Stressed? Anyone out there been stressed before? Unfortunately our society is plagued with different stressors on a daily basis. The degree and length of the stressful event can definitely effect our bodies in a negative way.
We all know stress isn’t good for us. A lot of people don’t realize just how bad it can be and how it impacts our body.
Our bodies aren’t meant to handle long term stress, therefore, chronic stress is very destructive to us. We are only set to handle short term stress (the fight or flight response).
Chronic stress can provoke a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness which psychologist call a “defeat response”. This chronic stress causes us to release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol wreaks havoc on our bodies.
Lets look at some of the effects a high cortisol level can have on the body. Chronic stress can lead to:
- elevated blood sugar
- difficulty getting glucose into your cells
- increase in hunger and sugar cravings
- reduction of the ability to burn fat
- hormonal imbalances
- reduction of DHEA, testosterone, growth hormone, and TSH hormone
- cells being less sensitive to insulin
- increased belly fat and increased chance of fatty liver
- increased rate at which fat is stored
- increase in fatty acids and triglycerides in your blood
- a suppression of your immune system
So now that we see some of the things chronic stress can do to our bodies, how can we better manage stress. Below are a few suggestions and techniques to help calm your nerves and reduce your stress.
1. Listen to music. Playing calm music can have a positive effect on the brain and body, can lower blood pressure, and reduce cortisol levels.
2. Call a friend. If life is overwhelming you, take time to stop what your doing and call a friend to discuss what problems you are having. Good relationships are an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It is always nice to hear a reassuring voice.
3. Talk yourself through it. If calling a friend isn’t an option, positive self talk can be very effective. Go through steps to help you complete the task at hand and remind yourself everything will be OK.
4. Eat right. Stress levels and a proper diet go hand in hand. We usually resort to junk food, high in fat, sugar and salt as a pick me up food. Fruits and vegetables are always good alternatives. Fish which is high in omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce symptoms of stress.
5. Take a deep breath. This may seem cliche but it holds true with stress. Sit still for 3-5 minutes with your hands on your lap breathing in and out deeply, concentrating on your lungs fully expanding. While shallow breathing causes stress, deep breathing oxygenates your blood, helping to clear your mind.
6. Laugh out loud. Laughing releases endorphins that improve mood and decreases stress causing hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Laughing tricks our nervous system into making us happy.
7. Try tea. Caffeine can stress you out, so when you are already stressed, this is not the time for coffee. Green tea contains less caffeine and contains a healthy antioxidant theanine which has a calming and soothing effect on the nervous system.
8. Exercise. Getting your blood moving releases endorphins and can have an almost immediate effect on your mood. Get up from your desk at work and take a brief walk around the office. Stand up and stretch and take a few deep breaths.
9. Sleep better. Stress can cause you to lose sleep, but unfortunately lack of sleep can cause stress. This vicious cycle causes the brain and body to get out of whack and will get worse over time. Try some deep breathing techniques before bed to calm your mind.