Top Nutrition and Lifestyle Tips to Overcome Overwhelm
In our fast-paced modern world, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the constant demands and pressures of daily life. Whether it's work-related stress, personal responsibilities, or a combination of factors, it's crucial to prioritise self-care to maintain a healthy balance.
The word self-care gets thrown around rather flippantly in my opinion, often suggesting that having a hot bath is going to cure all your woes. Whilst I'm not one to shun the option of a hot soak, true self-care in my eyes is made up of the little daily practices that we engrain into our lives that add up to truly prioritising our wellbeing. Here I explore several tips and strategies to help you overcome overwhelm and cultivate a sense of calm:
1. Prioritise a Balanced Diet: As a nutritional therapist, focusing on whole foods and utilising the power of food to support mental and emotional well-being is something I'm particularly passionate about. Rather than thinking of food as calories, or something you need to work off at the gym, let's switch our mindset to see food as an opportunity to nourish our body and mind. Every meal time is chance to give our bodies a dose of the many nutrients it needs to function effectively and to weather busy periods with resilience and calm. Aim for a well-rounded diet that includes whole grains, proteins, fruits, vegetables, pulses, beans and healthy fats.
2. Ditch the ultra - processed foods, refined sugars, excessive caffeine and alcohol: Although we often lean on these 'crutches' when times are tough, they will contribute to fluctuations in energy levels and mood swings which is only going to exacerbate the overwhelm. Pair it back and focus on the good stuff.
3. Hydration: Such a simple tool but we often forget that for our body and mind to work effectively they need water! We are 70% water and being dehydrated is a big stressor on the body. So fill up your water bottle and keep sipping throughout the day.
4. Mindful Eating: Practising mindfulness while eating can be transformative in reducing overwhelm. Slow down, savour each bite, and pay attention to the textures, flavours, and aromas of your food. Avoid distractions such as electronic devices or eating on the go. By eating mindfully, you can enhance digestion and improve nutrient absorption.
5. Regular Physical Activity: Engaging in regular exercise or physical activity is an excellent way to reduce stress and combat overwhelm. Choose activities that you enjoy, such as walking, yoga, dancing, or any other form of movement that brings you joy. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood enhancers, and can help clear your mind, improve focus, and promote a sense of overall well-being.
6. Quality Sleep: I cannot emphasise this point enough! When life gets busy and we are on that rollercoaster, inadequate sleep will make the overwhelm feel ten times worse. Sleep is essential for your body and mind to recover and rejuvenate. Establish a consistent sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Create a sleep-friendly environment by ensuring your bedroom is cool, dark, and free from distractions. Disconnect from electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime to allow your mind to unwind. Quality sleep promotes mental clarity, emotional stability, and better coping mechanisms to deal with overwhelming situations.
7. Stress Management Techniques: The words 'stress management' are another phrase thrown around willy nilly, but what does that actually mean to you? It will be different for each person. For some meditation can be extremely powerful, for others it may be breath work or journalling, but for someone else its a walk in nature, or regular conversations with good friends. What we are looking to do with these techniques is down-regulate your stress response, and activate your 'rest and digest' mode, the opposite of your stress response. Ultimately stress is your body's perception of life getting too much, feeling under threat or fearful. These techniques, when practised consistently, help to adjust how we perceive situations in life so that what feels overwhelming at the moment in a few weeks or months time can be handled with more ease. Now I know what you're thinking....I'm already really busy how am I supposed to do this?! It only takes 5-10 minutes every day- choose it as a priority and it will happen.
8. Practise mindfulness in daily life: The art of being present in the moment. The next time you go for a walk or are commuting, rather than being glued to your smartphone or listening to a podcast, ditch the devices and the headphones and just listen to the world around you, even better if you can get into nature to do this. As cliche as it may sound, just listening to the natural world can help to cultivate a sense of calm and present awareness, enabling you to navigate challenging situations with greater resilience.
9. Social Support: Maintaining a strong support system is crucial when dealing with overwhelm. We are social beings and whilst certain social situations can create more overwhelm, surrounding yourself with positive, supportive individuals who understand your challenges and can offer guidance, encouragement or just to lend an ear is essential. Sometimes, simply talking to someone who empathises can provide relief and perspective.
10. Carve out time for true rest and relaxation: I encourage you to take a moment to step back from life and think about the last time you were truly relaxed...maybe it was last weekend, maybe it was last year, maybe it was the last holiday you were on, maybe it was 20 years ago when you were a student at university. Our culture has popularised the importance of busyness and equated it with success. Yet often times the busyness creates so much overwhelm that we are unable to be truly happy. Give yourself permission to truly rest, take days that are slower, soak up the little moments.
Remember, small changes can have a significant impact, so start implementing these tips gradually and celebrate each step forward.
If you'd like to have a FREE chat about how working with me 1:1 can support you to fully realise your most optimal health and wellbeing, you can book straight into my diary here.