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Nine Unconventional but Effective Ways to Knockout Stress
"Next up in the ring, with no holds barred, it’s you vs stress. Who will be deemed victorious as these two battle it out on the mat? Will Stress throw in the towel, or will YOU be begging for mercy on the ropes? Stress may be a heavyweight, but using our best tips for battle can make this an easy TKO with you as the victor!
Here is your 9 step tactical plan for kicking stress in the butt!
1. Deep Breathing Exercises — deep breathing can help reduce stress & anxiety and, promotes a state of calm. When you breathe deeply, the oxygen supply to the brain is increased, the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated, and the result can be a zen-like state of calm. Practicing breathing techniques can quickly and easily quell an anxious mind — here’s an easy breathing exercise to try:
Sit in a comfortable position with your eyes closed.
Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth- sigh, make some noise, let it all out.
Inhale through your nose to the count of 4. Pause
Exhale through your nose to the count of 4. Pause
Inhale through your nose to the count of 5. Pause
Exhale through your nose to the count of 5. Pause
Repeat through the cycles until the count of 8. And then work your way back down…
Inhale through your nose to the count of 7. Pause
Exhale through your nose to the count of 7. Pause
Work your way all the way back down to 4....Woosahh!
2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation— tightening up muscles all over the body is a common stress reflex. Tension builds up in the jaw, neck, and shoulders from stress, which may be subconsciously causing you to hold tension from head to toe. But, just as the reflex is to clench, consciously relaxing your muscles can actually relax your mind too. There are a few different ways to practice PMR but, here’s one you can do even while sitting at your desk:
Start with your feet- tighten them up as much as you can & hold for 10-15 seconds & release.
Observe how your feet feel— then move up your body to the next muscle group.
Work your way up isolating as many muscles as you can, all the way through to your eyes and ears.
Practicing PMR also helps bring awareness to where you may be holding tension- allowing you to become more conscious & aware of how your body is reacting to stress.
3. Laughter Therapy — a good LOL can diffuse even the hottest of heads. It combats anger, relieves tension, and actually triggers the release of those much-loved endorphins— that feel-good hormone that acts like cortisol kryptonite.
4. Essential Oils & Aromatherapy — Think essential oils are hippy dippy? Or are they the real deal? Scientific Studies show that essential oils can actually pass right through the blood/brain barrier affecting a number of biological factors— including heart rate and stress levels. Lavender Essential Oil is a well-known stress reliever but, the powers of cinnamon, cedarwood, citrus, and several other oils may help reduce stress as well. While Aromatherapy Diffusers can help turn a home into a stress-free safe haven, Essential Oil Roll-ons are great quick fixes while on the go.
5. Meditation— scientists have now confirmed what yogis and monks have long since known to be true— meditation changes brain chemistry. Meditating actually nurtures the four regions of the brain associated with healthy brain function. Simultaneously, meditation depletes nutrients from the areas of the brain linked to stress and anxiety— making meditation a win-win.
6. Exercise— physical activity boosts endorphin production— the feel good, all-natural painkiller and mood enhancer. Working out is also a great opportunity to listen to music, get outside, and maybe even invite a friend along too - all things that help us in the fight against stress. The benefits of moving your body aren’t exclusive to marathon runners either, try taking a walk around the neighborhood the next time you’re feeling a little bit overwhelmed.
7. Say No to Junk-Food — Cortisol, aka “the stress hormone”, helps to also balance blood sugar. When blood sugar spikes, more cortisol is released, creating several imbalances in the body. Additionally, when Blood Sugar levels are all over the map, it can feel a lot like being stressed & anxious. Maintaining stable blood sugar levels helps everything from your sleep to your mood—- and lighten the load on those adrenal glands too! Read our recent installments of the stress blog for more information on cortisol.
8. Skip that second (or third & fourth) cup of coffee— Caffeine stimulates the nervous system- it helps us feel awake in the morning and helps us get over that afternoon slump. But, when the nervous system is stimulated, that leads to increased heart rate and blood pressure— something that feels a lot like anxiety! Additionally, caffeine actually triggers that “fight or flight” response-exactly like stress. While you don’t have to go cold turkey on coffee, swap out those refills for caffeine free tea!
9. Increase your intake of Omega 3s — Omega 3 Fatty Acids are essential for several functions throughout the body and benefit everything from the heart to metabolism. Omega 3s are powerful anti-inflammatories, and also promote brain health. Scientific Studies have concluded that inflammation in the brain is a primary cause of general anxiety. Research has shown that reducing that inflammation reduces the feelings of anxiety and depression. There are two Omega 3 fatty acids in the brain—DHA acts as a structural component while EPA is actually the brain’s primary anti-inflammatory. Increased intake of EPA helps to not only reduce inflammation and anxiety but also improves our ability to handle stress. An easy, and plant friendly, way to increase your intake of Omega 3s is with our Soothe Capsules. Our all natural anti-inflammatory combines both DHA & EPA, with high potency curcumin & black pepper, for optimal bioavailability. For more information on all things Omega- read our Omega Blog series.
In upcoming installments of the Stress Series, we will be detailing how to use superfoods and supplements to combat stress. We’ll also be diving into the effects of chronic stress & adrenal fatigue, and how to help your body bounce back!