Is multi-tasking damaging your health?

By Jelena Savic, Bachelor of Health Science in Naturopathy (BHSc Nat), Healthy Life Chadstone VIC

Multi-tasking can trigger stress on the mind and body
In today’s society, we all seem to be in a rush, trying to complete tasks, juggle family demands, carry out work commitments and find time for a social life.

As women, we tend to be very well adjusted at multi-tasking, it seems to be in our DNA to do more than one thing at a time, as well as helping others, but we rarely do things for ourselves and so in turn our health may be compromised.

Even safety instructions advised by flight attendants tell us to place the oxygen mask on ourselves first so that we are then able to assist others should emergencies present themselves. So when we look at priorities we may need to sometimes take a step back and recognise the importance of a healthy woman and the role she plays.

We know that stress is a major trigger for adrenaline and cortisol production and as these hormones give us the energy and drive to get things done, we need to understand why stress management is so important. It is sometimes easier said than done but learning what triggers our stress can also help us to find ways to minimise the effects.

Cortisol is vital in regulating many of the changes that occur in the body's response to stress. However, continuous long term production of these “stress hormones” may cause the adrenals to become chronically fatigued causing symptoms of tiredness, anxiousness, nervousness and impaired cognitive performance.
Effects of cortisol can also be quite taxing on our immune system and consequently reduce its ability to ward off disease. With our defence systems down, we may be subject to catching a cold more easily than often and may have constant feelings of general ‘un-wellness’.

Due to the closely linked gut-brain connection, stress can also interfere with our basic digestive processes, resulting in symptoms of bloating, burping, indigestion, irregular bowel movements and reduced nutrient absorption.

Tips on to how manage a busy lifestyle without sacrificing health
Mindfulness:
Our minds can get carried away in thought processes especially with the ever-increasing list of things to do throughout the day. Try finding that ‘me’ place to help quieten your mind and return to the present moment with a fresher approach.

Listening to music can create positive relaxed feelings as so too can a walk amongst nature. To get the most benefit it should become a healthy habit to take time out for yourself. It can be extremely rejuvenating.
Creating lists can be a great way to reduce the stress and anxiety, instead of relying on your memory to get all the things that need to be done.

Food for thought:
Breakfast and dinners seem to be sorted when it comes to multi-tasking for the family. However, for lunch we are most likely reaching for the kid’s scraps or measly leftovers or completely skipping lunch altogether. Make sure you have a nutritious snack tucked away in your bag to keep your energy levels up and metabolism boosted. Try a piece of fruit, a protein bar or even a handful of nuts.
Prepare food ahead of time and create lunch recipes that are simple. One pot meals are great, as they can be separated into smaller containers and placed in the freezer to be heated up when needed. Nutritious snacks such as nuts and seeds or a protein shake are quick and easy and will help regulate blood sugar levels, keeping you mentally and physically energized.

Supplement/Herbs:
Magnesium is a must! Research has shown that people consuming Western-type diets are low in magnesium by 30%–50% of the recommended daily allowance. We cannot seem to get enough from food alone to support our needs. Stress, sweat and medications can all reduce the levels of magnesium in our body. This wonderful mineral is very important in supporting our nervous system, cardiovascular system and musculoskeletal system by exerting a relaxing effect, reducing stress, anxiety, nervousness and aiding sleep.
B complex vitamins can be a great aid in producing energy both mentally and physically to keep us going throughout the day.

Passion flower, kava and lemon balm have a calming and relaxing effect on the mind and body.

Herbs that support our adrenals such as rhemannia and licorice can reduce the susceptibility to exhaustion that comes with adrenal fatigue. Schisandra, rhodiola and withania are classed as adaptogenic herbs that help us adapt to external and internal stresses in life. These herbs can help lessen that over-whelming feeling we get at times, when our list of tasks seem all too much to handle. To qualify as an adaptogen, a herb must be completely safe and non-toxic and it must specifically reduce stress, both mental and physical. To put it simply: Adaptogens help you adapt.

So when you seem to have too much on your plate and multi-task because you can… remember that although jumping from task to task may result in a false sense of accomplishment, human brains weren’t built to multitask. By concentrating on one goal at a time, you’ll be better able to achieve all your goals, and probably in the same amount (or even less) of time.

Our qualified in-store health practitioners can help guide you to improve your stress management skills.