The Truth About Stress
STRESS. Just hearing the word makes us cringe a bit. It gets tossed around so casually in our society these days, and it’s almost seen as a sign of hustle when one says they are stressed. But guys, stressing out all the time isn’t cool. It does serious damage to not only our mental health obviously, but also physically. And I’m not trying to preach here….just ask Chris. Being that we live in a rectangle on wheels, he sees me pretty much all day every day. Which means he knows my stress levels (hint-they aren’t super low). So I write this not just for you, but for me. Because who wants to live with stress and anxiety? It takes consistent effort to keep those cortisol levels low, but with some helpful tips (and chocolate!) I believe we can live a less stressful life together, and make the vibes of the world just a little higher.
So how does stress work anyways? It can actually be a normal thing at times, like falling in love, getting ready to give a life changing presentation, or getting that job promotion. You know, the butterflies in your tummy excited kind of stress. But then there’s the other kind, that signals to our body that it needs to be in protection mode. Which is super helpful, when we are being chased by a bear. Our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is triggered and signals the “flight or fight response”. But, lucky for us, we don’t get chased by bears on the reg. Here is where the issue lies. Our bodies can not tell the difference between running for our lives and sitting at a computer frantically trying to meet a deadline. This means that when you are dealing with day to day stress, your body is freaking out and basically preparing you for survival mode.
When stress hormones are constantly triggered, the body remains on alert. You eventually build up a tolerance, and your poor body just deals. Yikes. This constant state of flight or fight weakens your immune system, causes all sorts of stomach issues and digestion frustration, and loss of libido. That alone is serious motivation to get your stress in check. It also messes with your hunger cues and stores fat, because your body thinks it is saving up for famine. Remember, you just ran from a bear according to your insides. Who knows when you’ll be able to feed that tummy next. Not to mention an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol-hellooo heart attack. As if that wasn’t enough, this constant stress state can affect your mood big time. You will feel angry, depressed, and lack serious energy. Your body feels like it’s having a bad day, every day. This of course is not normal, and you will eventually just shut down.
Okay you’ve heard the scary stuff. Did I convince you to look for a way to calm down yet? The good news is, we can turn off this “flight or fight response” by using our parasympathetic nervous system. Phew! This helps our body “rest and digest.” Let’s be honest, we could all use a little more of that. So how do you activate it?
- Meditation. I’ve gone into detail about the importance of meditation combating stress here, but this is definitely a game changer.
- Breathing exercises like soft belly breathing. Next time you’re freaking out, try closing your eyes and taking deep breaths in while you expand the low belly, and contracting the naval on the exhale.
- Good nutrition. Of course! Did you think I would leave out the food aspect? Aim for clean, real food and get rid of that processed nonsense as often as possible. This means reducing sugar intake as well. But don’t worry, read here to find alternatives for the chocolate that brings you happiness.
- Along with nutrition, taking supplemental adaptogens (help to balance and restore body) help balance cortisol levels and ease stress. Some of my favorites are ashwagandha, tulsi holy basil, and reishi mushroom.
- Gratitude. I find that making a daily gratitude list reminds me of all the abundance I have, and takes my focus off the things causing me to stress out. This journal is part of my morning routine, and I swear by it!
- Move that booty. For some (ME), exercise of any kind is a requirement for mental health. Go for a run, get in down dog, or start twerking asap.
- Organization. Set yourself up for success with a peaceful and clean environment. Your future stressed out self will thank you for it.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help! There is no shame in delegation so you can go and get a massage or binge watch Friends. Shortening your to-do list can provide instant relief.
I think we can all agree that it’s time to tell ourselves to chill out. I should probably read this post daily. Try out some of these techniques to ease stress, and let me know what you think!