How to recover from stress

Lifestyle, Self Care, wellbeing

How to recover from stress

Lifestyle, Self Care, wellbeing

How to recover from stress

We all know how bad stress is for us, but let’s get real here, sometimes stress is impossible to avoid no matter how much meditation you do! Obviously for me, this has really hit home while we’ve been dealing with Finley’s health problems. The day he went into surgery and the ‘critical’ period after his surgery while he was in the ICU was the most intense stress I’ve ever experienced. I couldn’t eat or sleep and cried a lot.

I wrote a post all about how to de stress, full of great ideas for handling stress better which is ideal for those periods of stress that you can see coming like moving home or starting a new job. But sometimes stress can sneak up on you, or in severe cases like dealing with the illness of a loved one, just hit you bang on the head with little warning. In those situations eating well, getting exercise and getting enough sleep go out the window and your body becomes a bit trashed!

After a period of intense stress your body can be left nutrient depleted with a lowered immune system and out of whack hormones. Stress almost inevitably also means that you have less time to care for yourself to. Now that we are thankfully at the other side of the stress we had with Finley I can feel my body screaming out for some serious TLC. Here are some tips for how to support your body to recover from stress…

Don’t add any more stress!

Ditch the to-do list and starting saying no more often. This one is really tough for me, but I’m trying to take as many sources of stress off my plate as possible. Occasionally that means doing things because not doing them makes you more stressed!

Eat nutrient dense whole foods

Avoid processed foods as much as possible and add in lots of nutrient dense whole foods. Check out my affordable super foods post for some ideas of simple nutrient dense foods. 

Eat fermented foods

Strawberry kefir1

Your gut can take a serious hit when you are stressed and some good bacteria from fermented foods can be extremely helpful. Try my home made kefir or make sauerkraut or I quite like the look of this fermented ginger carrots recipe from Stupid Easy Paleo

Skip the gluten, cow’s milk dairy and soy

Gluten, cow’s milk dairy and soy foods can be more challenging for our body to digest and assimilate so give them a break for a couple of weeks. Sheep and goats milk diary products are more digestible. 

Take supplements

I generally think that taking supplements is good idea for most of us due to the way our food is produced, but there’s an even bigger need for supplements after a period of stress. B vitamins can be especially depleted after stress so a B vitamin complex can be useful. I have also found that magnesium, omega 3 and a probiotic (in addition to fermented foods) can be helpful.

Try some maca


Maca is a root from South America which is sold in powder form. It is an adaptogenic so can support the body in a number of ways including helping it to repair from the effects of stress such as hormone balance. You can read more about maca here and buy it on Amazon here. You can add it to smoothies or porridge or try my delicious coconut and maca snack balls recipe.

Get gentle exercise, but only if you have the time

Exercise can be so wonderful for helping the body recover from stress, but only gentle exercise and exercise that doesn’t stress you out more having to find the time to do it! Walking and yoga are especially good, any exercise releases endorphins that can elevate your mood. Plus I always feel better about myself after a sweat session.


I wish I could do this one but alas having a nursing new born = rubbish sleep! However if you don’t have a new born stealing away your shut eye sleep as much as possible. 


I think this is one of the most important things! Laughter can do so much. It might be laughing with friends or family or watching a funny movie or a comedy DVD but laughter can be really de stressing.

Talking it out 

Talking through the stressful experience with someone you trust can be very helpful. It can be useful to go over what you felt so you can move on and deal with it all better.

Have you ever experienced an intense period of stress? How did you recover from it? How do you like to de stress?

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  1. Kezia

    Great shout – I don’t think we often realise how much of a physical impact stress has on our bodies so nutrient dense food is a must. I also try and up my sleep if possible ( not possible with a newborn though!!) as I am alway way more tired if stressed out:) xxx

    • Laura Agar Wilson

      Blimey I really wish I could sleep more! I’m thinking of taking an emergency sleep break getting the grandparents to give cuddles while I catch up!

  2. Janelle @ Wholly Healthy

    This is a great post! I’ll have to check out maca. I think we tend to forget how stress can take a toll physically and that we need time to recover. Awesome tips

    • Laura Agar Wilson

      Thanks Janelle, maca is brilliant, hopefully you’ll like the taste :-)

  3. Sam Ruckle

    Great post ! Thank you for sharing :) I’m so glad you’re on the other end of the stressful situation with Finley.

    Just a question about maca powder… I usually have this in my smoothies but since being pregnant stopped including it (pplluuussss I haven’t actually been able to keep down smoothies right now! eck!) Anyways, do you know if you can continue having maca in your diet when you’re pregnant?

    • Laura Agar Wilson

      I stopped having maca as the research I read was mixed. Because it can have an impact hormonally I decided to leave it. Congrats again!

  4. Pip {Cherries & Chisme}

    You couldn’t have timed this post more perfectly considering my last week! In fact, I have a similar post planned soon.
    I think the biggest thing for me is not feeling guilty when you laugh, just because something crappy is going on doesn’t mean you’re an awful person for smiling now and again…
    So glad things are on the up for you three :) xxx

    • Laura Agar Wilson

      Absolutely, sometimes you just have to laugh! Something I was really surprised by was the atmosphere in the ICU, considering how seriously ill some kids in there were, it was quite cheery!

