Stress Management Tips To Get You Started
Now that you know the effects of stress on your hormones, I hope you are motivated to do something about it. I know it can be difficult to climb off the merry-go-round stress cycle, especially if youve been on it for years. Here are some ideas to help you head in the right direction, instead of spinning in circles forever:
Avoid Sugar and Carbohydrates
Insulin is a key player in regulating hormones, and loading up on carbohydrates and sugar is the one of the quickest ways to throw your balance off. During stressful times, its easy to grab whatever is nearby to eat, so take the time to prepare healthy options especially if you wont be able to leave your office all day. Keep nuts in your desk drawer instead of a candy bar, and pack a healthy lunch that includes protein so you wont be tempted by the nearest take out restaurant or food truck.
Address Emotional Issues
Commune with Nature
If youre already pressed for time, a new intense workout regime isnt going to calm you down. Trying to force yourself to do something you hate, or squeeze one more thing into an already jam packed schedule is likely to increase your stress levels, not lower them. But physical activity is important for stress reduction, and you dont have to do a lot to reap the benefits. Slow yourself down by practicing five to ten minutes of yoga or tai chi when you first get up, or just before bed. You might find you enjoy it so much you want to do more.
Fish Can Boost Your Heart Health While Fending Off Stress
Fight stress and help prevent heart disease by adding seafood to your plate. Fatty fish in particular are a great option because theyre heart-healthy, and their omega-3s may help ease depression because the nutrients easily interact with mood-related brain molecules, according to the Harvard Health Blog. Fatty fish include tuna, halibut, salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, and lake trout, according to the American Heart Association.
Not a fish fan? There are other whole-food options, like seaweed, chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, and fortified food, such as certain brands of eggs, milk, soy milk, and nut milk. You can also try omega-3 supplements in the form of fish oil, which can be found at your local drugstore or grocery store. The Harvard Health Blog noted theyre tied to a lower risk for heart disease and stroke.
Figueroa says fish oil is fine if youre not eating a balanced diet that is rich in omega-3s and includes eating fish at least twice a week. But she cautions that its important to check with your doctor or registered dietitian before beginning a supplement routine, so you can figure out the best brand and dosage for your health goals.
Get The Right Amount Of Sleep
Prioritizing your sleep may be an effective way to reduce cortisol levels. Chronic sleep issues such as obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, or shift work have been associated with higher cortisol .
One review of 28 studies in shift workers found that cortisol levels were higher in workers who slept during the day rather than at night .
Those on rotating shifts have been linked with poorer health outcomes, such as obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and worsened mental health (
Practicing good sleep hygiene can help to keep cortisol in a normal rhythm. Keeping a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine 6 hours before bed, and staying off your cell phone right before bed are effective strategies.
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Learn To Avoid Procrastination
Another way to take control of your stress is to stay on top of your priorities and stop procrastinating.
Procrastination can lead you to act reactively, leaving you scrambling to catch up. This can cause stress, which negatively affects your health and sleep quality .
Get in the habit of making a to-do list organized by priority. Give yourself realistic deadlines and work your way down the list.
Work on the things that need to get done today and give yourself chunks of uninterrupted time, as switching between tasks or multitasking can be stressful itself.
Prioritize what needs to get done and make time for it. Staying on top of your to-do list can help ward off procrastination-related stress.
Yoga has become a popular method of stress relief and exercise among all age groups.
While yoga styles differ, most share a common goal to join your body and mind.
Yoga primarily does this by increasing body and breath awareness.
Some studies have examined yogas effect on mental health. Overall, research has found that yoga can enhance mood and may even be as effective as antidepressant drugs at treating depression and anxiety .
However, many of these studies are limited, and there are still questions about how yoga works to achieve stress reduction.
In general, the benefit of yoga for stress and anxiety seems to be related to its effect on your nervous system and stress response.
Stress Hormones: How Diet Affects Hormonal Balance
Stress is a major issue literally everyone deals with in way or another, and chronic stress is a problem like never before. Thats why its so vital to keep your stress hormones in check.
