The Serve

Tech-Free Weekends: Unplugging and Reconnecting with Nature

Tue, Jun 04, 2024

by Baylee Reller

In my world as a weight loss Dietitian, one common barrier that is getting in the way of my clients weight loss goals… STRESS. In my experience, we are very much in a hustle culture that feels like our worth depends on how stressed you are. The more stress, the better because that means your life has meaning or at least that is how I have felt and maybe you can relate. 

Here's the deal, stress will impact your body mentally and physically. While we can tend to avoid handling this burn out feeling, it truly can make all the difference in the world when we stop reinforcing our sympathetic system (fight or flight) all day and start engaging more of our parasympathetic system (rest and digest). 

As a dietitian some of my concerns for effects of stress include:

  • Increased inflammation
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Appetite changes
  • Weight loss resistance
  • Weakened immune system
  • Altered gut health and function
  • Migraines 
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Reproductive health 
  • Brain fog 
  • Adrenal fatigue 

    Oftentimes we think of stress in terms of work, kids, relationships and finances but stress can also be from undereating, overexercising, lack of sleep, poor gut health, imbalanced blood sugars, sickness, alcohol, impacts of social media, and the list goes on. We do need stress to stay alive, keep us going on a day to day basis and to create resiliency but we don’t want to be stress dominant or not be able to switch between our parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. We all have stress to some degree which doesn’t really matter what your stress is compared to the next person. What’s important here is how we respond to our stressors. 

    Take some time today to think of your stress bucket like the one pictured below. On the left side brainstorm what is being added to your bucket. Then on the right side do a checkin to see how you are unloading your bucket. This is the exact exercise I work on with my clients to bring awareness to what is being added to our bucket and if we are doing anything to make sure we’re not overflowing. 

    If you’re looking at your bucket and realize “wow, I’m really good at filling it but not so great at emptying it out” then here are some tips for you on how you can deload your bucket. 

    1. Spend some time outside. This will help you to synthesize vitamin D, sync your circadian rhythm for better sleep, boost your energy, lower cortisol levels (aka your stress hormone), and provide mental clarity to name just a few benefits. You can also practice grounding or “earthing”. This practice is when you make a connection with the ground so you can absorb negative electrons that help neutralize free radicals and decrease inflammation. This can be done through practices like barefoot walking, laying in the grass, gardening or there are even grounding mats now available. 
    2. Unplug from the virtual world. Being connected to anything and everything within the palm of our hand can be quite a luxury but being connected to anything and everything is also very overwhelming with constant stimulation. Make a commitment to turn off screens an hour before bed and see how just this 1 simple step can drastically improve your sleep quality. 
    3. Find balance in your world. As a dietitian, I really encourage my clients to not be sucked in to the all or nothing type of thinking. This is exactly why you can’t stick to all your new healthy habits. For example, with 75 Hard this is very much so a “do this or you fail” type of approach which works at first but in the end I find it to not because it doesn’t teach balance. One of the components of this popular trend is no alcohol. Which yes, I know that alcohol doesn’t provide benefits. However, I am also an adult and know that I can include alcohol mindfully if I choose too. Then, I work to find my best choice like a Volley compared to a loaded sugary beverage. Volley is a better choice because its made with simple ingredients like real agave tequila, organic fruit juice and sparkling water. So instead of being perfect, think of balance and the best choice for that situation! 

    Managing your stress bucket will change how you react to your outside world and change how you feel internally. As someone who used to thrive off high stress days, I’m here to tell you that a little bit of sun, unplugging and balance will change how you feel forever. 

    I would love to connect with you more on how you can focus on supporting your metabolic ecosystem. You can visit my instagram here and let’s talk soon!