meals and not allow yourself to go hungry. This can be an important step in minimising the effects of stress.   

GUT HEALTH

We know that stress can negatively impact the bacteria that live in our gut. These little guys are fundamentally important to our health and imbalances in gut bacteria have been linked to digestive problems1 and low mood.2,3 By taking live bacteria supplements in either fermented food or in supplements, we can help support the community of bacteria that live in our guts.

POSITIVITY

Try to stay positive - this is a difficult one right now, but try turning the news off and listening to your favourite music instead, or pick up an old hobby you once loved and have forgotten due to your past busy life, now you have some free time.


BREATHE

Breathe properly - during stress we tend to take short shallow breaths. However, it’s important to be aware of our breath and ensure to breathe well using deep belly breaths to take in plenty of oxygen.

CONNECTIONS

Virtually chat to friends or family - staying in touch is incredibly important to our social wellbeing.



References:

1. Ishaque SM, Khosruzzaman SM, Ahmed DS, Sah MP. (2019) A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial of multi-strain probiotic formulation (Bio-Kult) in the management of diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome. BMC Gastroenterol;18:17

2. Mes saodi, M. et al. (2011) Assessment of psychotropic-like properties of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175 in rats and human subjects. Br. J. Nutr. 105, 755-764

3. Steenbergen, L. et al. (2015) A randomized controlled trial to test the effet of multispecies probiotics on cognitive reactivity to sad mood. Brian Behav. Immun. 48.258-264