In a podcast episode with Dr. Anna Cabeca, DO, FACOG, I talked with the board-certified gynecologist and obstetrician, hormonal health expert, and best-selling author of books like The Hormone Fix and Keto Green 16 about some of the major stress hormones and how to eat to beat stress.
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Spend Time With Friends And Family
Even if you dont feel like talking about whats causing you stress, spending time with friends and family can help take the edge off. Friends and family might be the people closest to you, and so they may also be the ones who you need to put the least effort into interacting with.
This may even help create a rehabilitative environment for you, distracting you from whats causing you to stress and giving your mind a break. Support from friends and family can also undoubtedly go a long way in getting you through the toughest of times.
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.
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How Diet Affects Hormones
What are the biggest things in terms of diet that are really throwing our hormones out of whack today?
Definitely its sugar, Dr. Cabeca says. The brain fog, the memory loss, the increased risk of dementia all of that coming into a diet that is too high in sugar and creates insulin resistance so we have a harder time using the glucose that we do have.
The second thing is actually a practice thats so hormonally disruptive to women and men, and that is snacking throughout the day. Three meals, three snacks how did that ever come about?
The snacking habit can wreak havoc on stress because of the way it affects stress hormones. When we snack, it bumps up insulin, which affects the rest of our hormones, and insulin goes up every time we eat. Thus, the more we snack, the more insulin goes up, helping create insulin resistance.
It also creates a roller coaster for hormonal balance, with large fluctuations affecting everything from our moods to gut health and, yes, stress levels.
Chronic Stress Causes Fatigue By Suppressing Your Immune System
One of the other ways that chronic stress can be damaging is through lowering immune function.
While many people think that whenever they get sick, it is because they caught something from someone else some new bug that is going around that is actually not the case most of the time.
Our bodies are full of all sorts of potentially disease-causing germs all the time. In other words, the bugs are usually already inside of us!
When we are healthy and our immune system is functioning well, it keeps these bugs at bay.
But when our immunity is weakened, our bodies become susceptible to these invaders taking hold. . Thus, one of the big problems with chronic stress is that it chronically suppresses immune function.
This can lead to getting new infections as well as reactivation of old latent viruses in your system. When that happens regularly, the body is being chronically overtaxed and is suffering chronic oxidative damage in the cells.
Many types of viruses also specifically attack the mitochondria , thus causing a big hit to our cells ability to produce energy. .
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Stress May Make Your Emotions Harder To Control
You may be fairly patient by nature, but it still wont take much to make you lose your cool when stressed. According to neuroscientists, it takes only mild levels of stress to make emotions harder to control. Factors like fear and anxiety that youd otherwise have a good grip on can become harder to control even with mild stress.
In 2013, an experiment tested the ability of participants to control their emotions under a mild stress factor having their hands dipped in ice water. The simple action made it harder for participants to calm themselves down when concurrently shown pictures of snakes and spiders.
If you dont learn how to release stress, theres even a chance that you may develop an emotional disorder like depression, which can result from chronic, untreated stress. The other emotional effects of stress include the inability to control anger, which may inadvertently lead to strained relationships at work and at home.
As your mind becomes muddled with anxiety and other emotions, you may also experience problems with concentration and memory.
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.
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Figure Out Your Stress Triggers
Stress and cortisol are closely interlinked. A stressor is any stimuli that causes anxiety or stress. It can be something physical or psychological, like a threat to your safety or an unexpected change to your environment. It could also be pain, financial worries, relationship issues, or work-related problems.
When your body is exposed to stress, cortisol is released to keep the body on high alert and can even provide much needed energy, an important factor in the fight or flight response. Therefore, stressful situations increase cortisol production.
Understanding your own triggers is vital if you want lower cortisol levels. Keep a journal to record stressful situations. You dont have to go into detail, but make a note of what happened and consider why it made you feel bad.
You can use this information to find practical ways of managing these situations. For example, stepping away from arguments, learning to say no to extra work, and avoiding unnecessary triggers are good places to start.
