Chronic stress is an imminent part of today’s fast-paced culture. It’s estimated that stress is responsible for 75-90% of visits to primary physicians, either acutely or caused by chronic problems associated with stress. Working in excess of 40 hours per week more than doubles (2x!) your risk for obesity, depression and heart disease. Stress is a major player in many illnesses – from headaches to heart disease, insomnia, and immune deficiency to digestive issues.
How can stress cause such havoc to my body?
Stress-induced health problems are linked to production of excess stress hormones (cortisol and adrenalin) and decreased immunity.
Stress hormones lead to a cascade of events:
- Your muscles tighten
- Your heart begins to race
- Sugar is pumped into your blood stream to be used as energy
- Insulin is sent out to regulate your blood sugar
- Your body may break down muscle tissue to be used for energy
- Your blood vessels constrict, causing your blood pressure to go up
- Digestive and reproductive functions are slowed or suspended
Your body is ready to fight or flee. The issue with this picture is that in today’s world, the likelihood of chronic physical danger is pretty low. You are, however, faced with the very real stress of day-to-day life, such as packed schedules, stressful work environments, traffic, long work hours, and delicate balance of family, personal life and career. Chronic stress can cause excess hormone production and an imbalance, making weight loss nearly impossible.
Cortisol is one big player in the intricate system of hormone regulation. Cortisol is released from your adrenal glands – 2 tiny glands located at the top of your kidneys. The adrenals control your reproductive hormones, which are neuro-chemicals that regulate your stress response, immunity, blood pressure and SO much more.
Excess cortisol caused by persistent stress can:
- Eat up lean muscle tissue, making exercise goals difficult to meet
- Leads to unstable blood sugar levels, affecting your mood
- Imbalance of your hormones can affect your ability to reach a healthy body weight
- Weight gain around your waist and upper arms or face
- Increased inflammation leading to joint pain, muscle stiffness, and skin problems
Okay now that we have learned the facts, its time to find what we can do to change it. Everyone, its time to learn and master the art of chilling out!
Here are 5 ways to better manage stress:
- Learn to breathe deeply, and exhale fully. Next time you feel the rush of stress coming on, focus only on your breath for 5 breaths. Be in the moment and find a solution.
- Sleep. Your body CRAVES and RELIES on sleep in order to rejuvenate and repair. Just like how your phone needs to charge over night, your body needs deep and restful sleep in order to heal and regain energy. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), between the hours of 10 pm – 2 am, your liver is going through a process of repair. Getting to bed, or at least lying down and still by 10pm is CRUCIAL if you are looking to balance your hormones and shed pounds.
- Try yoga and get moving! Not only is yoga a dynamic way to move every muscle in your body, it also lowers your stress by having you focus on your body and breath, releasing tension and anxiety. If not yoga, find any type exercise you enjoy, and get moving! Last time I checked walking, jogging, squats, lunges, push-ups, and biking are all free 🙂
- Take a vacation, even if it’s a short one. Try to take some time away at least every few months, even if it’s only for a few days.
- Get a massage or a facial, take a nature walk, laugh with a loved one – take time to unwind, enjoy life and release stress.
5 healthy eating tips to help balance your adrenals and your thyroid:
- Eat every three to four hours including small balanced meals, smoothies, elixirs and fresh-pressed juices made up of whole foods, plenty of leafy greens and create a balance of complex carbohydrates, fat and protein.
- Eat a nourishing, healthy-fat rich snack around 3-4 pm to soften the natural dip in cortisol that tends to happen late morning & afternoon. Think veggies and guacamole / hummus.
- Reduce caffeine intake to 1 cup per day (or less) of coffee or black tea. Choose to substitute with thyroid supporting herbal teas such as Dandy Blend, nettle, ginseng, ashgawanda and dandelion root.
- Include rich sources of B-vitamins, which help in the production of many chemical messengers. Sources include: leafy greens, nuts and seeds, nettles, avocadoes and bananas.
If you want to learn more about how you can support your hormones, crush your cravings, sleep better, raise your energy levels, finally begin to understand your body systems, find a healthy body weight and feel AMAZING, check out my game-changing program The Hormone Project, which launches on March 13th. I only have 3 spots remaining, so if you’re thinking about joining, you should probably sign up ASAP.
Enjoy more simplicity and ease this Saturday and sleep tight,