We all know stress can wreak havoc on the body.
It can affect our brain, gut and even our bodily functions.
The brain is the most powerful organ in the body!
There’s a reason why the placebo effect is a real thing; our brains can convince us of many things. When your body is stressed your cortisol goes up - triggering your body’s ‘fight or flight’ mode.
Do you ever recall that feeling of nervousness before doing an anxiety-inducing activity? Maybe it’s a hosting a presentation, or dealing with an argument. That feeling of your heart racing, upset stomach and general discomfort is your body reacting to stressors!
Your body goes into adrenaline mode from the stressors because it believes there is a threat. Your body thinks “Hey, we need to protect ourselves!” and attacks the threat, thus creating inflammation.
Chronic stress leads to inflammation - which is the body’s response to threats.
Here are some tips on managing stress!
REDUCE OR ELIMINATE:
A study identified very high caffeine intake (>1000 mg/w) to be a risk factor associated with anxiety and depression.
Another study found that both men and women who reported higher levels of stress tended to drink more. The impact of stress does not cease once a patient stops drinking. Many alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be traced to the HPA axis, the system at the core of the stress response.
Some smokers find it hard to give up cigarettes as a way to cope with stress. It’s important to find healthy ways to handle stress and take care of yourself without smoking.
Adopting a mindfulness practice for as little as once per week may reduce stress and anxiety.
For on-the-go types try phone apps like Calm and Headspace.
There are many kinds of breathwork, many meditation apps or smartwatches have breathwork included in their resources. Box breathing is an easy way to practice breathwork!
Aerobic exercise significantly decreases blood pressure and oxidative stress.
Progressive muscle relaxation
Breathe in, and tense the first muscle group (hard but not to the point of pain or cramping) for 4 to 10 seconds.
Breathe out, and suddenly and completely relax the muscle group (do not relax it gradually).
Relax for 10 to 20 seconds before you work on the next muscle group. Notice the difference between how the muscles feel when they are tense and how they feel when they are relaxed.
When you are finished with all of the muscle groups, count backward from 5 to 1 to bring your focus back to the present.
Yoga has many positive benefits - including reducing stress and anxiety, in addition to increasing strength and flexibility.