16 Ways to Reduce Stress and Build Resilience
Has Chronic Stress become common these days…?
It is not only common, it has been amplified. The research shows that 60% of women suffer from anxiety and depression. I am sure that many men do to however they are often reluctant to seek help.
For many being stressed, anxious, depressed, irritable, addicted to caffeine, and constantly craving salty or sugary foods seems like normal human behavior. Now let’s add in concern for our safety. Common yes. Normal no. If you want to skip ahead to the my 16 tips to reduce stress … please do so.
As you know from my previous posts I am very very concerned about the Ripple Effect these times will have on the future. While we think that we are weathering the storm the After is when more serious health and mental issues show up. For some old injuries and old wounds have already began to re-surface.
Yep I have my hand up… moving twice during these times has definitely had an effect. I am good most of the time but I am a little on edge. I literally jump out of my skin if my hubs sneaks up behind me… Like really jump out of my skin.
Negative Thoughts Feed Stress
The average person has approximately 60,000 thoughts every day, and although that seems like a lot, Stanford researcher Dr. Fred Luskin has found that a staggering 90% of those thoughts are repetitive. Think about that: 9 out of 10 of your thoughts are ones you have over and over again. What’s worse, for many, these thoughts are not only repetitive, but negative. We worry ourselves sick.
Now, let’s throw in a time in history that we have never seen before into the mix. Then add in all the physical distancing, conflicting messages that change daily and too much stimulation from Social and other kinds of media… Whew… Not a recipe for great long term health unless we take proactive measures.
Short version: Stress is bad for you! But for most of us, so much of our day is wrapped up in the sublime storm of unconscious, repetitive thought that we don’t even notice how actively we are also feeding our stress.
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Not to stress you out further, but I wanted to provide well researched reasons why you should consider managing your Reduce Stress and Build Resilience can reduce the RIPPLE EFFECT.
9 Ways Stress Can Impact Your Health
1. Your brain on stress
Stress triggers a chain reaction in your brain, research has shown an association between chronic stress and increased risk of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and even dementia.
2. Your weight on stress
When gaining weight keeps getting easier but losing it keeps getting harder, the culprit may be stress. It has already been proven. 76% of people gained 16 pounds over the last 4 months … from poor diet and when you’re stressed, your body holds on to fat as an emergency resources, which can make weight loss feel nearly impossible.
3. Your immune system on stress
As discussed earlier under stress those autoimmune conditions and childhood trauma have noticed their health declining or experience symptom flares during a stressful life event. Again the is the famous Ripple Effect.
4. Your thyroid on stress
The thyroid gland is particularly sensitive to stress in multiple ways. For example, some studies suggest that stress decreases your conversion from T4 (inactive) to T3 (active) leading to what we call Reverse T3. If you have thyroid issues or suspect that you do I recommend you get a full panel to access the current status.
5. Your gastrointestinal system on stress
The gut is often called the second brain because of the direct connection between these two systems. For example, the gut contains 95% (9) of the mood-boosting neurotransmitter serotonin. If your Gut is unhappy so are you.
You might have also have some symptoms like Gas, Bloating and Bowel changes. Under stress there is a repressed signal the Stomach and other organs like the Gall Bladder and Pancreas to release enzymes and HCL to digest food.
6. Your heart on stress
We know that stress causes Blood Pressure to rise, Cholesterol to increase and is an important risk factor for metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions – like high triglycerides (a fat found in the blood) and high blood sugar – that raise your risk of heart disease and other health problems.
7. Your eyes and ears on stress
Have you ever noticed your eyelid twitching? Chronic stress can lead to eyelid twitching and spasms, as well as being linked to ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and inner-ear-related vertigo, both of which can be debilitating.
8. Your adrenal glands on stress
We talked earlier about the Ripple Effect and how it can become a vicious cycle wherein the brain becomes hard-wired to remain in a constant state of fight-or-flight. I know that when I was young I was conditioned to be a tough little soldier and over time that lead to early burnout. Many of you know that is why I was led to Yoga, Meditation and subsequently the wellness journey.
9. Aging and stress
Who feels like they have aged a few years during this time? Well you probably have. Chronic stress has an effect on Mitochondria and increases Oxidative stress.
Here is the good news you can end the cycle of stress. Just as I help my patients detox and reset their physical bodies, I also discuss chronic stressors that raise their blood pressure and blood sugar and wreck their health.
