What Causes Stress
We have all experienced some type of stress in our lives rooting from a variety of things, such as a job, social commitments, school work, etc. The cause of people’s stress may be different across the board, but the way our bodies react to stress is the same for everybody.
Essentially your body goes into what we like to call the “fight or flight” response, when this happens, your adrenal glands release a bunch of hormones including adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline is responsible for increasing your blood pressure, heart rate, and energy supply. Cortisol is the main stress hormone that can alter all other important bodily functions such as suppressing your immune system and digestive system during times of stress.
Usually when whatever is causing your stress has passed, your hormone levels normalize and your body functions can proceed as normal. If your stress is long term and your hormones remain in an elevated state, you are at a higher risk of developing other health problems such as anxiety, depression, headaches, etc.
Healing Tips to Manage Stress
There are several natural ways that your body can manage stress, For starters, pay attention to your diet. Foods that are highly processed and loaded with sugar will only fuel the fire. Make sure you eat regular meals with high quality protein, healthy fats and plenty of vegetables. This will fuel your body and keep your blood sugar stable.
One of the most important ways to manage your stress naturally is through exercise or some type of physical activity. Exercise is shown to reduce the levels of your stress hormones and increase your endorphin levels. This helps to elevate your mood and relax your mind from the stress that is burdening you.
I’m sure we all know that stress likes to mess with our sleeping patterns, leaving us up until all hours of the night and depriving us of precious beauty sleep. I know once my brain starts, it won’t stop. The less sleep we have the more stressed we will feel. I suggest creating a nighttime ritual after dinner. Start by reducing electronic use and completely avoiding all electronics an hour before bed. Take a bath with epsom salts, sip on chamomile tea or pick up a book. Work on shutting down your brain. Try to get to bed before 10pm. By doing this, you are promoting your ability to enter into a deep sleep cycle and skip the second wind that happens if you stay up late.
Restorative yoga poses are a wonderful way to relax, sink into some feel good stretches and recharge at the same time! I personally love the legs up against the wall pose. Blood will flow back into your organs away from the extremities. This can be very healing and naturally help to reduce stress. Try this for as little as 3-5 minutes daily. Lay flat on the floor, with a pillow for under your head. Make sure your bottom is touching the wall and your legs are parallel and also touching the wall. You can also put on relaxing music for an enhanced experience!
The last tip I will give you for managing stress is to simply just breathe! Deep breathing exercises can activate your parasympathetic nervous system which controls your relaxation response. It also helps to reduce your heart rate and will make you feel a sense of calm and peace. I personally like to use the equal breathing technique with clients and myself. Find a quiet place, either sitting or laying down. As you inhale through the nose, puff the belly out. As you exhale through the nose, pull the belly in. Count to four each time, creating equal length in breathing. The counting is also a great way to distract your mind from racing with thoughts.
I hope you find these tips helpful during heightened times of stress. Addressing the root cause of emotions and stress is important during your healing process.