Heres How To Get Stress And Anxiety Hormones Out Of Your Body
This weeks guest post is brought to by author and certified nutritionist Terry Givens. Terry is the author of the book Reset Your Body which details how you can reverse years of unhealthy living. To learn more about Terry and his series of detoxes visit Resetyourbody.com. Paul Dooley
In America, we, as a society tend to downplay the physical impacts of stress and anxiety. THEY ARE REAL! And they manifest into physical ailments just as easily as bacteria and viruses manifest into ailments. Believe it.
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.
If you get your caffeine from coffee, soda, or energy drinks, you may want to switch to tea.
Green tea contains about one-quarter the caffeine of coffee and it also contains two unique relaxing compounds, l-theanine and EGCG .
According to nutritional biochemist Shawn Talbott, PhD, author of The Cortisol Connection Diet, l-theanine is an amino acid that counteracts the cortisol-increasing tendency of caffeine.
EGCG has been found to be a potent inhibitor that blocks the formation of cortisol.
It also increases the relaxation neurotransmitter GABA.
If green tea isnt your favorite, you can get similar effects from black tea.
How To Lower Cortisol With Deep Breathing
When youre under stress, your chest gets tight and your breathing becomes fast and shallow.
These are automatic reactions that are part of the stress response.
Unfortunately, this unnatural breathing patterns has now become normal for most adults.
You can learn to minimize your physical reaction to stress by consciously breathing from your diaphragm.
A few minutes of diaphragmatic breathing will lower levels of cortisol and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to induce a state of calm.
To breathe from your diaphragm, focus on keeping your chest still while expanding your stomach.
You can place one hand on your chest and one on your stomach to monitor your breaths.
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Natural Ways To Reduce Your Stress Hormones
- Copy By:Josie Santi
Of course youd like reduce stress so you dont, you know, feel stressed out weve all had our days so busy that we start crying on the drive home, right? But theres also a scientific reason you should work on reducing those stress levels. Cortisol effects many things in your body, including blood pressure, inflammation, and managing how the body uses macronutrients . Too much cortisol not only makes you feel stressed, it also puts stress on your body, resulting in weight gain, fatigue, decreased immune system, and worse.
Working on reducing cortisol is not only a mental health issue, its a physical one, too. Everything from random weight gain/loss to your weird breakout to irregular periods to that unexplained reoccurring symptom could be explained by excessive cortisol. Instead of quick fixes or unhealthy stress reducers , here are easy, natural, healthy ways you can lower your cortisol levels every single day.
Develop A Positive Self
The way you talk to yourself matters. Harsh self-criticism, self-doubt, and catastrophic predictions aren’t helpful. If you’re constantly thinking things like, “I don’t have time for this,” and “I can’t stand this,” you’ll stress yourself out.
It’s important to learn to talk to yourself in a more realistic, compassionate manner. When you call yourself names or doubt your ability to succeed, reply with a kinder inner dialogue.
Positive self-talk can help you develop a healthier outlook. And an optimistic and compassionate conversation can help you manage your emotions and take positive action.
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Get A Good Nights Sleep
Sleep deprivation increases cortisol, particularly the evening after the lack of sleep has occurred. Cortisol is produced by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which is also responsible for regulating sleep cycles. If the HPA axis is activated by stress, illness, or poor nutrition, it can have a knock-on effect on your sleep and subsequent stress hormone levels.
The best way to ensure you get restful sleep is to incorporate good sleep hygiene. Make your bedroom a peaceful environment by limiting things that disrupt your sleep, like noise and light. Blackout curtains, an eye mask, earplugs, or a noise machine can help.
Introduce More Hops To Your Routine
Hops might be most well known as one of the main ingredients in beer, but the plant has also been used as an herbal remedy for stress for centuries.
Although hops doesn’t appear to lower cortisol levels directly, the bitter acids that give hops their signature taste have a calming effect that can help alleviate stress and the muscle tension that comes along with it.
In addition, hops can interact with the neurotransmitter GABA. GABA plays a role in brain signaling and nervous system activity and can contribute to an overall calming effect.*
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Reach Out And Touch Someone
The simple act of touching another person or being touched can ease your stress. James A. Coan, an assistant professor of psychology and a neuroscientist at the University of Virginia, recruited 16 women who felt they had strong support in their relationships. To simulate stress, he subjected each woman to a mild electric shock under three conditions, all while monitoring her brain. The shocks were administered in no particular order while the woman was 1) alone, 2) holding a strangers hand, and 3) holding her husbands hand.
Notably, both instances of hand-holding reduced the neural activity in areas of the womans brain associated with stress. But when the woman was holding her husbands hand, the effect was even greater, and it was particularly pronounced in women who had the highest marital-happiness scores. Holding a husbands hand during the electric shock resulted in a calming of the brain regions associated with pain similar to the effect brought about by use of a pain-relieving drug.