What Are The Symptoms Of High
Normally, your stress hormones go down and return to baseline levels as soon as your brain and body acknowledge that a threat has passed. The problem is when your body canât stop producing an excess flow of stress hormones, causing a constant state of stress.
Chronic stress is becoming more common, and it can lead to some severe health effects when stress reduction practices arenât implemented. Remember, the fight-or-flight response is meant for your immediate survival, which means it reduces the functions of things considered unnecessary at the moment and reroutes energy to other parts of the body. When that becomes a constant state, certain processes and functions can deteriorate .
Symptoms of consistently high stress hormones may include:
- Anxiety or depression
- Pain and tension in the muscles
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How To Reduce Cortisol: Take The Next Step
Chronic stress leads to the continual release of the stress hormone cortisol.
And a chronically elevated cortisol level is very harmful to both your physical and mental health.
Fortunately, you can moderate cortisol production with healthy lifestyle adjustments.
Eating the right foods, getting a moderate amount of exercise, breathing properly, and employing stress reduction techniques like meditation and tapping can offset the damaging effects of cortisol and decrease its production.
Additionally, you can take cortisol-lowering supplements.
Its easy to get caught up in aspects of life that stress you out work, money, relationships, and health issues, to name a few.
Give yourself permission to have fun!
Engage in activities like hanging out with friends, playing with your pet, and enjoying art, music, and creative hobbies that feed your spirit and make you happy.
Talk To Others: A Professional Family Or Friends:
While it is nice to have friends and family that listen to you talk about your stressors and how you are trying to cope, a neutral third party like a counsellor, therapist, or social worker can help you process why you are feeling the way you are, and give you some tips on how to cope. Talking with a professional provides a safe space to work through life challenges. Even if you dont feel like you are in crisis, it could be helpful to talk to someone.
Consider talking to a professional counselor if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, fatiqued, or disproportionately angry. Therapy may also help if you often feel afraid of people or public spaces, experience anxious or intrusive thoughts, apathy or lack of interest in the world around you. If you are experiencing hopelessness or social withdrawal, talking to a counselor may also be greatly beneficial to you.
Here are some options of whom to call:
Western Montana Mental Health Center offers online/phone therapy from the comfort of your home. Call 556-6500 to schedule or for any questions.
Summit Therapy Center PC offers in-person and telehealth counseling services in both Spanish and English at 547 South 20th Street W, Suite 5, Billings MT. Call 406-272-2606 to schedule or for any questions.
Human Development Clinic- MSU offers telehealth counseling services for individuals living across Montana. Call 994-4113 to schedule or for any questions.
Family and friends
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Pay Attention To Sleep
Some people have a hard time going to sleep even at night, because of too much stress or worry. Sometimes, such worry or stress leads to sleep disorders. On the other hand, a sleep disorder may come first, and result in anxiety in the long run. Having said that, research has found out that sleep deprivation may contribute to the aggravations of anxiety.
Moreover, a lack of sleep also increases your risk of developing heart disease or heart failure. Some may also increase their risk of having high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, and irregular heartbeat. These are just some of the reasons why you should pay attention to your sleep pattern.
On a much deeper view, disrupted sleep is almost present in other mental health issues like depression, affecting your daily living. For instance, it can negatively impact your work performance, academic performance, cognitive ability, and increases the risk of physical injury. Surely, these health problems that may arise in the future may create additional worries. Therefore, it is better to take care of your sleeping pattern as early as possible.
Citrus Fruits And Strawberries Contain Vitamin C Which Help Fight Stress
Some studies have found that high levels of vitamin C may help ease stress levels. One double-blind study, published January 2015 in the Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences, reported that vitamin C reduced stress levels in participants taking 500 mg per day, and also pointed to possible anxiety prevention. Another study, published in November 2013 in the Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences, looked at vitamin C and vitamin E and found a significant decrease in anxiety levels in the vitamin C group compared with other groups. Eating fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and strawberries is a good place to start.
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