Reframing Stress: 7 Psychological Tricks to Change How Stress Affects Your Health

Reframing Stress | 7 Psychological Tricks to Change How Stress Affects Your Health
Photo by Despina Design

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing:

the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 

Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Your mother warned you there’d be days like these. The minutes are ticking away until your big meeting starts, and here you are, stuck in traffic – again. Cars are moving at a snail’s pace, but the thoughts keep racing through your mind. “Hmm, did I lock the front door..? Ooh, I shouldn’t forget to pick up the dry-cleaning on my way home tonight. And we really must find the time to visit aunt Jessie in the hospital this weekend. Maybe after we’ve finished painting the nursery..? Argh, move already, I’m running late!”

You can feel the tension build up in your body. And the day has only just begun.

Life is a continuous string of events, from everyday challenges and important milestones to defining moments and daily disruptions. Although there are certain situations that everyone finds upsetting and taxing – losing a loved one, relationship troubles, unemployment or living with chronic illness – whether or not you get stressed following a negative event also depends on how you perceive that situation.

Stress is triggered by external life events and small daily hassles. When you experience more frequent and severe stressors in life, you have an increased risk of developing serious health problems like heart disease, obesity, digestive problems or anxiety. But this relation doesn’t explain why plenty of people thrive in high-pressure jobs or demanding circumstances. Why do some individuals get sick and depressed when something stressful happens while others do not?

Read more >Reframing Stress: 7 Psychological Tricks to Change How Stress Affects Your Health



What’s for Dinner? Two Templates for Stress-Free Meal Planning

 

Stress Free Meal Planing | Asian Tacos
Shiitake Mushroom and Lentil Asian Tacos from Sprouted Kitchen

 

It’s the eternal question for many home cooks: “What shall I make for dinner tonight?”

Maybe you find yourself browsing the supermarket aisles for inspiration, only to come home with the standard ingredients for your go-to pasta. But not only does eating spaghetti bolognese three days in a row get pretty boring, falling into a food rut also puts you at risk for an unbalanced diet. As I wrote in last week’s post, consuming a lot of different types of food helps you to get all the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients you desperately need to stay healthy.

But finding ways to ingest the entire range of necessary nutrients is probably not be the first thing on your mind when you have to come up with a meal that’s not only healthy, but also kid-friendly, quick to make after a tiring day at work and easy to digest before heading off to karate class.

For some strange reason, I actually enjoy planning a wholesome yet tasty weekly menu (but then again, I’m one of those crazy people who love making lists). Over many meal planning sessions, I found that using a personalised food template makes it a lot easier to come up with a week’s worth of delicious dinners that make up a balanced diet.

Today I’m sharing my secrets for stress-free meal planning, with two examples of varied and balanced weekly menus.

Read more >What’s for Dinner? Two Templates for Stress-Free Meal Planning



How to Effortlessly Eat a Balanced Diet | The Health Sessions

How to Effortlessly Eat a Balanced Diet

Do you mindlessly gobble down the same old boring breakfast before rushing out the door each morning? Or are you stressed out every night wondering what you should have for dinner without falling into a rut?

So many of us have virtually the same meals day after day. And even if you do make a conscious effort to mix up what you’re having for lunch, you still might not be eating a huge variety of foods. Most food products you find in the supermarket contain the same handful of ingredients – wheat, soy, corn and sugar.

But eating a lot of different foods is crucial to obtain all the nutrients you need for a healthy body and mind. A balanced diet ensures you get the entire range of vitamins and minerals, without consuming too much of one particular nutrient. Because the same rule applies to both fast food meals and uber-healthy foods: “The dose make the poison.”

Even eating big ass salads and huge amounts of steamed broccoli on a daily basis for many years could potentially lead to health problems, when small amounts of harmful compounds in dark leafy greens and cruciferous veggies build up over time. (You’d need to consume huge amounts of one vegetable over a long period of time before this would happen, but you get my point.)

Coming up with new recipes every day can be an overwhelming challenge. Luckily, there are two strategies to effortlessly eat a more balanced diet without stressing out:

Read more >How to Effortlessly Eat a Balanced Diet



21 Simple Habits to Kickstart a Healthier Lifestyle | The Health Sessions

21 Simple Habits to Kickstart a Healthier Lifestyle

You can feel this growing sense of excitement bubble up: It’s time for a fresh start, with a healthy new lifestyle to unleash your full potential. 

Inspired by all the success stories about former coach potatoes who ended up running a marathon in one year, you go all in. You work out at the gym five days a week and you start a juice fast before definitely cutting out all sugar, gluten, dairy, alcohol and caffeine all at once.

At first, the positive effects of exercising and healthy eating rub off on the rest of your life. You wake up early and refreshed and you have no trouble saying “no, thank you” to that piece of chocolate cake on birthday parties.

Until after two or three weeks, life suddenly throws you off course. After being up all night with your child, you’re desperate for another shot of caffeine, and you miss your yoga class because you’re so swamped with work. When you finally get home at night, you feel too tired to cook up a healthy bowl of quinoa with grilled vegetables.

Of course you’ll jump back in the saddle tomorrow, but you can’t shake that feeling that you’ve somehow failedIt starts to feel like a lot of effort to keep up this perfectly healthy lifestyle, and the next time life gets in the way of your resolutions, you automatically fall back into your old routine of crashing in front of the TV with a microwaved meal after a stressful day.

Does this story sound familiar?

A total transformation of your health surely sounds appealing, but too many drastic lifestyle changes at once usually isn’t the recipe for longterm success. Research shows we only have a limited amount of willpower each day. So when you want to improve your health, it’s much easier to focus on creating small, doable habits  –  those automated, healthy behaviours you do without thinking about it.

Start small: pick one tiny health habit at a time, until it’s a natural part of your routine.

To help you kickstart a healthier lifestyle without too much stress and effort, here’s a list of 21 simple habits that can make a big difference.

Read more >21 Simple Habits to Kickstart a Healthier Lifestyle



Lessons Learned from The One Month Tune-Up

 

One Month Tune Up
Source: Pinterest

Can singing regularly improve your breathing and heart health, mood and stress levels, as recent research suggests?

That was the basis of a little two-person experiment called The One Month Tune-Up, in which Kaila from In My Skinny Genes and myself  would sing every day during October to see how this habit would affect our health and happiness.

So, how did it go? Well, not exactly as we’d expected.

Read more >Lessons Learned from The One Month Tune-Up