By Dr Juliette Hazart

Chronic stress is now a recognized risk factor for many diseases. It also leads to an increase in individual behaviors which are also risk factors for many diseases, such as:

  • unhealthy diet,
  • lack of physical activity,
  • increase in sedentary lifestyle,
  • consumption of tobacco, alcohol, cannabis…

Learning how to manage stress is the first step towards breaking that vicious circle. So what are the key tools to managing stress ?

Diet

In the 5th century BC, Au Vème siècle av. JC, Hippocrates, a Greek physician, already recognized the health benefits of a good diet: “May your diet be your first medicine”. In having a varied diet, favouring produce that is local, fresh and in season, provides your body with the right vitamins, minerals and trace elements.  

Stress can lead to snacking with an appetite for sweet or fatty foods. Going on a food shop after having eaten, preparing your own meals, favoring low fat cooking methods (e.g steaming), playing with seasoning, respecting your biological clock by having regular meal times allows you to limit your intake of empty calories (1) and your weight gain. But you should also listen to you cravings, and enjoy yourself without feeling guilty. Mindful eating is your well-being ally. 

In Practice

Before my meal, I listen to my hunger queues, my real cravings. Cooked or raw? Bitter, sour, sweet or savory ? During my meals, I satisfy these cravings and I increase my senses tenfold. I pay attention to the color, texture, smell and taste of my food. I am aware of their importance. As I increase my pleasure while eating, I am able to better feel when I’m hungry and when I’m full. . 

Physical activity

Physical activity is your ally to : 

  • improve your physical health 
  • reduce your levels of  stress, anxiety or even depression,
  • increase productivity at work. 

When it comes to physical activities, regularity is key, and should last for at least 30 minutes everyday. 




In Practice

Active walking is an interesting activity as it can be practiced outdoors, indoors or even during a break at work. It can be practiced by everyone, except for a few specific contraindications concerning rheumatic diseases (2). If you do not have 30 minutes in a row to practice, the benefit will be the same if you split your exercise into three 10-minute sessions per day. 

Mindfulness

Pleine conscience
  1. I choose to carefully observe a few objects that surround me. I become aware of their usefulness and feel gratitude for these precious objects in my daily life.
  2. I become aware of the beneficial effects of breathing by allowing myself a breathing break.
  3. I walk with awareness. For 5 minutes, in silence, I become aware of my steps. I focus on myself to be able to better connect to my environment.
  4. I read with awareness. Before reading, I find a comfortable position, I sit quietly. I give myself a breathing break for a few minutes, then I start reading.

 

Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do right now. Reading, cooking, moving, listening to music, breathing, meditating? Choose your keys to find fulfillment in the present moment which does not decide the future!

(translated by Zahra Kharbouch)

(1) Calories that do not provide the body with the nutrients it needs to function properly. Eating foods made up of empty calories can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

(2) If in doubt, consult your doctor. 

In Practice

  1. I choose to carefully observe a few objects that surround me. I become aware of their usefulness and feel gratitude for these precious objects in my daily life.
  2. I become aware of the beneficial effects of breathing by allowing myself a breathing break.
  3. I walk with awareness. For 5 minutes, in silence, I become aware of my steps. I focus on myself to be able to better connect to my environment.
  4. I read with awareness. Before reading, I find a comfortable position, I sit quietly. I give myself a breathing break for a few minutes, then I start reading.

 

Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do right now. Reading, cooking, moving, listening to music, breathing, meditating? Choose your keys to find fulfillment in the present moment which does not decide the future!

 

(translated by Zahra Kharbouch)

 

(1) Calories that do not provide the body with the nutrients it needs to function properly. Eating foods made up of empty calories can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

(2) If in doubt, consult your doctor