16 Ways to Reduce Stress and Build Resilience
Most of you know all the things you can do to reduce Stress. This is just a friendly Reminder of what you already know. Seriously though… for your future self, take these steps now to help you build resilience and immunity for what lies ahead. As you know it takes consistent positive behaviors to help us reduce our fears, feel safe and above all calm.
1. Reduce Screen Time.
Create a family code word that means “Put down the device and be present”
2. Enforce phone-free time.
You don’t need to respond this second
Resist the new (disturbing) cultural norm that pressures us to be always instantly available, at the expense of the actual people and world around us. You can answer that email or respond to that text later. They can wait.
3. Find a better way to start and end your day
What is the first thing you do in the morning, and the last thing you do at night? For many people, that has become mindlessly checking Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Instead, try bookending your day with a walk outside, yoga, or meditation. Or an actual book and end it with some quiet time or a soothing bath.
4. Make one day a Nature Day.
Hike, Swim, Walk, Garden etc. You know from IG that being in Nature feeds my soul and calms me.
5. A clean, sustainable life has been shown to reduce stress
Declutter your life and clothes. Look around at what fills up your house. For me my Home has always been my safe and happy place so I want it to be functional and yet feel like a sanctuary. My secret sauce is that I am really good at up-cycling, so I don’t have to buy new to have a fresh look.
6. Make Sleep a priority.
Our circadian rhythms are tied to our cortisol rhythms. If you find yourself staying up late and getting up later than you usually do, because you are now WFH. Check in with yourself and rewind the clock to help reset.
7. Leave your work at work
This is much harder now that so many of us are WFH. Even if you are only going from one room to another create a mini ritual to set a signal that your work day has ended. I like to go for a quick walk around the block to reset, get fresh air and get the blood moving.n
8. Choose a colorful Nutrient Rich Diet.
No matter what diet you subscribe to we can all eat a more colorful, low carb, high fiber diet full of Veggies and Green leaves.
9. Take a nap or meditate
You lay down or sit in a chair and shut your eyes for 20 minutes. Doing this can ease a racing mind and give yourself a few minutes to breathe and recalibrate.
When it comes to mental health support, exercise is king. Just like meditation, studies have shown that exercise can lead to improvements in anxiety and depression. The key is not to over train or push especially if you are under a lot of stress. Think about Moving… not training. Perhaps Dancing is your jam. Movement is one of the best ways to Reduce Stress and Build Resilience
Writing down your thoughts can be an extremely effective way to reduce stress and support healing. If you’re not sure where to start, grab a notebook and write a list of things in your life that you’re grateful for. Gratitude has also been shown to reduce stress and improve mental health.
12. Laugh and Sing
Laughing is therapeutic in and of itself, so listening to a comedy special or watching a funny movie is therapeutic and it also stimulates the Vagus nerve. Same with singing. Singing is one of the most underrated mindfulness practices. So go ahead and blast your favorite playlist to and sing to your hearts content.
13. Being Present in the Moment
Let the present moment of what ever you are doing be a meditation exercise, like the Zen monks who consider washing dishes to be a meditation. Fully accepting the task instead of mentally fighting against it decreases stress and can help bring you inner peace.
14. Breathe consciously throughout the day.
Under stressful conditions, breathing get shallower, which only feeds anxiety. We did a blog not long ago on a great technique called Box Breathing. Here is the link if you want to know more.
15. Don’t snack or over eat yourself into stress.
It is very easy to wander from you at home office and into the kitchen and grab a snack. Don’t do it. Snacking is rarely about hunger. It is more often about boredom or blood sugar swings which is stressful.
16. Go positive and be choosy who you spend time.
The people you spend most of your time with will either build you up or feed into negative thoughts. Keep your distance from these “energy vampires,” who are constantly negative or make every conversation about themselves and drain you of your positivity. Love them from a healthy distance.
These simple tools, practiced regularly, can make a meaningful difference in your efforts to create a sense of calm that will carry you through your workday with less stress. I hope that you found this little reminder useful and easy to implement so that you can Reduce Stress and Build Resilience.
If you need more and and want to dig a little deeper consider looking into healing your hormones from years of past stress. Functional Holistic Nutrition can help uncover underlying problems. From there we can build the program and design the path that is right for you.
Have a healthy and calm week