5 Easy Ways to Reduce Stress
Stress in a way has become our way of life. Wherever you happen to stationed in the world, nearly every human being on the planet goes through some sort of stress in their life. Society has adapted to stress, from growing food instead of relying on gathering, to building walls over our kingdoms.
Stress isn’t always a bad thing, in the sense that stress can push us out of our comfort zones; if we embrace it in a constructive and positive manner, life obstacles can bring on opportunities to learn and grow.
Our bodies have three major stress hormones. Adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine. You’ve heard of “fight or flight.” The body releases adrenaline and norepinephrine. in moments of fight or flight when quick or sudden stress is prevented.
Cortisol is a slower released steroid that comes from the adrenal glands after they’ve been signaled from the hypothalamus. When cortisol is present in the bloodstream, it signals the body to put more energy into life-saving vital functions in the body such as the cardiovascular and nervous system; and puts functions such as digestion, immunity, and reproductive function. The chronic steady release of cortisol can lead to problems in the body.
That explains why if you are seemingly always stressed out, burning the candle on both ends, your mood dip, stomach issues or appetite change, and your sex drive lowers. Women even can have changes in their menses when they experience ongoing stress. Instead of occasional running from a predator kind of stress, we have frequent low-grade stressors throughout the day.
It’s the chronic cortisol ESPECIALLY that we got to look out for.
Since inflammation is the route of nearly all disease, I’ve compiled a shortlist of easy & affordable ways to reduce stress for you.
#1- Connect with Nature
Spending time in nature is a wonderful way to relax and recharge. So often we forget our roots to the Earth and animal kingdom. The fresh air does wonders for our bodies and mind. The sounds of birds off the distance, or rain falling on a tin roof is one of my favorites. Watching a sunrise or a sunset on the horizon.
Grounding– aka “Earthing” is spending time barefoot on the natural floor. In the holistic realm, it is believed that grounding is a way to recharge our bodies with the charge at the core of the earth. Studies have shown that grounding helps reduce inflammation, decrease anxiety and depression and even lower inflammation.
Examples would be: walking barefoot in the sand, on the grass or solid earth.
Connecting with nature has a calming effect, allows us to unplug from our devices and recharge our spirit with the natural world.
The body is meant to move!
Exercise not only improves blood flow, but it also makes your body release endorphins, the feel-good hormones. Similar to an opioid effect on the body, endorphins reduce pain in the body and increases a sense of euphoria.
There is a form of exercise for everyone, even if you are chair bound. You can exercise alone out in nature, or inside with a gym full of people and equipment. You can play sports with friends or even dance as a form of exercise. Doing housework or even spending private time with your partner is considered exercise. There are all sorts of ways to get exercise and movement in the body. Just find the style that works for you!
If you have painful joints or knee injuries, exercising in a pool is an alternative that takes pressure off the joints. Yoga, pilates, and tai-chi are other forms of exercise that is easy on the joints.
Laughter is a get way to reduce stress and boost your endorphins. Letting off a little steam with a little good humor can be an instant mood booster. Laughing makes us take in more oxygen and change up our breathing, and the material you are laughing over makes a nice distraction to what was bothering you. I especially enjoy when something funny happens during a tense moment; two people who were fighting, are suddenly then erupted with laughter.
They say laughter is the best medicine. I don’t know who “they” are, but they got a point…
Take time to watch things that uplift you, whether funny movies or stand up comedy specials. Laughter goes a long way!
Taking time every day to find something to be thankful for can significantly reduce stress. While there is always more we can want, we are always in a better place than others are at in their lives. No matter what life circumstance has arisen, gratitude will put things into perspective.
Every day for a month, write down a list of everything you have to be grateful for. You can even expand it to things in the future you have to be grateful for. It’s a wonderful exercise to help realign your mindset and lower stress levels.
Gratitude gives us a reminder of what we have, instead of focusing on what we don’t have. There is always something to be grateful for.
Meditation, prayer, breath-work, quiet time: it all serves the same purpose. Taking a little time every morning and every night to focus on calmness, relaxing the mind, will help you find a balance between your mind over matter.
In our on-the-go-go-go society, we are constantly exposed to numerous stimuli and distraction. The idea of freeing our thoughts completely can sound daunting to some, but daily practice can help calm our busy mind and leave us coming back to the grind with more clarity and better mood.
Allow yourself 15 minutes a day where you just sit with yourself and focus on nothing but your breathing. It’s as simple as find a quiet area, closing your eyes and relaxing the mind. You don’t need to sit a certain type of lotus or have your hands a certain way. While some people will light a candle or chant a repetitive tonal noise, none of that is unnecessary or required. Find a method that works for you, and try it for 30 days.
There’s Always Supplements
Of course, there are some supplements that have shown to help reduce stress and calm the mind. It’s something to consider before committing to prescription medication. I always think it’s a good idea to look at your surroundings, your diet, and your support system before believing you need medical intervention. There is depression as a medical illness, and then there are just winter periods in our lives.
What’s even better is, you don’t need to even have a prescription for these below:
*The Carrot Campaign is not a replacement for medical advice*
Also known as Indian Ginseng, an adaptogenic herb. It helps reduce cortisol levels, which not only helps with overloaded cortisol levels but stress-related weight gain around the waistline.
Better consumed before or during a meal, rather than in on an empty stomach in a fasted state. Cortisol is still a much-needed hormone used throughout the day, but cortisol running through the bloodstream during a feeding state will increase fat storage. Take Ashwagandha daily for short term periods, no more than 3-4 months at a time.
Shown to help reduce anxiety and depression in adults. Cannabidiol (CBD) mimics “anandamide” in the brain, a neurotransmitter used in the endocannabinoid system, that roughly translates to”joy.”
Anandamide is used for a multitude of functions in the body to maintain its equilibrium and homeostasis. Not only has it been shown to help with mood and sleep regulation, CBD also reduces inflammation in the body.
It is recommended to take CBD in oral form, whether drops or food form. I do not condone vaping of anything into the lungs.
St. John’s Wort– a word of caution
A yellow flowering herb that has been used for centuries for kidney & lung health, wound healing and depression. It’s mainly known as a herbal substitute for anti-depressants, but a lot of people don’t realize that St. John’s Wort can interact with MANY types of medications, including anti-depressants and life-saving medications. If you use St. John’s Wort at all, make sure to list it on your medical record for this reason.
* Check with your doctor before taking ANY supplements, for any drug interactions for any medications you take.*
Better used for mild melancholy rather than bi-polar or severe forms of depression. It’s either one, or the other. If you aren’t taking ANY medications at all, including birth control, then try it. But don’t mix them with prescription medications, discuss it with your doctor. St. John’s Wort interacts negatively with many medicines.
So there is a few low-cost suggestions to keeping stress at bay during our day-to-day lives. Try spending a bit more time outdoors everyday, kick back our shoes and plant our feet to the earth. Surround yourself with loved ones, full of laughter and remember all the beautiful aspects of life you have to be grateful for. I am grateful to readers like you.