Stress. It’s something we all experience. Your coworker just doesn’t get it, and you have to work both of your jobs. Your partner has unrealistically high expectations from you. The list can go on and on with all of the stressors we face. But this doesn’t mean that we have to succumb and allow the cortisol to build up in our tissues and cause unnecessary damage to our health.
Cortisol and How to Manage It
I mentioned cortisol. What is it? Cortisol often called the stress hormone, is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It is necessary for the optimal function of our bodies as it helps regulate blood pressure, immune responses, manage metabolism and it helps with memory function. But when there’s too much in the body we can develop anxiety, depression, tumors, weight gain and more. So maintaining healthy cortisol levels is important to your quality of life.
Once your body has gone through a fight or flight cycle and can no longer keep up with the cortisol demand, you will notice the let down—heart palpitation, pain, fatigue, dizziness, to name a few. To help your body rid yourself of all the excess cortisol hanging around you can exercise, take a nap or have several really good, deep down in your soul kind of laughs.
5 Stress Busters
We’ve covered stress. We’ve covered cortisol. But what about stress management? I will be honest with you, it’s a lot easier said than done. To say, “Manage your stress by eliminating stressors,” is pointless. Eliminating stressors isn’t always realistic. When you can get rid of the things that cause you to stress, please do so. Sometimes it may take a little work. Like training your pet not to pee on your pillow every time you go to work. Or breaking up with someone who is not right for you.
Get more sunshine in your life
“Sunshine. Everybody loves the sunshine. Folks get down in the sunshine…” according to Roy Ayers, and I agree. Getting outside and letting the sunbathe my face and hands with its light is magical for me. We tend to spend a lot of time indoors under artificial light that isn’t stimulating our natural body functions, so it is important to make sure that we get some good old fashioned time in the sun. If you’re busy and the temperature isn’t too bad, try exercising, working, meditating or eating dinner outside. Doing must-do activities that you can do outside on a sunny day can help you cross off multiple tasks simultaneously.
Beginning a meditation practice can do a lot to alter your physiology. Taking deep and full breaths engage and restore your parasympathetic nervous system to help you calm down, metabolize stress hormones and have a moment that is all yours. You can meditate in silence, use a guided meditation, utilize healing crystals or try candle gazing. You can even try written meditation. Choose your notebook and write in it when you’re feeling stressed, write it down and let it go. The simple act of stopping what you are doing to clear your mind can do wonders. If you have a hard time remembering to take these small breaks throughout your day, put sticky notes around your desk or set reminders on your phones.
Do something that feels good every day
Every day that you are given is yours. You only need to accept it and make sure that you take time out every day to do something that makes you feel good. Whether it’s sipping a cup of tea or taking a walk through a garden. You Don’t have to justify what makes you happy to anyone, just make sure that you do it. When you are happy, you tend to be more prepared to handle the daily stressors that arise.
Daily exercise doesn’t have to mean going to the gym or attending a class, although it can if you want it to. Exercise is what you want it to be. If you like Zumba, do it. If yoga or pilates is your thing, do that. If you like working out to a HIIT video online at home or running around your neighborhood, that’s fine too. Your body just needs you to be active. Not only will you find that exercise can melt away your stress, but you will notice increased energy levels, better sleep and improved weight and muscle tone.
Eat a balanced diet
Diet has a lot to do with how our bodies operate. When we put good things into our bodies, we are more likely to get good things out of our body. In order to maintain optimum health, you want to eat vegetables, healthy fats, original grains, minerals, fiber, and protein. Moderation is the key to eating. Consuming too much of a good thing isn’t usually a good thing. Listen to what your body is telling you when you eat certain foods. If you’re unsure of how to listen to the signs, try keeping a food diary. Too many carbohydrates, refined sugars, and wheat can make us feel sluggish, fatigued and anxious.