Coan says the study simulates how a supportive marriage and partnership gives the brain the opportunity to outsource some of its most difficult neural work. When someone holds your hand in a study or just shows that they are there for you by giving you a back rub, when youre in their presence, that becomes a cue that you dont have to regulate your negative emotion,
Listen To Music And Dance
Music is actually healing and can have a calming effect on the brain.
Numerous studies show that music can relax you, especially before a stressful event, by significantly lowering stress hormones. It can also reduce the spike in cortisol during the stressful situation .
Music can be even more relaxing when combined with non-strenuous dancing.
Regular dancing has also been shown to greatly decrease cortisol levels .
The book The Tapping Solution: A Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living goes in more depth about the practice.
Lastly, deep breathing exercises can help you manage your stress hormone levels.
Diaphragmatic breathing consciously breathing from your diaphragm has been shown to encourage the bodys natural relaxation response and reduce cortisol .
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Lifestyle Practice To Balance Cortisol
Daily stress management practice is another key to dealing with the psychological stress that raises cortisol.
Some stress management practices that have been shown to balance cortisol include:
- Meditation and many mindfulness-based practices have been shown to lower cortisol, increase resilience and feelings of wellbeing.
- Spiritual and religious practices like prayer can also help with stress management, especially in the face of difficult life circumstances.
- Exercise actually raises cortisol in the short term, which researchers theorize helps your body become more resilient, but overtime exercise can decrease stress .
- Deep breathing can also lower cortisol, greatest benefits seem to be achieved when you practice regularly.
- Regularly engaging in things you enjoy doing, like hobbies, has also been correlated with lower total cortisol.
How To Repair Cellular Damage From Years Of Anxiety And Stress
What can we do to bail out years of built up water from our boat at a hyper accelerated rate?What is a way to force your body to expel microscopic level hormone chemicals? Many of these chemicals have literally become PART of you. Your body has wrapped them in fat cells .
These chemicals have become part of your muscles, your organs, your body. Billions of these residual chemicals are even encased in old impacted fecal matter in your digestive tract.The only method that I am aware of that can clean and remove toxins at a CELLULAR level like that? Cleansing.
And more specifically, fasting. Yepno food for a while. What does not eating having ANYTHING to do with stress or anxiety or detoxing toxins? Why cant I just take some herbs, eat some vegetables and have the same detoxification? Ill tell you why.
Eating is very very expensive. And Im not talking about money. By far the MOST energy intensive task your body performs daily is digesting food. Think about it. Your body is magically taking in solid food, running it through a 30 foot digestive tract and 24 hours later is excreting the same amount of mass that you ate BUT somehow it has pulled some magical, invisible, weightless energy from it, enough to change your mood and performance in seconds
No drug can do that. No special super food and do it to that level. No exercise will have such microscopic precision. You need a 5 to 10 day fasting type cleanse to produce those kinds of results.
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How To Eat To Beat Stress
Whats the No. 1 thing you can do to get your hormones in balance and keep stress hormones in check?
I consider breaking up with sugar one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself, Dr. Cabeca says.
Here are some other tips she shares:
Practice Intermittent Fasting
There are many benefits of intermittent fasting, and that includes helping manage stress. Going without food for an extended period of time puts the body in ketosis, switching from using glucose to fuel the brain to ketones as brain fuel.
Always try to keep at least four hours between meals because you need to get your body sensitized to glucose again and to insulin again and shift to using ketones for fuel, says Dr. Cabeca.
Follow a Green Keto Diet
There are many ways to do keto. Whats going to create the best metabolic stability, the best hormone balance? Through my own experience with keto thats where I discovered how important the green aspect is, Dr. Cabeca says.
Monitor Urine pH Levels
According to Dr. Cabeca, urine pH levels can show how well were managing stress.
Its as important as our blood pressure, as important as our heart rate, as important as our weight, she says. The more cortisol we secrete, the more acidic our urine pH is. Even vegan, plant-based eaters can be acidic if theyre stressed, if theyre worried, if they are inflamed, if they have too much carbs in their system.
Pinpoint Outside Stressors
Dont Eat Too Late
Ways To Beat Your Stress Hormone
Poor cortisol: It means well but just doesn’t know when to quit. Produced by your adrenal glands, this “stress hormone” helps regulate blood pressure and the immune system during a sudden crisis, whether a physical attack or an emotional setback. This helps you to tap into your energy reserves and increases your ability to fight off infection.
Trouble is, relentless stress can keep this survival mechanism churning in high gear, subverting the hormone’s good intentions. Chronically high cortisol levels can cause sleep problems, a depressed immune response, blood sugar abnormalities, and even abdominal weight gain. “When cortisol spikes, it tells the body to eat something with a lot of caloriesa great survival tactic if you need energy to flee a predator but not if you’re fretting over how to pay bills,” says nutritional biochemist Shawn Talbott, PhD, author of The Cortisol Connection.
