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5 Ways to Cope With the Stressful Fall Season

09/23/2015 12:43 EDT | Updated 09/23/2016 05:12 EDT
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Portrait of woman standing still in the middle of a street with cars passing by fast, screaming stressed and frustrated

We're well into September which means we've entered a shift in our activities: vacations have wrapped up, kids are back at school, the days are getting shorter and we're all dealing with a routine shake-up. These changes add pressure to both parents and children alike.

Kids rarely tell us that they're feeling stressed but will usually communicate it physically, whether consciously or unconsciously -- headaches, tummy aches and tiredness. A common result of stress is the inability to fall asleep.

For men and women, we communicate stress differently as well. Research shows that women are far better at managing their stress because they are more likely to discuss their stresses. Men, on the other hand, box up and internalize it until they reach a breaking point.

Stress is the number one North American cause of illness and is considered by researchers as a "silent killer" -- a major contributor of significant illnesses, from heart disease to cancer. I've rallied up a few pointers on easy diet and lifestyle changes to adopt over the coming months to reduce stress, increase energy and boost overall wellness.

Biology 101

Be aware of physical triggers and signs to help control stress levels. During stressful or negative emotions our heart rhythm is erratic and the corresponding pattern of neurosignals, which travel from the heart to the brain, inhibit cognitive function such as focus and attention. It also automatically suppresses the immune system, which can predispose us to get sick. If you find you are frequently stressed and often get sick, try integrating an all-natural immune support like COLD-FX into your daily supplement routine.

Inhale, exhale

Engage in active deep breathing to reduce stress in the moment. Breathe in through your nose for five seconds, hold for seven seconds and breathe out with pursed lips for eight seconds. The "five-seven-eight" method can also help kids and adults sleep better and more soundly through the night. Sleep, crucial for mental function, is the best supplement for stress -- and my personal favourite!

Sweat it out!

It's always better to manage your stress rather than cope with it. When it comes to stress management, the age-old rhetoric of exercise is essential. Build 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercises into your daily routine. This is an excellent way to burn off cortisol, the primary stress hormone.

Mela-what?

A key dietary supplement for stress management is melatonin, a hormone made by the pineal gland in the brain that helps regulate sleep cycles. Small amounts of it are found in foods such as fruits and vegetables -- but it can also be bought as a supplement. Swiss Natural developed Melatonin Dissolvezzz, and that's what I use. With about five milligrams of melatonin in each capsule and a soothing peppermint flavour, it's ideal for anyone looking to better support their sleep patterns. Make sure to consult with your health care provider before adding this to your daily routine.

Basics are best

Inflammation is a medical buzz term these days and for good reason: everything from high sugar and bad fat causes tremendous physical stress to our body. Keep this in mind when preparing meals for your family. Being aware of what nutrients, vitamins and amino acids are included in your foods will keep you conscious of what ingredients can aid in stress management -- particularly with mental function. On my radar? Fish oil! DHA and EPA is what I refer to as brain juice. Taking one to two teaspoons daily will supply the brain and nervous system with the support it needs to stay focused.

Integrating these manageable lifestyle changes, you can stay stress-free and healthy heading into cold and flu season.

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