We can be so caught up in caring for our loved ones that we neglect own health and wellness.  That’s when life’s daily stresses start to wear us out causing headaches, low energy, and increasing their susceptibility to illness.   Follow these eight simple steps below to look better, feel better, and have the increased energy that you need to enjoy your life!

Step #1.  Eat to Beat Stress.  Balanced eating and eating frequency are the foundation of your body’s ability to handle stress.  With the proper nutrients throughout the entire day, you stabilize spikes in stress-related hormones, particularly cortisol, which accelerates the aging process, and help keep blood sugar levels on an even keel.  Your day should be comprised of three main meals and two smaller ones – five meals a day – to keep blood sugar steady and energy high.

All foods fall into three categories:  pro-inflammatory, neutral, or anti-inflammatory, but the best foods to beat stress are those that are anti-inflammatory.  To slow cellular aging, choose foods that are anti-inflammatory and rich in antioxidants, such as cold-water fish and richly colored fruits and vegetables.  Avoid all processed foods, fast foods, excess carbohydrates and sugars, caffeine, sodas and fruit juice and fruit drinks. For an extra boost, you can try an FDA approved medical food such as Inflammation 911.

Step #2.  Keep it simple and clean.  Eat food the way nature made it – the way it grows naturally on the earth - and avoid genetically modified foods (GMO) at all costs.  Fruits and vegetables should fill your plate, along with grains, and light, clean forms of high-quality protein:  chicken, turkey, lamb, cold water fish like tuna and salmon; tofu and legumes.  As much as possible, choose organically grown food to avoid the pesticides and herbicides released into our food supply.   

Some wonderful meal options include:  for breakfast, choose oatmeal or a non-gluten grain; organic yogurt with granola; a poached organic egg on rice bread, or a fresh fruit smoothie.  Fruits and vegetables should fill half your plate at lunch and dinner.  Keep things simple:  start with high quality rice, legumes and beans, add a huge portion of your favorite vegetables, sautéed or steamed, and a salad with a lemon juice and olive oil dressing; add a protein portion the size of the palm of your hand – simple, clean, and easy.  For flavor, use a drizzle of organic olive oil, sea salt and herbs to taste.

Snacks can be meal replacement drinks, fresh fruit, or a fresh fruit smoothie; raw vegetables with a hummus dip; a small handful of nuts and seeds - raw almonds, sunflower seeds, pecans and walnuts. Choose Anti-inflammatory foods to enhance you health and stop accelerated aging!  

Step #3.  Drink plenty of water.  Water is the elixir of life; our bodies are 70 percent water.  How much is the optimal amount to drink?  Here’s your formula: multiply your body weight by .66 – that’s how many ounces you should shoot for each day.  Keep a bottle handy wherever you go, and soon you’ll feel and see the difference.  Sip on warm water throughout the day in the winter, I call it my internal hug J; to enhance cleansing and digestion add fresh ginger, sliced lemon or apple cider vinegar. You can even bathe in 2 cups of apple cider vinegar for additional relaxation and cleansing. As you support all of your body’s miraculous processes with plenty of water, you will experience more energy and glowing skin.

Step #4.  Exercise is vital – all life is motion!  Exercise can brighten your outlook, relieve stress and modulate blood sugar, which can help keep your food intake in balance.  Even a ten-minute brisk walk – first thing in the morning, at lunchtime, or right after work – will work wonders at ramping up energy and well being, and dialing down stress.  Even if you think your schedule won’t allow for the recommended time of 30 minutes daily, break it up into five or ten minute increments: power walk up the stairs, do a set of jumping jacks, pick up a hula hoop and work your core, or even grab a jump rope go for 60 seconds of jumping, followed by 60 seconds of rest, eventually moving up to 5  uninterrupted minutes.  Or you can even take small breaks throughout the day and visit You Tube for a variety of exercises.

Step #5.  Meditation: Try it!  Enough cannot be said about the benefits of meditation. We give so much energy to our children, our spouses, and our careers, but for just 20 minutes a day, take the time to draw same loving energy back to your own heart center and feel in tune with yourself.  Meditation will help clear your mind, release negative thought patterns, and create a more joyful life simply by getting in touch with the stillness within.  If meditation is too challenging for you, try journaling every morning or evening for 15 minutes.  The act of writing down your thoughts moves energy from the inside out, and can bring a new idea, dream, or desire into the physical world.  It’s a wonderful tool to process difficult feelings, and release them into a safe ‘compartment.’. Download a free meditation here.

Step #6. Conscious breathing melts away anxiety. Feel the breath slowly expanding your lungs and your belly. This will ground and relax your own internal energy. It will also relieve tension throughout the body, relax the eyes and send oxygen to every cell tissue and organ while it relaxes the mind. Oxygen is vital so every now and then enjoy a HUGE inhale and a slow relaxing exhale.

Step #7 Exercise Move your body! Movement will enhance your mood, boost your immunity and relieve tension! Walk with a friend, join a gym or work out in the comfort of your own home we even have some basic exercise video for you here.

Step #8 Support Your Body With High Quality Supplements Take high quality, physician only, supplements to fill in the nutritional gaps from your diet. Vitamin D3 with K2 is a great example, it helps greatly to boost the immune system and fight seasonal affective disorder! Whole bone support will ensure your body has the nutrients necessary to build healthy strong bones. Children’s supplements will ensure their health from their immune system to their glowing skin. http://drhartfordsnaturalpharmacy.com/index.php?main_page=products_all

Finally and perhaps most importantly, acknowledge the amazing power within you that made you maintains you and keeps you striving for health and vitality every day of your life. That power can take these simple steps, and create a healthier, more relaxed, more energized, you!

Resolve to make some changes in caring for your own well-being.  Try these simple tips and soon you and your whole family will feel the benefits!

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Kathleen Hartford is an internationally known speaker and the author of “Fit, Fun and Fabulous at Any Age.” She sees patients in her integrated wellness center in Natrona Heights, PA. Visit here to sign up for her newsletter: http://drkathleenhartford.com/opt-in/