  5. Anna @AnnaTheApple

    I think a little bit of stress can be a good thing – to get you motivated and to care about what you’re doing. But too much is awful and, like you said, is rough for your body and life.
    I agree so much that laughter really helps. Obviously you can’t laugh about everything all the time, but not taking every single second of every day seriously really helps I find!

    • Laura Agar Wilson

      I totally agree, sometimes in the most serious circumstances laughter is all that gets you through!

  6. Karina

    Well Said Laura!

  7. Lauren

    Amazing post Laura. I hope you recover from the intense stress soon :)
    I especially love that you wrote laughter. As our parent’s always say… Laughing is the best medicine :)

  8. Lauren (@PoweredbyPB)

    Great post! I’ve been incredibly stressed for the last few months with the house move, and just feeling like I need to get everything done. Will be taking these tips on board!

    • Laura Agar Wilson

      Hope you get the chance to destress soon, I know how hard going moving house is!

  9. A

    While I can completely understand that this is coming from a good place, I’d like to question the title a bit. While I’m sure all of these things could be helpful to some people, they are not all ways that everyone should use to destress. I wonder if a title such as ‘Ways of destressing’ may have been more appropriate? It may seem like semantics but as a psychologist I’m often struck by how literally clients take things they find on the internet, which in itself can add more stress for them. I’m also not sure that there is sound empirical research suggesting that e.g. avoiding dairy will reduce your stress.?

    I hope that you can take this post as constructive feedback rather than criticism. I’m all for healthy eating etc, I just know that, for many, reading advice such as this can lead to more stress as they try to implement ideas that don’t actually do them any good.

    Other than this, keep up the good work!

    • Laura Agar Wilson

      Thanks for your comment, this post is not about ways to destress, its about ways to recover from a period of stress. There is research that demonstrates how dairy is hard to digest for many people, therefore inhibiting the absorption of nutrients needed to help recover from stress (which as I state above is nutrient depleting). I certainly take on board your concerns but at the same time I have no control over how people read and take this information, an aspect to blogging I’ve had to accept and hope that people use common sense. I’ve also stated several times in the article not to add anything into your life that causes you more stress.

      • A

        I take your point about how I misquoted the title but the same principle still applies. I guess I should have said: “Ways of recovering from stress”.

        I disagree that you have no control over how people read the information. I think bloggers do have a responsibility to think about how they put their info across and while it can be helpful to share experiences, I think a post with a title that starts with ‘How to…” can be misleading as it suggests that this is THE ways to do it. Also, a lot of the advice you have given is worded in very definitive terms. For example you say that “there’s an even bigger need for supplements after a period of stress”. I’m not sure that’s true. It may well be for some people (again, sound empirical research?) but it’s not going to be the case for all.

        Generally the blogging community is a very supportive one where people are mostly encouraging each other and while that is lovely to see (and experience, I’m sure), I don’t feel that healthy debate and constructive feedback is always encouraged, and that both bloggers and their most avid followers can take it very personally when someone has a different opinion. This is one of the things that has, personally, put me off some blogs.

        I know that you’ve had a rough time recently and perhaps this isn’t the time to be ‘disagreeing’ with you, but my post isn’t aimed at you individually as a person, but rather at the content of something you’ve written. So please don’t take it personally.

        • Laura Agar Wilson

          Please don’t mistake my reply as being defensive, I welcome constructive feedback unlike some bloggers! But of course I am going to respond to it, as I said I think you make some valid points but I don’t believe that just because I named the post as a ‘how to’ anyone reading would take my word as gospel. Whenever anyone writes something that isn’t research based (and even sometimes when it is) they are writing from their standpoint and opinion, I don’t read an article in a magazine called ‘how to lose weight’ and see that as being the only one true word on the subject and I expect my readers to view my content in a similar way. However as I said you have raised a fair point and as long as baby brain does make me forget ;-) I’ll add a disclaimer to posts like this in future or choose a different title.

  10. Rachael

    This post is so spot on Laura, thank you, and it’s something that I’ve really been going through over the last few months. I went through an extremely stressful period and it’s taken me about 6 months of following all the things you point out here to recover. Saying no, being kind to myself and doing what I can and really listening to my body and to my self have all been things I’ve had to learn. I find meditating (or just sitting listening to calming music really) and writing in my journal as regularly as I can really helps. Thanks for another great post Laura!!

  11. Katerina Pozzi

    I love your advice! Everyone should be doing all of those things on a weekly basis at the very least. I especially appreciate that you begin with the importance of eating the right food. All too often we focus on what’s going on in our minds without remembering that our minds are part of our bodies and need to be taken care of from a variety of angles.

    Unfortunately, too many people allow stress to dominate their lives, and very often they end up entirely burnt out. For more a more in-depth understanding of how stress affects physiology, and some great additional advice on overcoming adrenal fatigue, stress, and burnout, check out this article:


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