Stress…can’t live with it, can’t live without it…
When there is too little stress, we are unproductive, like a couch potato. When there is too much stress, we also become unproductive, because the body shuts down on us. Somewhere in between we find a balance where stress becomes an essential, but not overbearing component of our every day existence.
And, it’s not easier said than done—follow these simple steps to find your zen and tame your stress! You may just find that cortisol is not your archenemy.
#1 Awareness: identify your triggers and your REACTION to these triggers. The reason stress is more our enemy than our friend is, because of our PERCEPTION. There are many studies that compare change in various biochemical markers including cortisol, pancreatic enzymes like amylase, and blood sugar levels to name just a few, and how they increase with our perception of stress.
#2 Exercise: it is mentioned in every topic I discuss. Including this one! In fact, it’s not just about exercise, but total MOVEMENT throughout the day. Got your one hour workout in the morning or evening? Awesome. Research shows that exercise lowers higher than normal cortisol levels, balances blood sugar, decreases oxidation related to stress, and…gets you out of the funk associated with stress thanks to the endorphins that get released during exercise.
#3 Breath and posture: ever notice that you STOP breathing when you get tense? Happens to the best of us. Usually the posture goes out first, and our breath follows. The posture can also dictate how we breathe. So, strike a pose and stick out that belly! I said it. At some point in the day, find a nice comfortable position that opens up the chest, lowers the shoulders from it’s neighboring ears, and keeps the back straight. Place your hand on the belly and focus on pushing the hand out with every exhale. Try using an app like Breathing Zone—you can set a timer, choose if want breathe to a male or female voice or a tune, and set the amount of breaths you want per minute. I recommend 4-6.
#4 Nutrition: there are KEY nutrients that serve a vital role in stress management and response. Most of these you can get from a wholesome diet (that you’re already eating, right?!), but prolonged stress can actually put you at a deficit that can be hard to replenish with diet alone. It depends on who you are and your daily stress levels. So, drum roll please….the key nutrients necessary for energy production, blood sugar regulation, nervous system function, fat metabolism, and the formation of cortisol itself are: Vitamins B5, B6, B12, Magnesium, L-Carnitine, CoQ10, D-Ribose, and Malic acid.
There you have it. Four simple tips to include in your every day life to help stress work for you rather than against you. Stress management is at the cornerstone of any health and wellness program. Whether you are looking to increase your energy, lose weight, get better sleep, set a PR, or reach your professional goals, stress management can help.
Always consult your healthcare provider about any symptoms you are having before starting a new exercise routine, lifestyle program, or before putting yourself on supplements. Schedule a visit with us at ProactiveHealthND.com to learn more about how you can improve your reaction to stress.