5 Tips To Reduce Stress Naturally
We all live in a busy hectic world, and everyday stressors can really wreck havoc on our bodies. This can be even more so for those of us who are also struggling with our weight and our health. The constant worry, pain, frustration and feeling like we’re all alone in our challenges. Finding natural ways to reduce stress can even cause more stress!
Stress is caused by an increase in the hormone cortisol, which is a necessary hormone for our survival (it’s our fight or flight mechanism), but increased levels (especially prolonged) can really mess with us. Let’s face it, not many of us are worried about running from a charging lion every day!
That’s pretty much common knowledge. What you may not realize is that the increased cortisol levels are actually what trigger so many of the diseases we have today, including your thyroid and adrenal glands.
Other things that are greatly affected by increased cortisol are feelings of anxiety, irritability, it can lead to weight gain, bone loss and even contributes to diabetes and heart disease risk. Not to mention the fact that it can completely deplete your energy levels.
So, how do you fix it? Well, below are 5 super tips to manage stress naturally.
1) Exercise and Yoga: I know, we’ve all heard it a million times how exercise is so important to our health, but exercise to combat stress may be something we really hadn’t considered. It is well known that when we exercise, the body releases endorphins (the “feel-good”) chemicals in our brains that have will boost your mood and actually act as a natural pain-killer. Who knew?!
2) Meditation: This one was new to me, as I’d never done any meditation until several months ago, but I can personally attest to its power. By concentrating on your breath or some other mantra instead of letting our minds go crazy and think of all kinds of crazy things, we are actually slowing down our brains and allowing the brain to lower our response to stress. It also can improve mental alertness and help you overcome feelings of anxiety, depression, attention deficits, substance abuse, eating habits, sleep patterns, pain and weight gain.
3) Nutrient Dense Diet: Ok, you really didn’t think that I would skip nutrition did you? 😄 Having a diet rich in nutrients like vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, electrolytes, amino acids and antioxidants all play a part to help your brain handle stress better, and your entire body in return. Some of the best foods for natural stress relief are:
- Foods high in B vitamins(which the body uses to convert nutrients to energy) : Examples of these are raw or cultured dairy products, cage-free eggs, grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, poultry, brewer’s yeast and green leafy vegetables.
- Foods high in calcium and magnesium: These are relaxing minerals and electrolytes that allow our muscles to relax, alleviate headaches and help us sleep better. Some particularly great food sources would be unsweetened organic yogurt, wild-caught salmon, beans/legumes, leafy green veggies, cruciferous veggies like broccoli, nuts and avocados (have you tried my chocolate pudding yet?).
- High protein foods: Proteins provide our bodies with essential amino acids that are needed for proper brain function. So, in order for our brains to operate correctly and allow us to reduce our stress response, we need to be feeding it some great protein. Try eating more beans, wild-caught fish, cage-free eggs and poultry.
- Healthy fats and Omega 3 fatty acids: Adding cold-water, wild-caught fish like salmon or sardines can reduce inflammation and help stabilize moods, plus omega-3s are great for the brain, development and heart health. Other healthy fats that support brain health include nuts/seeds, avocado, olive oil and coconut oil. My one-pan salmon dinner is a fabulous choice for a great healthy meal that’s ready to eat in 20 minutes!
4) More nature/social time: I don’t know about you, but my happy place is in the woods! I absolutely LOVE to be outdoors, listening to the birds singing, hearing the sound of the wind rustling through the trees and smelling the clean fresh air! As it turns out, making time to connect with people around us, spending time outdoors and doing things that we love with our family, friends and significant others are all stress relievers. It’s also great for your health in many other ways too. Being more connected and social has been linked to longevity because it helps us feel like we’re a part of something that’s bigger than ourselves and brings a better sense of perspective. Being outdoors has a similar effect, because it helps to remind us that we’re just one piece of a much larger universe, thus lifting our mood and who knew…. Makes it easier to get a good night’s sleep. I mean, think about it, the last time you spent the day outdoors, didn’t you fall asleep easier and sleep better? I know I sure do!
One last note about social connection. Did you know that even 5 minutes spent cuddling, can lift your mood? In our fast paced, technology driven world, we have lost so much in ways of connection. Touch, laughter and meaningful face-to-face conversations have been lost, and with it, our ability to lower our responses to stress.
5) Journaling: This may be my absolute favorite secret tip to reducing stress. Since I started journaling about 9 months ago my ability to handle life’s stresses has changed dramatically. My favorite time to journal is first thing in the morning when I wake up. You know how when you first wake up your brain starts going all crazy with all the things you need to do for the day? Well, journaling helps to calm all that down, provides clarity on how I’m feeling and what my goals and plans are for the day. It provides a grounding point from which I can launch new ideas, answer questions I may have, and allows me to document the things that I am grateful for. If you’ve never tried it before, trust me, it’s something you may want to investigate. Check out The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, it may very well change your life too!
So, what do you think of those 5 amazing tips? Which one(s) will you begin to implement? I’d really love to know, so please make sure you leave me a comment.
Here's to your health!
PS: If you’re totally frustrated with the effects of your efforts to create and maintain a healthier diet and lifestyle,I feel ya for sure, let’s chat! What if just one discussion could change your life? I love to share what I know and help as many people as possible. You can contact me here: LET’S CHAT!
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