Life doesn’t slow down when spring has sprung. Although we look forward to brighter skies, longer evenings and warmer temperatures, spring also brings additional sources of stress, including allergens, packed-out schedules, and additional travel.
Stress – which can be anything that upsets or disrupts your equilibrium or balance — plays a role in your overall health and especially the health of your kidneys. Stress sounds your body’s “fight-or-flight” alarm, releasing a flood of hormones that increase your heart rate and raise your blood pressure, which isn’t especially helpful when you’re, for instance, sitting in traffic.
But most of our bodies are adaptable, and stress management techniques provide tools to reset the hormone response brought about by stress.
If you’re ready for the most stress-free spring ever, try some of our kidney-friendly tips for a stress-free spring.
Get Plenty of Rest
If you regularly lose patience waiting in line at the grocery store, feel excessively irritable about your low oxalate diet restrictions, or can’t find the motivation to plan your low oxalate meals, you may not be getting enough sleep. A stress study conducted by the American Institute of Stress found that adults who got fewer than eight hours of sleep per night are more likely to feel overwhelmed, skip exercise, and lose interest in everyday activities.
Other than hitting the hay a few hours earlier every night, there are a few other ways to sleep more soundly, including limiting your exposure to light an hour before sleeping, meditating or doing light yoga before bed, or journal for a few minutes to clear your mind.
Choose Whole, Healthy Foods
You’ve heard the old saying, “you are what you eat”; it turns out, this axiom is closer to the truth than we think. As researchers learn more about the gut-brain axis – a communication system between your GI tract and your nervous system – they have found that the foods you eat can play a role in how well your body adapts to stress and anxiety. Studies have found diets with healthy levels of omega-3 fatty acids are linked to lower levels of anxiety. Diets high in magnesium and zinc may also help, although human clinical studies are still needed to confirm. But if humans behave anything like the mice in a handful of published studies, magnesium and zinc may be a kidney-friendly stress buster. For those on a low oxalate diet for kidney health, this means including Swiss chard, salmon, eggs, oranges, and avocado – in moderation.
Hydration is also very important when it comes to the kidney friendly stress taming for your system. Challenging coworkers to a water-drinking challenge, eating more fruits and vegetables with high water content, and adding fruity flavor combinations to your water can make hydration an effortless part of your routine.
Automate Your Life
Take a moment to think about how many decisions you make in a day. From deciding if you should start a new hobby to choosing a main dish for dinner, all your decisions – big and small – can add up, taxing your brain’s capacity. In a 2008 study, researchers found participants who made lots of choices had less physical stamina, reduced persistence in the face of failure, more procrastination, and more difficulty with mathematical calculations.
What’s that mean for those of us who aren’t neuroscientists? It means we should minimize decisions in our lives, which may help us achieve the balance our bodies crave.
Consider “automating” some of your daily choices – for instance, buy only white socks so you don’t have to spend time matching them, or plan your low oxalate meals a week in advance so you’re only making a decision once. Additionally, it can be helpful to opt-in to subscription programs for vitamins, kitchen supplies, laundry detergent, paper towels, cat litter or other consumables. One less thing on your to-do list can help free up your decision-making process.
Living a low-oxalate lifestyle can, in itself, be stressful. With these tips, you’ll be on your way to a kidney-friendly stress-free season.