6 Simple Ways to Reduce Stress

In the ever-busy modern world, life moves at an amazingly fast pace. And sometimes we get tangled up in what we’re doing, and we get stressed out because we can’t quite keep up. Wouldn’t life be so much easier without stress?

Unfortunately, stress is a part of life. And actually, stress can be good for you – on a moderate level. Stress helps improve cognitive function[1], it can motivate you to complete tasks quickly, can help boost your immune defense, makes you tougher, and research has shown it could have a positive effect on child development.[2] All that being said, chronic stress is a life killer, and should be avoided when possible.

So, what causes stress?

There are two parts to stress – the trigger, and the reaction. Triggers are things you encounter in life that may bring you fear/uncertainty, cause a big change, set unrealistic expectations, or irritate your perception of things. Examples of these could be financial problems, death of a loved one, having too much responsibility at work, and relationship issues.

The reaction is what happens in your body following the encounter of a trigger. According to WebMD,

“When you are in a stressful situation, your body launches a physical response. Your nervous system springs into action, releasing hormones that prepare you to either fight or take off. It's called the "fight or flight" response, and it's why, when you're in a stressful situation, you may notice that your heartbeat speeds up, your breathing gets faster, your muscles tense, and you start to sweat. This kind of stress is short-term and temporary (acute stress), and your body usually recovers quickly from it.”

But like we said, short-term stress, or stress in moderation, isn’t a bad thing. It’s the long-term stress, or chronic stress, that you have to avoid. Chronic stress happens when you are constantly in a state of stress – the “fight or flight” signal is always on and your brain doesn’t know what to do. When this happens, your body produces more cortisol than it needs, and the excess cortisol can damage your brain.

Studies have shown that chronic stress is a risk factor for serious illnesses, including depression, heart attacks, and fertility issues, and it can contribute to other health problems like low libido and insomnia.[3] Thankfully, there are options for obtaining stress relief!

 

6 Stress Reducing Tips

Practicing yoga at work for stress relief

It’s always good to have a couple options in your back pocket for dealing with stressful situations. Not only do we each function differently and have different needs, but circumstances around your stress may change. So, having a favorite go-to stress relief is good (especially when you know you can count on it), but having a back-up option could make all the difference. At the very least, knowing you’re prepared can make life less stressful.

 

  1. Mind-body practices. These include, but aren’t limited to yoga, meditation, practicing mindfulness, guided imagery, affirmations, and tai chi. These simple practices allow you to engage your mind and body to bring you back into the current moment and allow you to focus on what you can control. Stress is often caused by worrying about things in the future. Unless you can actively control or change that thing to your liking, there’s no point of stressing out about it until you absolutely must.
  2. Take a walk. Taking a walk allows you to enjoy a change of scene and break your focus away from the stressful event. Even something as simple as a lap around the office or a stroll around your neighborhood can put you in a different frame of mind and rejuvenate your mind (and body!).
  3. Engage in exercise. Just like taking a walk, exercise can break your focus away from the stressful event. But it does more than that. Exercise promotes blood circulation to the brain and influences the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis which is responsible for stress reactivity. Essentially, exercise reduces stress by improving self-esteem and cognitive function.[4]
  4. Eat a balanced diet. Some foods, like comfort foods, can increase serotonin levels. Others can decrease cortisol and adrenaline. Having a balanced diet can boost your immune defense and give your body an edge against stress. Check out these foods to help you decide what you can add to your diet.
  5. Reassess your to-do list. We all have a to-do list. Whether it’s a list of things that need to get done at work, or projects around the house, or simply a weekly list of chores – we all have one. Personally, I love lists! It’s really satisfying to cross things off. But they can also be stressful reminders of everything we haven’t completed. So. You have two options – throw it away OR trim it down. Your list should be a mixture of things that are REALLY important and small things that you can knock out in just a few minutes (task completion is definitely also a stress reliever).
    5b. And while we’re trimming our to-do lists, go ahead and look at those triggers that repeatedly cause you stress. It’s time to cut them out. If that means cutting that toxic person out of your life – DO IT.
  6. Use adaptogens to help your body defend against the harmful effects of stress and adapt a healthy stress response. Adaptogens helps support the HPA axis and help regulate the stress response. The easiest way to include them in your diet is through supplements like AdrenalStability™, which works quickly to address adrenal fatigue and promote energy, focus, and mood.*

