Pretty Purple Passion Flower
The Flourishing Tree
The passion flower plant is more than just a showy flower that grows on vines or small bushes in tropical regions around the world. It is also a well-known herbal treatment for anxiety-related conditions. Those who use this herb report a reduction of jitters and nervousness. Passion flower also has sedative properties, which helps insomniacs get better or longer sleep. Because of these sedative properties, it should never be taken with other sedative herbs like valerian, nor should users take passion flower before driving, operating heavy machinery or doing anything that requires fast reflexes and a great deal of attention.
Cortisol And Stress: The Basics
Cortisol is one of several hormones the body produces naturally. Cortisol levels do go up when youre stressed. But it doesnt deserve its bad rap.
Cortisol supports overall health, Dr. Lin says. It helps us wake up, gives us energy during the day and lowers at night to help us sleep and rest.
The problem arises when chronic stress keeps cortisol levels high for the long haul. High cortisol levels over weeks or months can lead to inflammation and a host of mental and physical health problems, from anxiety to weight gain to heart disease.
Fomi Facial Gel Bead Eye Mask
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- How it may help with anxiety: Cold and hot therapy provide physical relief from headaches and swelling. Also, the very act of placing a mask on your face, closing your eyes, and sitting back is calming and relaxing.
While a relaxing facial may not always be in the budget, this FOMI Facial Gel Bead Eye Mask is a more affordable alternative. Pop it into the microwave and use it to relax before bed, or even when taking a breather during the day.
You can also freeze the mask and use it to help relieve sinus pressure, muscle pain, and headaches.
Personal tip: You can do this on an even tighter budget by freezing a washcloth and placing it over your eyes. I do this for headaches frequently, and its so refreshing.
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How Can You Help Yourself
Stress is a natural reaction to many situations in life, such as work, family, relationships and money problems.
We mentioned earlier on that a moderate amount of stress can help us perform better in challenging situations,34 but too much or prolonged stress can lead to physical problems. This can include lower immunity levels,35 digestive and intestinal difficulties, e.g. irritable bowel syndrome ,36 or mental health problems such as depression.37 It is therefore important that we manage our stress and keep it at a healthy level to prevent long-term damage to our bodies and minds.
Get A Hug From A Loved One
Physical touch can do a lot to relieve your stress. Hugging a loved one can be especially beneficial.
When you hug someone, oxytocin is released. Oxytocin is associated with higher levels of happiness and lower levels of stress.
Oxytocin also causes a reduction in blood pressure. It reduces the stress hormone norepinephrine and can produce a sense of relaxation.
So don’t be afraid to ask a loved one for a hug if you need it. It’s good for both of you and it can be one of the simplest forms of stress relief available.
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What Happens When Cortisol Is High
Over the last 20 years, studies have increasingly revealed that moderate to high cortisol levels may lead to an array of health issues, such as :
- Chronic disease. Long-term increased cortisol may increase your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and other chronic diseases.
- Weight gain. Cortisol may increase appetite and signal the body to shift metabolism to store fat.
- Lack of energy/difficulty sleeping. It can interfere with sleep hormones which may impact sleep quality and length.
- Difficulty concentrating. Also referred to as brain fog, some people report trouble focusing and lack of mental clarity.
- Impaired immune system. Increased cortisol can hamper the immune system, making it more difficult to fight infections.
- Cushings syndrome. In rare cases, very high cortisol levels can lead to Cushings syndrome, a rare but serious disease.
Elevated cortisol levels can be caused from many underlying issues such as overactivity or cancer of the pituitary or adrenal glands, chronic stress, and medication side effects .
Further, existing chronic disease may lead to higher cortisol levels, causing a chicken or the egg type of scenario .
Therefore, its best to work with a qualified health professional to establish the root cause of your health issues. Along with this, you may want to introduce some effective lifestyle habits that may help you better manage your cortisol levels. Here are some recommendations:
The Dangers Of Excess Cortisol
Before we look at how to lower cortisol, lets take a look at why too much of it is so hazardous to your health and mental well-being.
When you face a potential threat or danger, your bodys stress response, often called the fight-or-flight response, is triggered.
First, the stress hormones norepinephrine and epinephrine are released in a quick burst.
They quickly dissipate after the stressful situation is over and dont hang around to do any damage.
That is followed by the release of cortisol.
” High levels of cortisol can kill brain cells by literally stimulating them to death.
When your life is one crisis after another, your body continuously pours out cortisol.
This leads to a chronically elevated cortisol level, and this has some serious health implications.
Dark chocolate, cocoa powder, and cacao nibs also act as prebiotics.
