When our day-to-day life gets a little too much and stress strikes, it’s all too easy to find yourself caught up in the ‘Triple S’ cycle – stress, sugar, and sleep (or lack there of). The interconnection between these three elements of our daily life is vital but a few simple changes though can help you break this unforgiving cycle, regain your energy and stop feeling angry and anxious.
image via pinterest
Wellbeing expert Sharon Kolkka says stress can be the cause of broken sleep and a diet that gives us no energy. By looking at how we manage stress on a daily basis and how we react to stressful scenarios in our world, other elements of our health can be improved significantly.
When you feel stressed, you produce too much of the stress hormone, cortisol, which interferes with production of the sleep hormone, melatonin. When excess cortisol affects the production of melatonin, it impacts your ability to sleep, think clearly, remember key facts and make sound decisions.
“It’s the scenario of when you wake up in the early hours of the morning thinking: ‘I’ve got to get back to sleep. I have a really big day tomorrow,’ she says. “Often we let our worries feel out of proportion and focus on more of the negative than positive,” says Sharon. After a poor night’s sleep and too much worry, when you wake up you feel tired and may crave something (usually sugar or caffeine) that will give you energy.
Eating something sugary to boost your low blood sugar levels actually sends them sky high. Your body then releases insulin to normalise the levels, so they drop again and then you crave more of the sweet things.
“That can lead to mood swings and inconsistent energy levels. Using an artificial stimulus like sugar or caffeine to get the body functioning is a false economy because at some point something will break.”
At Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, Sharon says around two thirds of the guests say they do not sleep well every night.
“You get on to a treadmill of feeling stressed, not sleeping well, eating the wrong foods, then feeling more stressed and you start to forget what feeling normal is like.”
But by taking steps to reduce your stress, you may find you sleep better and don’t crave sugary foods so much. Even a short daily walk at a local park will give you some peace and quiet in the fresh air, and help you feel more relaxed.
Expert tips on breaking the stress cycle:
– Cultivate a healthy relationship with food. Eat food that is as close to what it is in nature – lots of wholefoods and vegetables, and avoid processed foods with refined sugars.
– Cut out caffeine until you are sleeping better at night. For some people one coffee might have little impact, but for others it has a huge effect.
– Begin to realise that the stress in your life is not what is happening on the outside, it is how your body reacts to external factors that counts.
– Try and live in the present moment more often. Do something that requires you to focus on anything other than your day-to-day life. Try meditation, yoga, tai chi, and deep breathing. Acupuncture is also a wonderful session to incorporate.