Daily commute & stress...How to regain balance

BY FITZ-GEORGE
RATTRAY

Sunday, May 19, 2019

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MUCH of our stress seems unavoidable, perhaps it's working conditions, our home environment or relationship issues, but at least one national level stressor — the daily commute — is definitely unavoidable.

Stress comes in two basic flavours, eustress or good stressors — such as amusement rides, scary movies, exercise, and travel — and distress or bad stressors, such as illness, financial issues, car problems, and your commute to work.

Eustress can improve immunity, cognitive brain function, reflex, instinct as well as build motivation and increase problem-solving, while distress is well known to play a role in illness, including weight gain.

The presence of bad stress leads to reduced levels of serotonin and dopamine, which may lead to depression. It can also result in elevated levels of cortisol — our “stress hormone”. In chronic stress cases, biological functions can be adversely affected by: Sleep; sexual function; energy; appetite; and mood.

Enter your daily commute

The problem with national level stressors is, governmental policies and social policies are required to alleviate their severity.

In nations where there is flagrant disregard for road laws and safety; insufficient vigilance; competitive instead of collaborative driving; and failing road markings and signage, your daily commute is bound to be stressful.

In the absence of national leadership protecting the well-being of the populace, you must take concerted efforts to preserve your own wellness.

Your body does not understand modern stress, and believes you must either be having a difficult hunt or fighting for your life. To counter that, it is attempting to replenish your caloric stores, and since your feel-good hormone (dopamine) levels are suppressed, your body will crave dopamine releasers and there enters the fatty, sugary foods and late-night binging.

Naturally, these comfort-eating patterns triggered by your stressful commute will quickly be engrained as health and life-threatening habits.

What can you do to protect your health?

In the face of chronic stress, such as commuting, regular healthy and relaxing habits and routines are your only hope to regain balance. Here are a few you should adopt:

Eat balanced meals

Make healthy lifestyle choices, especially when you are under stress. Proactively avoid compounding your problems with the wrong foods.

Exercise

Stress from exercise is something your body can understand, by releasing endorphins and improving your mood; just don't overdo it.

Laugh

Laughter releases endorphins, which are your brain's painkillers.

Listen to music

Calm and soothing music reduces cortisol and lowers blood pressure.

Positivity

Be positive.

Sleep

Plan your sleep, and sleep well.

Support

Get emotional support.

Drink tea

Have tea, regularly. Green tea and herbal teas have been shown to alleviate the effects of stress.

Meditate

Be mindful, even the use of soothing scents may be a great start.

Reduce caffeine

If you are distressed, understand that caffeine is a stimulant, which may increase your stress responses.

Write

Write down everything.

Journaling, recording, and focusing your thoughts have been used to help many people manage their reactions.

Deep breathing

This activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls your relaxation pathways.

The importance of actively regulating your stress-based biological reactions cannot be overstated, it is the difference between contentment and distress, health and illness, optimal and non-optimal fat levels, and even life or death.

You may not be able to choose the stressors in your life, but you can consciously choose your balances.

Fitz-George Rattray is the director of Intekai Academy, which is focused on helping people live a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and weight management. If you are interested in losing weight or living a healthier lifestyle, give them a call at 876-863-5923, or visit their website at intekaiacademy.org


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