Lastly, be sure to drink plenty of water and other liquids.
Being dehydrated is a physical stressor that increases cortisol.
Start the Day Right
If you grab coffee and a donut for breakfast, youre setting yourself up for higher cortisol levels for the rest of the day.
Sugar triggers a boost of stress hormones that can last up to five hours.
And it can take anywhere from five to ten hours to metabolize half the caffeine you consume.
Regular caffeine consumption can more than double your blood cortisol level.
If you get your caffeine from coffee, soda, or energy drinks, you may want to switch to tea.
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How To Keep Stress Levels Down
ScheduleMost people know that they need to make adjustments in their life to bring down their stress levels however, it can seem like one more thing to do and so it doesnt get done. These five tips are ways for you to keep your stress level down in a way that is easily integrated into your life.
Meditate Mediation is one of the best and most effective ways to relieve stress and there is always time to mediate. Even a one-minute mediation can be extremely helpful. Take five minutes in the morning to close your eyes and sit still. If youre worried about your mind wandering, thats ok. Even the best meditation instructors admit to their mind wandering. The key is to notice that it has and come back to your mindfulness. If youre having a high stress moment in class or at work, head to the bathroom and close your eyes for a minute or two and take long deep breathes.
Know your schedule Your calendar should be your friend not your enemy. Take 30 minutes at the beginning of your week and schedule out your week. Schedule everything from your 5-minute morning mediation to meetings and class to studying or break periods. Once you have everything scheduled, live by this schedule. Of course, life happens, so youll adjust accordingly, but where you can, make it a non-negotiable that these are the things you are going to do at this set time. Youre going to quickly realize that you have more time than you thought you did when you follow this.
Facts + Tips About Anxiety To Bring Your Stress Levels Down
If a busy work life, money pressures and relationships sometimes leave you feeling stressed and anxious, you’re not alone.
Dr. Paul J. Rosch, the current Chairman of the Board of The American Institute of Stress has explained, ‘women are twice as likely to experience major depression than men. They are also up to three times more apt to suffer from anxiety disorders.’
So, take a look at these stats and facts to help you build a coping strategy for your day.
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Weird Breaks For Stress Relief
When you keep trying to apply the same solutions to old problems all you get is the same results. If you want to develop your emotional strength, you have to be a scientist. Experiment with many different solutions and notice what works and what doesnt. If the old solutions dont work, its time to try something new.
I recently wrote a guest post for Zen Habits, 6 Amazing Techniques to Staying Happy During a Stressful Project. The feedback was tremendous.
Out of all the techniques, the one that got the best response was Take a Weird Break. I wasnt expecting that.
Here is what I wrote:
Take a Weird Break
I often get mentally locked up because I cant focus on what is right before me. There are too many options. If I have to write an email, generate a report, and work on a marketing plan then I feel hot and cloudy. My overwhelmed mind just wants to shut down. I usually get up and take a weird break to clear my head.
During my break I do something a little weird like take a short walk and hang from a tree branch. I find that its tough to worry while hanging from a beautiful tree. Plus, my creativity almost always starts flowing again.
There are so many ways we can pull ourselves out of a stressful state if we just take a moment to be creative.
We have to find creative solutions to our ever evolving stress. I put together a list of 25 weird breaks we can use to improve our work happiness.
25 Weird Break Ideas
2. Call a friend who you havent talked to in over a year.
Incorporate Mother Nature Into Your Routine
Know that feeling when you take a leisurely stroll through a park or sit by the ocean and just get lost in the waves? Natures effects on general human health and well-being have been well-established, and there are a few specific ways you can enjoy some time with Mother Nature while also lowering your cortisol levels.
Lowering cortisol can prevent negative health effects, including hair loss and slow-growing hair. And while you can give your tresses some TLC via GRO Hair Serum or other hair wellness products, you should also find ways to reduce your stress through nature-centered activities, such as forest bathing.
You might have heard of forest bathing as a trendy new way to enjoy time with trees, but did you know that it is actually a Japanese tradition, known as shinrin-yoku, which has been enjoyed for decades? Shinrin-yoku literally translates to forest bath, and what better way to lower cortisol than bathing in the rich river of tranquility a forest provides.
Maybe forest bathing isn’t your thing, or you dont have regular access to one. No problem, because urban outdoor experiences, for even just 20 minutes three times per week, were shown to have a significant impact on cortisol levels. While youre at it, why not bring along your dog? Or have a cuddle with your cat when you get home. Pets remain a great way to relieve stress and lower your cortisol levels.
