Get your stress under control… the right way

It’s Monday morning. There are 8 Facebook notifications to respond to, 30 new emails, an entire feed of Instagram posts to engage with, an 8 hour work day ahead of you, an hour workout after that, dinner, showers, family time, and taking care of logistical business like paying bills, planning your summer,  and taking your pup to the vet. I GET IT!

Stress is simply a byproduct of the society we live in. If you’re like me, you’ve watched documentaries like “Minimalism” and decide (for 2 days) that you’re going to change the way you live. You are going to give up all of your belongings and social media and focus only on the things that truly matter. I WISH I was strong enough to live this way.

But the reality is, I love the convenience of our modern world. I love being able to chat with people that are important to me anytime I feel like it. I love having access to a world of knowledge and research and I love that a robot can vacuum our condo for me while I go to the gym and let off some steam….HOWEVER, living life in the fast lane and forcing your body and mind to be in a constant state of stress can wreak havoc on you physically and emotionally.

Nerd Alert

When you are stimulated physically or emotionally, your body has to kick it in gear. You’re quickly approaching a deadline at work (“think faster brain, think faster!”), you just did leg day and feel like dying (“pick it up quads, you look like a fool shaking that way!”).

Your body has to have little messengers (norepinephrine, epinephrine, and cortisol primarily) that tell everybody to pick up the pace. When these little guys start delivering the message, it’s called a sympathetic response. Many professionals refer to this response as the “fight or flight response”. Whether you’re fighting or running for the hills, your mind and body need to act.. FAST. While this response is necessary for survival, these little messengers come with serious baggage. THEY TELL EVERYONE. Literally everyone: your legs, arms, brain, heart, stomach, lungs. Literally can’t keep their mouth shut.

After a series of complicated pathways, your body recruits a swat team to get shit done. And they do. But, they also cause lots and lots of inflammation in the process. The INFLAMMATION that results from stress is what ultimately leads to physical problems.

INFLAMMATION –> BAD NEWS.

Physical Effects

It is our body’s natural response to promote inflammation when in a state of stress. It’s protective and necessary for survival. However, in today’s society, everything from the foods we eat to our normal daily routine is stressful. All this inflammation causes serious harm to our bodily tissues and results in chronic diseases. Here are just a few:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Coronary Heart Disease
  • Autoimmune Disorders like Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Chrohn’s Disease
  • Cancer

Cortisol (a stress messenger) also promotes fat storage right in our lower stomach. NOT A GOOD LOOK, YOU GUYS!

Mental Effects

When your mind is constantly having to dish out those stress messengers, it has long term effects on how your brain functions. It depletes the happy messengers (because who cares about being happy when you are just trying to survive) and eventually slows down your metabolism (because it can’t keep up forever). These effects usually manifest in the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Panic Disorder
  • Depression
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Relationship issues
  • Poor decision making skills
  • Unhealthy attachments to food and alcohol
  • Insomnia and sleep disorder

 

 

 

Chill Out

Lucky for us, science has proved we have a way out! Taking breaks from the stress, getting rid of that pesky inflammation, and restoring our happy messengers gives us back control! Control of our minds, our bodies, and our well-being!

Here are my 5 favorite ways to combat the negative effects of stress:

  1. Sleep 7 to 8 hours every night! Your muscles, mind, and gut need to repair themselves during the deepest stages of sleep. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT! Your body NEEDS rest.
  2. Meditate! 🙂 I always meditate first thing in the morning. My day feels like I woke up and said “I’m doing this day on purpose!” Try 10 minutes per day.
  3. Avoid refined sugars like cookies and pastries (eat these carbs instead). They are extremely inflammatory in nature. Hence, nerve damage in diabetics with poorly controlled blood sugar.
  4. Avoid excessive consumption of caffeine. It’s a synthetic (fake) stress messenger that pumps you up.
  5.  Go offline. Turn off your notifications and spend time with loved ones. Set a block of time at least 1 day per week to come back down to earth.

For those who have no chill, add:

  1.  5-HTP. Take 100 mg once daily. This supplement helps restore your primary happy messenger (serotonin).
  2.  Eat lots of vegetables!! They contain antioxidants which help reduce inflammation. They are also alkaline and help reduce overall inflammation in your body.
  3. Take Fish Oil. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory. AND it turns on fat burning. CHA-CHING!
  4. Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol. Your body has to work VERY hard to detoxify alcohol, which, in itself, promotes a state of stress.
  5. Do something outdoors J. There’s something about being outside that makes us feel centered. Mother Nature is chill for sure. Go hang out!

 

I seriously hope this helps you guys chill out a little! And remember, “ Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it”.