Excessive stress can lead to fatigue, anxiety, and insomnia. You probably already knew that. But did you know the process by which it happens? Excessive stress doesn’t actually cause fatigue, anxiety, and insomnia. Rather, it depletes magnesium in the body; fatigue, anxiety, and insomnia are symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Diet and stress relief are interdependent in complicated ways. Add exercise into the mix, and the complexity increases even more. Fortunately, you don’t need to master the complexity in order to benefit from it. You can benefit from all this complexity if you just take care to balance your diet, exercise, and stress relief.
You can find the essentials of a balanced diet at the Healthy Eating page sponsored by the CDC. It summarizes American dietary guidelines:
- emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
- include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts
- keep saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars low
- stay within your daily calorie needs.
The balance comes in the variety of foods you eat. Pandas may eat bamboo exclusively, but human beings have evolved to eat a lot of different things. Go for as many whole foods as you can. The only place to exercise restraint in your diet is with alcohol, refined sugar, refined flour, and processed foods. Beyond your need for a good mix of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, you need micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc.). The best way to make sure you are getting micronutrients, like the magnesium I mentioned above, is to eat a wide variety of foods. You get magnesium, by the way, by eating plenty of whole grains, nuts, seeds, and dark green leafy vegetables.
What is balance when it comes to exercise? The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity, or some combination of the two. Moderate intensity means increasing your heart rate and your breathing volume. If you’re breathing harder but still able to speak comfortably, you’re doing moderate intensity aerobic activity. When you begin to speak in gasps, you’ve crossed over to vigorous intensity.
If 150 minutes sounds daunting, it really shouldn’t. That’s 2.5 hours spread out over a week, or a 30-minute session every weekday, with weekends off. Most of the athletes I coach average about 1,000 intensity minutes per week. Admittedly, these are people training for endurance races, and they are working well beyond what an ordinary person needs for a balanced life. But believe me, a half hour of rapid walking per day is eminently doable if you just set your mind to it. If you balance your activity with your calorie intake, you’ll be more than healthy — you will manage your weight effectively.
Balance Diet, Exercise, and Stress Relief
Together, diet and exercise can do a great deal to reduce stress. But if you really want to balance them with stress relief, try some of the recovery technologies we offer at Peak Recovery & Health Center. We happen to be very good at helping you manage the sources of stress in your life. Whether you want to relax and sweat in our infrared sauna, use cryotherapy to give yourself a rush of endorphins, raise your energy level with photobiomodulation, turn the world off for a time in our float pod, or treat yourself to the tension relief of a skilled massage… you can find stress relief here. And you may find a new balance in your daily life. Book a session today.