Fortunately, an antidote to the body’s fight-or-flight mode has evolved: the relaxation response. Here are eight surprising ways to invoke stress managementand in some cases, cut your cortisol levels almost in half.
To Cut Cortisol 20%…Say “Om”People who practiced Buddhist meditation significantly decreased both cortisol and blood pressure in a 6-week Thai study. Similarly, participants who meditated daily for four months decreased the hormone by an average of 20% in a study at Maharishi University, while levels in the nonmeditating control group actually went up slightly.
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Stress And Your Appetite
Stress can have a huge impact on your eating habits. During acute stress , the stress response can shut down appetite. The fight-or-flight response is designed to suppress hunger you wont be effective in battle or run that fast if you are thinking about food. But chronic stress has the opposite effect. Repeated doses of cortisol in your body due to high stress can lead to an increase in appetite.
According to the Harvard Health Letter, gender can play a role in how you eat during times of stress. Some research suggests women are more likely overeat due to stress while men turn to alcohol or smoking.
And the reality is that food really can make you feel better during times of stress. So-called comfort food like chocolate cake and ice cream literally blunt the bodys response to chronic stress. The problem with continuing to self-medicate chronic stress with comfort foods is that it will lead to weight gain and poor health.
Just as you need to reframe your view of stress and exercise and meditate to give your body a break from stress, you can also adopt strategies to use food to help you better cope with stress.
Smile Like You Mean It
Dont roll your eyes the next time someone advises you to grin and bear it. In times of tension, keeping a smile on your face especially a genuine smile thats formed by the muscles around your eyes as well as your mouth reduces your bodys stress responses, even if you dont feel happy. Smiling also helps lower heart rates faster once your stressful situation ends.
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Your Fitness Levels And Weight Loss Goals
Fitness trainer and exercise expert Jane Wake helps to explain the link between hormones and exercise
Hormones can have a significant effect on our bodies. One factor many of us are not aware of is how, at different times in our cycle, hormones can affect our fitness and/or ability to train in particular – here’s how they work against your workouts at key life stages:
Pre-menstrual and pregnancy
If you are in your 20s, 30s and have no kids, then commonly your monthly cycle will be your biggest hormonal indicator when it comes to your fitness. The hormones progesterone and estrogen for example rise when you are pre-menstrual. Research done on female athletes with knee injuries has demonstrated that there is a significantly higher incident of injury during this stage.
Its commonly known that the hormone relaxin, which surges in women during pregnancy, causes joints to release and become unstable. What’s less known is that progesterone can have the same effect and while this is not nearly as high an effect as that experienced by women during pregnancy, if you train a lot, you are undoubtedly more susceptible.
Perimenopause and menopause
High Blood Pressure And Heart Disease
According to the American Heart Association, stress can have serious long-term health consequences.
When your stress response activates, your heart rate is higher than normal. This is not a problem if it only lasts a short time. But when your everyday life is characterized by stress, it can put pressure on your heart.
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How To Relieve Stress
Sometimes life is just plain stressful. Maybe youre on a tight deadline at work or you or someone in your family is having health problems or maybe both are happening at the same time and it feels like youre juggling 100 things at once. No matter the circumstances, youre likely wondering how to relieve stress so you can lead a more peaceful and healthy life.
While its not always possible to control everything that is happening to us or around us, it is possible to change the way we relate to those things that are happening. Softening the way we perceive stress and relating to it in a more accepting way is the first trick for how to deal with stressful feelings.
Below, weve listed stress reduction techniques that will put you on a path towards acceptance and help you reframe overwhelming situations. But first, lets go over whats happening to your body and mind when youre stressed out.
How To Reduce Cortisol Naturally
Dr. Lin stresses that a big-picture approach is key to maintaining healthy cortisol levels and feeling less stressed. These go-to strategies are good for the body and the mind.
Exercise benefits health from head to toe. So its no surprise that it helps with stress relief, too, possibly by reducing cortisol levels. Studies show, for instance, that exercise can bring down cortisol levels in the elderly and in people with major depressive disorder.
Almost nothing beats a good nights sleep. When youre not sleeping well, you tend to be more anxious, irritable and stressed, Dr. Lin says. Like exercise, sleep is important for health in all sorts of ways including managing stress and keeping cortisol in check.
Sleep deprivation may increase cortisol levels. The increased cortisol can impair memory, contribute to weight gain and even accelerate the aging process. In other words: Dont skimp on shut-eye.
Spending time in the great outdoors is a great way to lower cortisol and calm your brain. The practice of forest bathing essentially, hanging out in the woods and breathing the forest air can reduce cortisol levels and lower stress.
When it comes to de-stressing, cortisol is just one piece of the puzzle, Dr. Lin adds. No one food or pill can deliver you to blissful calm. But healthy choices can set your body up for low-stress success.
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