Get GROing: The GRO Complete Hair Kit
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Sleepless Nights Try Stress Relief Techniques
In a recent national survey, 44 percent of adults said stress had causedsleepless nights at least once in the previous month. All that tossing,turning and staring at the ceiling can leave you feeling tired andmore stressed the next day. If youre caught in this vicious cycle ofanxiety and insomnia, theres good news: Simple stress relief techniquescan help you sleep better and feel calmer.
More Stress Reduction Techniques And Activities That Lower Cortisol
Here are a few more stress reduction techniques and relaxing activities that have been shown to work, at least in part, by reducing cortisol.
A mind-body stress relief technique thats gaining in popularity is the Emotional Freedom Technique, usually referred to as tapping.
It works on the same principles as acupuncture, but no needles are involved.
Acupressure points are simply tapped with the fingertips.
This is a simple technique that anyone can learn to do on their own.
It takes only ten minutes to do a session of tapping.
Amazingly, just a single tapping session can slash cortisol levels and decrease the severity of stress symptoms by 50%.
Numerous studies support what most of us already know that getting a massage is profoundly relaxing.
A review of the current research on the benefits of massage found that a massage significantly reduces cortisol and increases the feel-good neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine by 28% and 31%, respectively.
I like to call lavender the Swiss army knife of essential oils because it does so many things.
Its relaxing properties are legendary and we now know that one of the ways it works is by reducing cortisol.
Interestingly, inhaling any scent good or bad affects cortisol levels.
Unpleasant smells increase cortisol while smells you find pleasant decrease it.
These synthetic fragrances are made of chemicals that can literally make you sick.
Spending Time in Nature
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Learn How Moving Your Body Helps Bring Your Stress Levels Down
Welcome back to the AskDrAnnika blog where I help stressed out business leaders reduce their stress, have more fun at work and get better health in general.
Today I want to talk about the third part of my formula for getting great energy levels using tools for stress management.
Im not going to be an activity nerd telling you to have all this heavy physical activity and workouts or whatever it is that you get in your mind that I might say something that you dont want to do so you dont want to hear about it.
Im not going to talk about those kind of things because this is not about being a nerd around physical activity. This is about getting what you really need and using what youve already got.
Stress management teaches us that when you are really stressed out you need a break. Your brain needs a break and physical activity is one of the tools that I use for that.
Its as easy as just standing up by your desk or walking around your desk or jumping up and down, or whatever you feel like doing, just move your body one way or the other and that will get rid of your stress hormones or reduce them at the very least. By doing this your thinking will be so much easier and you will solve whatever problems you have in a much easier way.
Like I said this is a wonder medicine!
Best Tips For Relieving Nighttime Stress
There are numerous strategies for relieving nighttime stress and anxiety before bedtime. If youre feeling too stressed to sleep, these approaches can help you relax. Some sleepers use only one or two of these relaxation strategies while others practice a combination of them. If stress and sleep are a chronic concern, your physician can help you determine what the best approach is for you.
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Nuts Are A Great Stress
Nuts are full of nutrients, including B vitamins, along with healthy fatty acids. Meyerowitz says B vitamins are an important part of a healthy diet and can help reduce stress. Almonds, pistachios, and walnuts may even help lower blood pressure levels. According to a past study, pistachios in particular can have a role in reducing stress levels. Just remember to limit servings to just a handful a day to avoid excess calories.
Nuts and seeds are also high in magnesium, and thats a plus, Figueroa says, because magnesium has been linked to better anxiety management. Findings from a review published in April 2017 in the journal Nutrients suggested that magnesium benefits individuals with mild to moderate levels of anxiety, but more trials are needed before making this treatment recommendation across the board.
Learn To Recognize Stressful Thinking
Paying attention to stressful thoughts may help you reduce them.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction is a strategy that involves becoming more self-aware of stress-provoking thoughts, accepting them without judgment or resistance, and allowing yourself the ability to process them .
Training yourself to be aware of your thoughts, breathing, heart rate, and other signs of tension helps you recognize stress when it begins .
Recognizing stressful thoughts allows you to formulate a conscious and deliberate reaction to them. For example, a study involving 43 women in a mindfulness-based program showed the ability to describe and articulate stress was linked to a lower cortisol response (
Tending to your own happiness can help keep cortisol down. If youre feeling stressed, try listening to music or making yourself laugh.
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Accept The Things You Can’t Change
Changing a difficult situation isn’t always possible. Try to concentrate on the things you do have control over.
“If your company is going under and is making redundancies, for example, there’s nothing you can do about it,” says Professor Cooper.
“In a situation like that, you need to focus on the things that you can control, such as looking for a new job.”