As I sit here with my cup of nettle tea, listening to the family of birds outside, peering out to my organic veggie garden (lovingly cared for by my hubby). I realize just how dramatically my life has changed. Never in a million years would I have thought it was possible to not be in the office at 10 am on a Wednesday, under the pump with my thousand items long things-to-do list, and instead be writing a blog post and recipe to send out to the universe. (Don’t get me wrong I still have a things-to-do list, it is often a mile long but now most of which are filled with new ideas for my business, blog, or studies). In this article, you will get tips to manage the stress and a recipe for a green smoothie.
You see, flashback two and a half years ago, and my former self would have thought it was inconceivable and not to mention silly to leave my corporate office job, risk abandoning my career, one which I had invested eight years of my life into and pack up my little life for a new adventure. I had given so much time and energy into doing it and what would people think?
Well, I took a leap of faith and listened to that inner intuition and did it. That isn’t to say it has all been plain sailing, certainly not, the road has been filled with many a kink or bump (o.k maybe a few mountains) but I have always had a deep passion for what I am doing (studying natural medicine and nutrition). That keeps me inspired. Yearning to learn more, be more, and ultimately give more.
Anyway, this year has been one of many firsts for myself, though I may no longer be climbing the corporate ladder, just like everyone else in this world I am still surrounded by stress each and every day. I guess what is changed is how I manage it. Now, my friends know I am a bit of a stress pot and I put huge expectations on myself, but at the very least I now know how to recognize the behavior and in some way mitigate some of the damaging effects of stress. I am not perfect and this is ever-evolving!
As we all approach the silly season, I am sure everyone one of us could do with a few tips on how best to manage stress, as well as look after our bodies. Here are my top tips (plus a green smoothie recipe to boot):
Tips To Manage Stress:
- Swap coffee for Teaching, this is a beautifully rich and spicy coffee substitute. I like to have it with coconut or almond milk, it smells like freshly brewed coffee but without the caffeine. Adding caffeine to your day when you already stressed, only goes on to heighten cortisol levels and for many anxieties too, making you less productive at work. Alternatively, see my morning tonic recipe which is a great anti-inflammatory, or tries dandelion tea which will help to support your liver over this time!
- B Vitamins, when we have stressed our stores of essential B vitamins are reduced. These are essential for our liver and help the body to better cope with workplace stress. (See journal article here). I use fermented B Vitamins by Premier Research lab, found at most health food shops.
- Establish a morning relaxation routine. Try doing some deep breathing, using your intercostal muscles (no it isn’t crazy hippie stuff) it is just breathing as we all supposed to. This helps to relax your nervous system and send messages to activate your parasympathetic nervous system so “rest and repair” can take place. Thus, decreasing your stress response. I like to do this before I jump out of bed, set your alarm clock five mins earlier, and just take 20 deep long inhales and exhales. (Try and do this on your lunch break and then again before bed).
- Be present, we get so busy with the tasks on hand that sometimes we forget to slow down and notice the little things. Whether it is your child’s smile, the beautiful sunshine, the smell of your dinner, or even a phone call from a friend. Be mindful and thankful for those little moments.
- Ok, I know it would be unrealistic for me to say abstain from eating all sweets and alcohol during the silly season but instead plan your indulgences. Make a resolve with yourself that you’re not going to drink Monday to Friday, and then enjoy a glass of bubbles (or two) at the work Xmas party. For Xmas day why not make a nutritious raw dessert, one which will not send your liver into overdrive from all the sugar. Try my pineapple cheesecake or see what is on offer from my friend Olivia at The Raw Kitchen.
- Take liver supporting herbs – Go and see a medicinal herbalist and explore taking liver supporting herbs during this stressful time. My favorites are St Mary’s thistle, Globe artichoke, Schisandra, and licorice for my adrenals. But it is imperative you talk to a health practitioner to check there are no contraindications for any medication you could be taking.
- Try a yoga class, there is a type of yoga to suit everyone. I am finding I need more gentle yoga at present, so Yin or restorative yoga is perfect, but equally, if you want to be actively relaxing then try a Bikram Yoga class at Bikram Yoga Britomart, which leaves you feeling a million bucks. (Maybe a little sweaty).
- Increase your greens, I think most of us could do with adding a little more vegetables to our life! The Christmas period can be a hard time of year, particularly when we are frantically trying to get things finished. I suggest to start your day off with a green smoothie, be sure to add some good fats and this will help to satiate appetite and control blood sugar levels. (Good additions, are also seeds, spirulina, barley grass, tahini, and some pea protein powder). See my recipe below.
Green Smoothie Recipe and Ingredients:
- – 2 kiwifruit, 1/2 avocado,
- 2 – 3 cups of organic spinach,
- a handful of parsley,
- the water of a fresh coconut ( I buy mine from Ceres), or 600ml of store-bought coconut water.
- Blend and enjoy this green smoothie, serves two.
I also encourage you, over the holiday period to give some thought to what your dreams are, let that little voice have some time in the sun, instead of being so quick to brush it off, listen to it, sit with it and contemplate it. As a good friend of mine once said, what are you so afraid of? If it doesn’t work out you just go back to what you did before, but if it does, well then you have gained infinitely more enrichment and fulfillment than you could ever possibly imagined.