Our worlds changed in the blink of an eye with the announcement of COVID-19 lockdown here in New Zealand. For most of us change can be hard but when it’s this extreme it can be a real challenge.
Stress resilience refers to how we respond to stress or challenging situations…it means that we can cope well to external and internal pressures, and that we return to “homeostasis” or baseline soon after the challenge has passed.
Emily Fletcher of Ziva Meditation calls this “adaptation energy; your ability to handle a demand or change of expectation and this energy can easily get depleted if we have an excess of demands on us or we perceive the demands are excessive.”

So what can we do to build up our “adaptation energy” or resilience to stress?
I believe it’s the daily practices, the small things we do every day that make all the difference. It’s times like this that we must stick to our daily practices that support our physical and mental health in order to help us survive and thrive so we can be the best version of ourselves so we can support our families and be a good role model for our kids too.

These my top 5 non-negotiable daily practices:

  1. Hydration

    This is key to our survival and many of us feel like we are in survival mode right now. One thing I’ve noticed since being at home is that I forget to drink as much water! I’ve now gone back to having my water bottle handy and making sure I keep tabs of how many bottles I’ve drunk. Hydration is key for our cells to function well. Dehydration may lead to cognitive impairment (including mood), changes in physical performance such as increased heart rate and effort to do things and of course extra load on the kidneys. On average aim at least for 2 litres a day for women and 2.5 litres a day for men however dependent on physical activity.
    Start your day with a big glass of water and set a reminder on your phone to drink another glass every 60- 90 minutes.
  2. Balancing your blood sugar

    Eating to support your blood sugar control is essential for reducing the stress in your life and it can help to ensure some boundaries around eating times and therefore avoid continual grazing all day while working or running around after kids at home (or both!).
    I realise in times of stress we often reach for the high sugar/carb treats to comfort us, however this just creates more stress and inflammation in the body and as a result can reduce your resilience. We also often feel guilty for eating these foods and beat ourselves up…but that is another blog post all together.
    Aim for slow releasing carbs such as oats, beans, legumes, brown rice. Always include a protein and a health fat to also lower the impact of natural sugars in the blood.
    Here’s a sample:
    Breakfast: Porridge (I whisk an egg through as it cooks for extra protein) with full-fat yogurt, nuts and seeds and blueberries
    Lunch: Chickpea salad with baby spinach, canned salmon or tuna and avocado (while they are still a reasonable price!)
    Dinner: Free-range chicken buddha bowl with brown rice, red cabbage, sprouts and spices and olive oil dressing.
    Even though you are home all day it’s still a good idea to do meal planning and prep so you are more likely to grab a healthy lunch or snack and there are more options for the kids too.
    If you need some inspiration or a meal plan let me know! Every new naturopathic client gets a complimentary 3 day meal plan!
    You can shop here for easy wholefood nutritious recipes
  3. Managing your mind

    For some people worrying is second nature, it’s a hard habit to break, however it’s an important one to break. The old saying “If you can change it; don’t worry about it…if you can’t change it; don’t worry about it” is a good standard to live by even if it is quite challenging in times such as this.
    Being aware of your thoughts is the first step to managing your mind, as is realizing that life is half awesome and half suckie! Choosing to have a positive mindset is key. Knowing that thoughts create feelings and so we can shift our emotions by monitoring our thoughts.
  4. Exercise / Deep breathing

    Daily exercise creates deep breathing which helps the tone of our vagus nerve and our body / mind connection. The vagus nerve is one of the main components of the parasympathetic nervous system (our rest, digest and restore system). The vagus nerve is a two-way message system sending messages from the gut to the brain and vice versa….so if you have been feeling stressed and your stomach is in knots…doing some deep breathing can help to reset the messages and calm your nervous system.
    Whether you are doing a gentle yoga practice or going for a run; both increase oxygen into the body and to the brain. Both can increase endorphins which are your feel good hormones and so by doing some exercise in the morning can really help to set you up for a good day.
  5. Routine

    So that last point leads me into my final non-negotiable: routine. Have a good morning routine has helped me and my son adjust to being together 24/7. He know's what to expect for the morning so he is calmer and listens to me (mostly!). Morning routines seem to be a valued behavior of very successful people…but what I’ve noticed is that they are all different, so you can choose what works for you and stick to it.
    This is what we have been doing for Monday to Friday:
    Get up and have a big glass of water
    Yoga or meditation (Meditation if my son is still sleeping, yoga if he has gotten up)
    Kids yoga some mornings too
    Breakfast /Supplements
    School work: my son is only 5 so we only do 30 minutes of structured work like handwriting, reading or numbers.
    Work for me for 45 to 60min while my son either has TV / iPad or plays.
    Outside exercise: basketball, bike riding, walks.
    Then after that it’s whatever we feel like doing for the day. I am available for online consults for limited hours and so I have a plan for him when I have client consults.
  6. BONUS TIP: Supplementation

    When we are stressed we burn through many of our vitamins and minerals that the body needs to function optimally. The main ones are magnesium and B vitamins…these are my daily non-negotiables and then I may add in some supportive “adaptogen” herbs such as Withania, Licorice, Rehmannia.
    By setting up some daily practices you are your family can non only survive but thrive this change and build up resilience going forward into the world. Stay safe, Be well xx
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Written by Naturopath and Gut Health Specialist - Jane McClurg

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