We all have stress in our lives; some more than others. You owe it to yourself and your health to keep your stress under control.
What is stress?
Stress is our body’s natural response to an event. It can be a response to change, sitting in traffic, watching a scary movie, a public presentation, pressure at work, even getting into an elevator or getting on the rowing machine to row 300 meters in shockwave☺ can cause stress. Stress really is anything can be caused by anything and everyone is different and has a different response.
How the body reacts
When your body in under a state of stress, or demand, it goes into a fight or flight mode. This releases a surge of hormones including adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones trigger an increased heart rate, breathing, increase your blood pressure, and increase sugars in the bloodstream.
Everyone will experience different reactions to the hormonal changes. Some will experience digestive issues, headaches, migraines, sleeping, depression, anger and irritability. Being in a constant state of stress may run down your immune system and lead you to be sick more often. More severe or negative effects can include heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and other illness.
We can’t escape stress, but the good news is that we can keep it under control.
Just 30mins of exercise a day can help reduce the cortisol levels in your body. You don’t need to work out for hours each day if you are doing the right thing. Intervals can ensure that you get the most bang for your buck in the shortest amount of time possible. More on this soon.
During increased times of stress or demands it is important to fuel your body smartly. You’ll want to eat more lean protein, vegetables, and healthy fats. The right balance of these foods will help keep your blood glucose levels normal so that you can combat the effects of increased cortisol. The more carbs you eat the more you will crave and the more run down you will get storing those sugars around your mid-section. I personally like to abide by the 80/20 rule when it comes to nutrition: eat balanced meals 80% of the time and you can have your favorites not so health options 20% if the time. If you turn to high carbohydrate food your body will crave more and you will end up in downward spiral.
In last week’s post we talked about the importance of sleep and shared tips to help you sleep better. See it here. Getting enough sleep, 6-9 hours a night, will help lower cortisol levels in the blood stream.
The practice of Restorative Yoga turns off the flight or fight response and engages the process of rest and digest, inducing a physiological state that is the exact opposite of the stress response and allows the body time and means to return to homeostatic balance. We have a restorative class every other Monday from 7:15-8pm. Sign up today.
Abdominal breathing each day will reduce anxiety and reduce stress. Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain. Breathing techniques help you feel connected to your body—it brings your awareness away from the worries in your head and quiets your mind.
Apple just launched a new ‘Breath’ app for the Apple Watch which reminds you to relax and focus. Every four hours it will remind you to take deep breaths. You can do this in as little as one minute. If you own an Apple Watch and don’t have this turned on, do it NOW!
For those that don’t have an apple watch try this simple technique. Take five deep breaths with a four-second inhale, and a four-second exhale. This will allow your body to reset. Watch for more breathing tips from us this week.
Fact sheet on Stress. https://www.nimh.nih.gov