 

5 Anti-Stress Herbs

Ashwagandha adaptogen herb

1. Ashwagandha has long been used in Ayurvedic tradition, for its refreshing and energizing properties. It’s an adaptogen that can calm the nervous system and boost immune defense, which can also promote a healthy stress response. Research has shown that ashwagandha effectively increases resistance to stress and improves quality of life.[5]

 

Ginseng supports healthy stress response

2. Ginseng is often praised for its anti-stress properties. It has long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties, but also as an antioxidant. Studies have shown that ginseng may help stabilize the nervous system response and improve cognition for people with high levels of stress. It does this by helping regulate hormonal changes due to stress.[6]

 

Rhodiola helps reduce anxiety and fatigue

3. Rhodiola, also know as the golden root, is an adaptogenic herb that has been used in traditional medicine in Russia and Europe for centuries. It is generally used to treat anxiety, fatigue, and depression. But it has also been shown to help people suffering from stress-related burnouts due to its influence on the release of stress hormones.[7]

 

Holy Basil adaptogen that helps reduce stress

4. Holy Basil, or Tulsi, is an adaptogen that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Not to be confused with the sweet cooking herb, holy basil has a long list of ailments it is known to help – like bronchitis, ringworms, diarrhea, eczema, and insect bites, etc.

Holy basil can help support the nervous system and boost cognitive function. It’s adaptogenic properties help calm the mind by helping the body adapt to and alleviate stress.

 

Reishi mushroom eases anxiety and promotes restful sleep

5. The Reishi mushroom is more commonly known for its immune defense boosting properties, but it can also help with stress. Reishi has been shown to improve the function of the adrenal glands, which in turn can help calm the mind, ease anxiety, promote sleep, and help your body adapt a resilience to stress over time.[8]

 

Stress SUCKS.

Stress ball to help relieve stress

But sometimes it’s unavoidable. And just because it’s inevitable, doesn’t mean it has to have a negative effect on your life. By using these tips and herbs, you’re already taking a step toward bettering your stress response and health.

And don’t forget, you never have to deal with stress alone. Reach out for help when you need it. There are plenty of good people who are willing to help others through stressful situations. We’re always stronger together!

 


 

Sources

[1] Kirby, Elizabeth D et al. “Acute stress enhances adult rat hippocampal neurogenesis and activation of newborn neurons via secreted astrocytic FGF2.” eLife vol. 2 e00362. 16 Apr. 2013, doi:10.7554/eLife.00362

[2] Mild maternal stress may actually help children mature. (2006, May 17)

jhsph.edu/news/news-releases/2006/dipietro-stress.html

[3] MedlinePlus. Stress and your health. Updated July 2, 2020.

[4] Sharma, Ashish et al. “Exercise for mental health.” Primary care companion to the Journal of clinical psychiatry vol. 8,2 (2006): 106. doi:10.4088/pcc.v08n0208a

[5] Chandrasekhar, K et al. “A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults.” Indian journal of psychological medicine vol. 34,3 (2012): 255-62. doi:10.4103/0253-7176.106022

[6] Baek JH, Heo JY, Fava M, et al. “Effect of Korean Red Ginseng in individuals exposed to high stress levels: a 6-week, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial.” J Ginseng Res. 2019;43(3):402-407. doi:10.1016/j.jgr.2018.03.001

[7] Kasper, Siegfried, and Angelika Dienel. “Multicenter, open-label, exploratory clinical trial with Rhodiola rosea extract in patients suffering from burnout symptoms.” Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment vol. 13 889-898. 22 Mar. 2017, doi:10.2147/NDT.S120113

[8] Winston D, S Maimes. Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief.  Healing Arts Press, 2007.

May 31, 2021

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