As an entrepreneur, life is already a bit more stressful without difficult life circumstances. Throw in a family illness and a new move while building a business, a position I found myself in this past year, and it can all become a bit too overwhelming. Although things can be tough, an important realization you have to make is that stress is a manageable and temporary condition. By giving your body what it needs, you can ensure that your mind is at its optimal state to take on the world, your business or simply get through the day. Managing stress is a conscious choice and an important one in overcoming obstacles. As we all know, tough times don't last, but tough people do. As a Registered Dietitian, I reached into my professional toolkit to find ways to keep myself in tip-top shape, which has helped me keep my mind focused and helped steer my company into its best year yet.
Here are three easy tips to manage a healthier body for a healthier mind:
1. Drink Filtered Water Throughout the Day.
Your brain is strongly influenced by hydration status. Studies have shown that even mild dehydration (1-3% fluid loss) can impair many aspects of brain function such as mood, concentration and frequency of headaches. Water is also needed for the brain's production of hormones and neurotransmitters. When your brain is functioning in a well-hydrated status, you will be able to think faster, be more focused, and experience greater clarity. Drinking filtered water, in particular, is very important as many toxic residues are present in our water supply so an investment in a good filter can allow water to do what it's meant to do and cleanse your body and mind.
I have noticed that most of my clients simply do not drink enough water. My best advice to consume more water is to purchase a 2-liter BPA-free, or ideally glass bottle, and carry it with you wherever you go. Two liters is equivalent to 8 cups which is the customary amount to drink per day. Constantly carrying the water bottle is a reminder to take sips throughout the day as opposed to only at meals, which is actually not the best time to consume water. Water is best drank half hour before and half hour after meals to allow for proper digestion of the food.
2. Eat Pure Foods.
The chemicals your body produces during stress turn genes on and off that can affect your immune system, metabolism, detoxification and brain function. Fortunately, eating pure foods, can help manage these chemicals to lessen the effect of stress on the body. Certain foods can help boost the levels of serotonin in the brain which is a calming, feel-good brain chemical. These foods include fish, nuts and seeds, fruits, vegetables and sea vegetables. Other pure foods can cut the level of cortisol and adrenaline in the body, which are the stress chemicals that take their toll on the body over time. Cortisol cutting foods include leafy greens, beans, nuts and seeds, citrus fruits and microgreens. Because your body does not detoxify well under stress, pure foods minimize the toxic load on the body which can lead to a myriad of health conditions including high blood pressure and cancers. Eating a healthy diet of pure, minimally processed foods can help counter the impact of stress.
Unfortunately, pure foods are the opposite of the fast foods that are easily accessible to us, especially at times of stress. To ensure more pure foods are a part of your diet, planning ahead is key. Make your pantry a 'pure food' haven. Rather than purchasing sugary cookies, processed flour products and pints of ice cream, try healthier alternatives such as fruit, low sugar frozen yogurt, or whole-grain oatmeal raisin cookies. Also, pre-pick healthy go-to spots around work and home that you can count on leaving you feel good. By pre-picking your places and meals, you can be rest assured that you will not fall into a poor food choice trap when stressed and hungry.
3. Exercise Regularly
The physical benefits of exercise are well known, but exercise has a strong mental effect as it produces endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that can help reduce stress and make you feel good. In one study, researchers found that those who exercised regularly. were 25 percent less likely to develop anxiety disorders from the long-term stress. Other studies show that exercise is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving concentration and enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when you are trying to build a business and stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate.
It's good to note that exercise can be found anywhere. One of the best times to take the stairs instead of an elevator is right after your lunch (no gym required). Adding more movement aids in digestion and helps burn the circulating glucose in your body. Another great way to incorporate exercise is a mid- afternoon stretch with deep breathing. For 10 minutes, stretch your arms, legs and torso to increase oxygen in your body and thus more energy and brainpower.
Make good use of these three practical tips and you will be on your way to a healthy body and healthy mind so that you are able to let the stress pass and focus on a successful business and a happy life.
Jackie Arnett Elnahar RD, Esq. is Founder and CEO of TelaDietitian, the premier telehealth solution for medical nutrition therapy consultations via a HIPAA compliant video, chat and phone portal. Elnahar is also a certified registered dietitian and attorney. She is published in prominent journals, magazines, blogs, and newsletters. Jackie worked in corporate wellness at Bloomberg LP. She is a recent alumna of Springboard Enterprises and can be found at www.teladietitian.com.