This past week has been a bit of a struggle. I have been having a case of the ‘Mondays’ every day. The weather is cooler, the days seem longer and the nights come earlier. At first I thought to myself, “My body is trying to get sick!” While lounging in bed with all of my school work scattered across my sheets, I felt like I was forcing myself to be productive. I thought again, “I should not feel this tired! My body is not aching, I do not have a headache and I do not have a runny nose.” Then it hit me like a ton of bricks! I have the mid-semester blues.
Weeks of running around, completing assignments, working early mornings and late nights, and the mental exhaustion of studying for midterms caught up with me. I was STRESSED and the toll it was taking on my body was vicious!
Stress is the way our body reacts to physical, mental and emotional changes. It can come from various events in our lives such as work, homework, relationships, health issues, or even the pressure we place on ourselves. Long-term stress can cause a weakened immune system, muscle tension, upset stomach, and a multitude of other side effects. Signs of stress are feeling cranky, frustrated, tired, and difficulty focusing. So before we fall asleep in class and yell at our professor for waking us up. Let us focus on ways to relieve our stress.
Relieving stress is all about focusing on ourselves, relaxing our minds and our bodies. One great way to rid your life of stress is through exercise. I know this sounds quite the contrary, but exercise really can reduce stress! Take a walk, clean your house, stretch, or go hit a punching bag (not a person)…. let it all out at the gym or on your house. Another great way to rid your life of stress is through yoga.
Yoga allows you to focus on YOU! It is great for core strengthening, relaxing your mind and body, and your circulatory system. Last week I did a workshop focusing on chakras, stress management and healthy foods relating to the chakras. If you do not know what a chakra is, no worries I am going to share these with you. Let us take a journey of the energy in our bodies.
The 7 Chakras
· Root- This represents our foundation and feeling of being grounded. It is located at the base of the spine and is represented by the color red. Foods include: apples, red peppers, beets, carrots, radishes, potatoes, yams, parsnips, garlic, hot spices, and proteins such as beans and meats.
· Sacral – This represents our ability to connect and accept other people and new experiences. It is located in the lower abdomen and represented by the color orange. Foods include: oranges, tangerines, apricots, mangoes, melons, passion fruit, coconut, strawberries, nuts, coriander, fennel, cinnamon, and honey.
· Solar Plexus- This represents our ability to be confident and in-control of our lives. It is located in the upper abdomen and represented by the color yellow. Foods include: corn, grains, fiber-rich foods, whole-grain breads, cereals, granola, flax & chia seeds, rice, chamomile, fennel, cheeses, and kefir.
· Heart- This represents our ability to love. It is located in the center of the chest and is represented by the color green. Foods include: broccoli, kale, lettuce, spinach, dandelion greens, sprouts, basil, sage, thyme, parsley, cilantro, and green tea.
· Throat- This represents our ability to communicate. It is located in the throat and is represented by the color blue.
· Third Eye- This represents our ability to focus on and see the big picture. It is located in between the eyes and is represented by the color indigo.
Foods for the throat and third eye include: Blueberries, blackberries, dried plums/prunes, raisins, purple cabbage, eggplant, purple potatoes.
· Crown- This is the highest of all chakras and represents our ability to connect spiritually; a state of full bliss. It is located at the top of the head (crown) and is represented by the color violet.
Since this chakra is purely spiritual connection, there are no healing foods. This chakra is more likely to benefit from breathing clean and fresh air and sunshine.
Sunshine provides us with vitamin D, which helps our bones to absorb calcium. Vitamin D also helps cell growth, immune function, and reduction of inflammation. Typically we do not need to worry about getting enough vitamin D if we are getting SUNSHINE, however living in Appalachia during the winter months we need to ensure we are receiving adequate amounts of vitamin D.
Foods that contain vitamin D include: Flesh of fatty fish, beef liver, cheese, egg yolk, mushrooms, and fortified foods such as cereal, milk, and orange juice.
During times of stress we may tend to overeat or not eat enough. Here is a great comfort food that contains PUMPKIN! We all know adding pumpkin to just about anything screams fall is here and it is comforting. Trail mix is a great way to munch on the good-for-you squash. After you’ve whipped up this treat, divvy it into servings for a perfectly portable healthy snack, plus it offers foods from the list of chakras!
Pumpkin Spice Energetic Trail Mix
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tsp cinnamon, ground
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup unsalted whole almonds
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup unsalted pecan halves
1 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
1 cup walnut halves
1 cup pistachios
¼ cup flax seed
¼ cup pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp all-natural apple juice
2/3 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup golden raisin
¼ cup coconut
1. Preheat oven to 250°. Mix cinnamon, paprika, and pumpkin pie spice in small bowl. Set aside.
2. Place almonds, oats, pecans, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, flax seed and pistachios in large bowl. Mix together pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and apple juice; pour over nut mixture and toss until nuts are evenly coated. Sprinkle with spice mixture, tossing to coat well. Spread evenly on two baking pans.
3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, stirring halfway through cook time. Cool completely. Stir in cranberries, coconut and raisins. Store in airtight container.
As you study for midterm exams and find yourself stressing over things in your life, remember to take time for YOU! Find your outlet of relieving stress. Work out, make the trail mix above, and sing at the top of your lungs while no one is looking… or calmly collect yourself through writing. Fuel your body with foods that will help you and not leave you bogged down. If you are interested in learning more about yoga and channeling your chakras, please visit www.marshallcampusrec.com or call 304.696.4REC (4732) to schedule an appointment. As always don’t be vicious, be nutritious!
How do you relieve stress?