Is your life full of stress, stress, stress? Sometimes I get stressed just thinking about all the stress we are all surrounded by in this day and age. When we experience stress our “fight or flight” response is activated. According to Ash Nadkarni, MD, an associate psychiatrist at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, this gets the adrenaline going, makes the heart beat more quickly and causes a rise in blood pressure. When stress hormones are chronically present over time it increases the risk for health problems such as anxiety, depression, heart disease, increased weight, and cognitive problems. None of us can totally live stress free lives, but there are natural solutions we can employ for how to relieve stress and reduce the effects of stress on our health.
Nutrition For Dealing With Stress
Certain foods can actually physically help you deal with the effects of stress. There are foods that can increase serotonin levels which can calm the body and those that can reduce levels of cortisol and adrenaline which are triggered by stress. Complex carbs are good for increasing serotonin as well as balancing blood sugar levels. This would include foods such as whole grains in cereals, breads and pastas. Vitamin C can help control levels of cortisol from spiking, boost the immune system and help maintain blood pressure levels. Black tea is also good at relieving stress and reducing levels of cortisol. Eating foods with magnesium, B vitamins and chlorophyll are good for coping with stress. When under stress, the body uses up these stress relievers so that just when you need them the most, they are the least available to you. Eating lots of leafy greens, halibut, oysters, nuts, seeds and bluegreen algae can give you the extra nutrition you need to support your body through the times you are coping with stress. B vitamins, produced in the intestines, especially B-12, help us relax, soothe our nerves and help us deal with stress. Having healthy probiotics in your gut can give your body a boost to keep producing these vitamins and help your body cope with stress as well as support overall digestive system function and gut health.
Our bodies also need more proteins when we are under stress and good proteins include those from whole grains, soy, sprouts and bluegreen algae. Good proteins support your body’s ability to handle stress, both physically and mentally. Another supplement we find useful in providing nutrition for stress relief combines bluegreen algae, eleuthero, Ginkgo biloba, Lion’s Mane, bee pollen, wheatgrass juice, and noni. This nutritional combination gives support to help you function when stress overwhelms you.
Exercise For Dealing With Stress
Exercise provides another natural solution for dealing with stress as it releases endorphins which boost mood. Aerobic exercise is a good way to increase oxygen circulating in the body, relax muscles, as well as increase endorphins and reduce cortisol and adrenaline. Exercise also gives you a chance to get away from work and other stressful situations giving you a much needed break and a chance to regenerate and refocus mentally. Even just going for a ten minute walk can revive you and allow you some time to de-stress.
Change Your Surroundings to Relieve Effects of Stress
Looking for a real natural solution for coping with stress? Change the colors you surround yourself with. According to Molly Roberts, MD, president of the American Holistic Medical Association, colors like blue, green and grey can help soothe and calm. Visual cues from these type colors affect the brain nerve pathways that control emotion. If you find yourself under a lot of stress take a look at changing the color of your walls, furniture, and even the screen saver on your computer. Organizing your environment can also help give you some relief from stress. Clutter and being disorganized add stress to your life. Lauren Napolitano, PsyD, a psychologist at Bryn Mawr Hospital in Pennsylvania, advises that organizing your physical environment can also help organize your emotions. Clear out your desk, drawers, closets and anything else you see regularly that is in disarray.
Create Balance For Dealing With Stress
Creating balance in your life is another way to naturally cope with stress. You know the saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. Well, it also makes Jack a stressed out boy and you too. Making time in your life to spend time alone and to enjoy the company of others can help decrease stress levels. Oprah Winfrey shares her way of dealing with stress by finding a quiet place to go that she can be alone, breathe and find the stillness inside that connects her with all other living things and then she smiles at the wonder of this. Rita Eichenstein, PhD, a neuropsychologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Towers in Los Angeles, recommends singing as a way of relieving stress. Chanting in meditation or singing your favorite tunes can relax the mind as the sound vibrates through the body and has been shown in research studies to decrease cortisol and lower blood pressure levels. When looking to create balance it is important to consider all aspects. Pushing yourself when you are sick, tired or hungry only increases stress. You may think you are being more productive by refusing to stop work to eat or rest, but actually you are just increasing the likelihood of burn-out and becoming sick enough that you can’t ignore your body’s needs anymore. A well balanced body that has optimal health can withstand more stress too so it can take on more stressors than a tired, sick or hungry body. The key to balance though is not too much of any of these either way. Too little or too much sleep can both be detrimental, so find just the right amount to stick with. The same applies to hunger – skipping meals can increase stress, but so can eating too much.
You can’t banish all stress from your life, but you can learn ways of coping with stress to keep it from overwhelming you. Good nutrition and exercise that support stress relief, some lifestyle changes and awareness of what triggers your stress can all go a long way to helping you triumphant over the stress in your life.