Stress is the worst. We all understand it because we all feel it. It seems like we would have to move to outer space to avoid it (and that would have its own set of stresses)! Stress is a certainty in our lives. Although we all want to know how to reduce stress, we can’t control it to a large extent.
What we can control is how we react to and manage our stress. Doing this might help us learn how to reduce stress! And wouldn’t that be great? In addition to EPA-DHA supplements and supplements that are known to relieve stress, here’re some things to consider:
Blood-sugar balancing diet
All the outer-space travel in the world won’t do what a balanced diet can do for stress. When blood sugar (and its regulating hormone insulin) is going crazy because our diet consists of bread, coffee, and takeout food, the body signals the production of our stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is part of this vicious cycle that makes us crave bad foods. Then we eat them, pack on the pounds, and feel even more stressed. Diet is our best defense against this built-in mechanism by balancing our blood sugar.
Here’re some tips:
-Enjoy protein, fat, and fiber with every meal and snack
-Enjoy carbs like whole grains and starchy vegetables with dinner, keeping breakfast and lunch fat and protein-packed
-Drink lots of filtered water throughout the day
-Sprinkle cinnamon on food to increase insulin sensitivity
-Eat 3-4 cups of green vegetables daily (like broccoli, cabbage, spinach, romaine, and zucchini)
I rarely go a day without yoga. Yoga marries movement with breath, and that combination will help reduce stress hormones. Restorative and Yin styles of yoga are perfect for the super-stressed individual, and that is because they are slow-moving and turn our attention inwards. Restorative yoga is a fantastic source of Activity when we’re too stressed and tired to Activity, as it’s low-impact in most cases. That way, we won’t overtax our cortisol-producing adrenal glands like boot camps and long-distance running might.
Although it’s a sister practice to yoga in some ways, meditation can seem pretty scary. But the truth is, it doesn’t involve hours sitting in silence and having a monk-like lifestyle. Even 2 minutes of meditation per day can help us sort out how to reduce stress and anger. I meditate daily in the morning, sitting on a cushion on the floor for 5 minutes. That’s it! And guess what – I notice a massive difference in how my day goes.
The key is not to worry about thoughts that enter our head, just let them float on through and return to focusing on our inhales and exhales—perhaps counting them, if that keeps us more focused. If guided meditation is more achievable, we can even utilize a studio to walk us through the process.
Sleep is a powerful piece of the stress reduction puzzle. Like a corner or an edge piece, which helps bring it all together. Cortisol and other hormones become seriously imbalanced when we are chronically stressed. Many people experience the inability to fall asleep or wake during the night, or both. Sleep instability can even affect our weight management.
The easiest way to help regulate sleep and thus reduce feelings of stress is to stick to a schedule. Sometimes, this can be challenging, especially when it seems incredible to sleep until noon on weekends. Keeping a regular sleep-wake cycle will help reduce cortisol production, which can also help increase melatonin production, meaning better sleep. Getting to sleep around 10 pm is the best when we’re trying to reset our stress response. We can try going to bed one hour earlier for a week to see an immediate difference in our stress levels.
If you’ve seen any of my writings before, then you know I’m an herbal medicine fanatic. I first got introduced to herbs in university, and it was there I discovered that nettle leaves, when consumed as a tea, could help with my seasonal allergies.
I’m a researcher of herbs aimed at hormonal balance, mood balance, digestive balance, and stress reduction. For example, adaptogens are a class of herbs that help manage the body’s stress response and reduce chronic stress. Here’s a shortlist of some of my favorite medicinal herbs that will help us on our journey to learn how to reduce stress:
Holy Basil, also known as Tulsi: great as a tea, helpful in reducing the stress response and uplifting mood
Reishi Mushroom: an excellent herb for energy, immune system, and resistance to stress
Rhodiola: remarkable for physical and mental stress-related fatigue and relieving anxiety
Licorice Root: increases energy and endurance, a tremendous adrenal gland tonic (although best avoided for those of us who have high blood pressure)
Written by Robyn Srigley