Winning the rat race

by ir. Yvana van den Hork

Even though some might not admit it freely but just about everyone is taking part of the rat race. It might be your job or just the mere fact you try to keep yourself afloat by paying off your or loans, making sure you don't end up eating from soup kitchens or worse, 'sleeping with fishes' like Luca Brasi. Even 'keeping up with the Joneses' can be stressful.

Being constantly stressed results in a constantly high cortisol level, and by consequence poor health. It is not easy to bring down high stress levels, when circumstances prevent you from getting enough sleep or spending more time in the gym or yoga studio when you would rather indulge in a large bar of chocolate or drink your sorrows away. Therefore a few tips to reduce your financial burden and at the same time improve health.

Obviously, the most bang for the buck is to quit smoking and stop drinking alcohol. Contrary to what is often believed, smoking and drinking alcohol doesn't even reduce stress, it increases stress levels.

Often, a fitness lifestyle is condemned as being expensive as well as time-consuming. This is not necessarily true. Many exercises can be done at home with very little extra tools outside a yoga mat and a few kettle bells.

True, protein is expensive, but having a freezer allows you to both buy in bulk and prepare food in advance. And, surprise, surprise : frozen fruits and vegetables are both cheaper and fresher than 'fresh' vegetables. While frozen fruits seem to be increasingly available, the choice of veggies can be rather limited.

As they say, variety is the spice of life: surprise yourself by what your supermarket has on sale and use a recipe website like Yummly or AllRecipes to get inspiration and start cooking. Cooking your own meals will not just save money, but also reduce stress by itself.

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Cortisol is essential for life as it combats physical or psychological stress by raising blood pressure and converting protein into fuel. Cortisol also reduces inflammation. Abnormal high levels however, lead to cellular degeneration, making cells prone to infection and abnormal cell replication.

 Phosphatidylserine is a fatty acid that restores levels of protein kinase C (PKC). Without PKC, a cell membrame becomes fragile, resulting in early cell death. Use of phosphatidylserine can be beneficial on many levels: the brain, the immune system, nerves as well as muscle tissue.