Tag Archive for lethargy

Running on Empty: Stress and Women

 By Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Adults today are more frazzled and overwhelmed than ever before.  For many of us, being stressed has become a way of life; managing a hectic schedule, meeting deadlines at work, striving to be the perfect parent and partner, or dealing with increased financial woes,  all of these daily stressors can have a negative affect on our health.

Dr. Robert Leahy, the director of The American Institute for Cognitive Therapy, and author of The Worry Cure, reports that women today “have the same anxiety level as a psychiatric patient did in the 1950s”.  Wow Ladies…what are we doing to ourselves?

This is extremely worrisome for women.  Not only can in contribute to the onset of mental and physical disorders, but it can cause hormonal and immune system imbalances. 

They longer we run on “low”, the more of our neurotransmitters we burn through.  Our excitatory neurotransmitters, those that allow us to meet deadlines, bake 3 dozen cookies for the bake sale, and read your child a bedtimes story (all in the same night), are harder to access. The longer they are activated without downtime the more likely they are to become depleted. Depletion can cause burn out, depression, anxiety, and chronic fatigue. Compare this to a car that’s running on empty, you can’t drive it forever, you need to stop and refill your gas tank…you get the analogy.

Now, I am not trying to stress you out even more, but it is imperative to look at your life and where your daily stressors come from. Your demanding boss, that obnoxious PTA mom who is always delegating her tasks to you, paying bills, or the high expectations you put on yourself; once these are identified take action to reduce their impact on your life.  Talk to your boss about setting up expectations she has for you or making more reasonable deadlines; set up a coffee date with the PTA mom to ask how you and she can work together (or avoid her all together); set up your bank account to pay bills automatically, you won’t even think about them. If you find that you are putting more pressure on yourself than the world is demeaning of you, and it’s more than you can handle it may be beneficial to seek out professional help.

Here are some other ways to manage and reduce stress:

  • One of the best ways to reduce stress is to get it out. Write in a journal, talk to a good friend, and make a to-do list.  The act of writing worries down is shown to automatically reduce stress and improve your memory.
  • Boost your immune system and fight stress with good food and supplements.
    • Find a good immunity complex at your local Whole Foods or Trader Joes, containing high amounts of Vitamins B, C, and D; these are the first vitamins to deplete when you are getting sick or running on empty.
    • Make good fats a staple in your diet. Supplement with an Omega 3 fatty acids, such as a fish oil containing DHA and EPA.  These fats that contribute to well-being, healthy skin and nails, and boost your immune system.
  • Eat to fight stress; don’t overload on carbohydrates and make sure your eating enough protein.  Protein is the precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin (aka the feel good neurotransmitter). 
  • Delegate tasks, instead of taking things on that you don’t have time for ask for help. Recruit a co-worker to help with a project or your partner to help with cooking dinner or taking your place in the carpool when you’re overwhelmed.
  • Exercise is a great way to reduce stress; it releases endorphins in your body to make you feel good, plus it temporarily increases your energy. Try an afternoon jog rather that that cup of coffee, or go for a walk with a friend rather than catching up on the phone.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. Therapists swear by combining deep breathing with visual imagery, to even there most anxious patients.  It increases oxygen to your brain; physiologically calming you down and allowing you to move on quickly to the next task, without getting overwhelmed. 

If you are stressed, often times your family and friends can feel it too. Get a handle on it now, before it takes over your life.

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The Power of Protein

By: Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Its 3 PM. Your starving, so you reach for that 100 calorie pack of starch to curb your hunger…and your not satisfied?  Well who would be, there is no protein in it, its all carbs.  We all know protein is important for keeping us full and keeping us strong.  However, studies find that most children are not getting enough and many adults fall short on their daily intake as well.  The reason this is so important, is without the rotation of different proteins and the quantity, out bodies will not make the natural amino acids that keep  us focused, stable, and happy. 

The Facts: Amino acids are the building blocks for Neurotransmitters; amino acids are created by our genetic make-up, but also our diet.  Protein and supplementation are the main sources of changing and increasing amino acid availability in ones body. 

Are You Getting Enough?: To calculate how much protein you need on a daily basis take your body weight in pounds and divide it by 2.2, this will give you amount in grams that your body needs at a minimum (unless otherwise noted by your doctor or other health professional).  For example:  140 pound woman needs approximately 64 grams per day.

Where to Get it:Nuts, lean meats, dairy products, soy, legumes, whey protein powder, and seafood are all great sources.  For kids a serving size is approximately 2 oz, depending on their weight. For adults a serving size is 4 to 6 oz.

Protein for Kids:  even for the pickiest eaters daily protein intake can be achieved.  This especially important when school starts and focus is needed.  In the morning try almond or peanut butter and toast, instead of a pop-tart or sugar filled pastry.  For a mid morning snack, freeze a yogurt and put it in their lunch box, it will be cold by the time snack-time rolls around.  For lunch, turkey and cheese roll-ups, rather than pizza. For dinner, adding in tofu or chicken to your child’s meal will increase their amino acid availability and keep them satisfied longer.

***If your child refuses, whey protein powder is easily hidden in smoothies, milk, and oatmeal.

Why Rotate?: If we eat the same thing everyday our body is going to get used to the amino acids in that food, making it difficult to create new strains of amino acids, thus less neurotransmitter availability.  Therefore, making changes in protein increases your availability to create new strains.  Simple fixes are, chose fish instead of chicken on your salad.  Add protein powder to your morning oatmeal instead of just milk, or try adding in a mid morning snack of yogurt and nuts.

So next time your starving, think about this, will that snack fill me up?  Adding in protein keeps you fuller, longer, carbs alone will leave you feeling hungry and tired.  Instead of that bag of chips try a bag of trail mix, or cheese and crackers .  You will find yourself more focused, in a better mood, and best of all SATISFIED.

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