Stress. It’s uncomfortable to talk about since we don’t often know how to prevent it. The truth is, no matter what your eating pattern looks like, how much you exercise and what supplements you take, if you’re not managing your stress, you’re still at risk for modern degenerative conditions like heart disease, diabetes, hypothyroidism and autoimmunity.
While the Kingfield coaches feel your pain, and we still find ourselves struggling with stress management at times, we’ve got to give some tough love here. If you’re not doing some form of regular stress management, you will sabotage all of your best efforts with nutrition, exercise and supplements. That's right - ALL. Stress management is absolutely crucial to optimal health and longevity.
So how does stress harm the body? The short answer is “in every way imaginable." When stress becomes chronic and prolonged, the adrenal glands release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is normally released in a specific rhythm throughout the day. It should be high in the mornings when you wake up, helping you get out of bed and start your day, and gradually taper off throughout the day so you feel tired at bedtime and can fall asleep.
Stress does not only increase absolute cortisol levels, but more importantly, it disrupts the natural cortisol rhythm. And it’s this broken rhythm that wreaks so much havoc on the body. The following is by no means an exhaustive list of the physiological effects of stress:
- raises your blood sugar
- weakens your immune system
- makes you hungry and crave sugar
- reduces your ability to burn fat
- reduces your DHEA, testosterone, growth hormone and TSH levels
- increases your belly fat
- causes depression, anxiety and mood imbalances
- contributes to cardiovascular disease
None of that sounds particularly good does it? So what can we do about it? There many ways you could reduce stress in your life. We've provided you with 5 easy, achievable options that you can do daily without breaking the bank on retail therapy or jetting off on a sun-soaked vacation (only to have it all waiting for you when you return). Try out a method or two (or all five!) each day for the next week and see how you feel. Are you sleeping better? Are your workouts better? Do you feel happier, more at ease? These will all contribute to a healthier, happier, fitter you. Try it out!
5 Ways to Reduce the Stress You Experience
Unplug for one hour a day. Turn off the cell phone, power down your computer.
Many people start their day and end their day meeting the needs of other people pulling at us via text messages, emails, work to-dos. Many people feel they are “on call” all the time. When we do this, we automatically shift our energy from ourselves to other people which can make us feel further out of touch and control. When we shift control to someone else, we invite stress by getting farther and farther away from feeling grounded in our own bodies.
Spend 5 minutes a day checking in with how you feel, what you want and what you really need.
Close your eyes and ask yourself this small questions. This is a powerful exercise. And if it stops you from spiraling into an anxiety trap or getting you to breathe deeply, that’s a win. You’ve mediated some of the effects of stress right there.
Step outside and look up. See that? Sunlight, sky, nature. Smell that? Fresh air.
Connecting with nature is one of the simplest ways to mediate stress. Instead of looking at your phone or focusing on your next to-do, look up at the sky and connect back with the present.
Write a list of 5 priorities for the day. One thing on your list must be an action of self-care.
Let’s face it, our to-do list will never be finished. Often times our sense of accomplishment is wrapped up in whether or not we have completed all the items on the list. Instead of having the one master to-do list running in our calendars and our heads, create a daily list of 5 things that can realistically get completed today, with one caveat: one thing must be an action that fills you up and energizes you. This can really be anything - exercise, connecting with a friend, being alone, meditating, reading, journaling.
Be kind to others.
Research shows that doing kind acts for other people increases our positive moods, increases relationship satisfaction and decreases social avoidance. Feeling connected to others and feeling generally better is a recipe for reduced stress. Try things like: over-tipping your waiter, babysitting for your neighbor’s kids while Mom takes a nap, paying the toll for the person in the car behind you or simply smiling and making eye contact with the people in the grocery store.
Go show off that #KingfieldStrong! Happy de-stressing!