There’s a lot of health advice out there, and sometimes it feels impossible to keep up with the latest research and sift through what really works and what’s just BS. So, we’re going to make it super simple and give you the only health advice you’ll ever need: lower your stress levels.
Let us explain.
Stress is a natural response that is activated in the brain and has a very powerful impact on your well being. Although a jolt of occasional stress can help you perform well on an exam or push you to accomplish a big goal, being stressed all day every day can be detrimental. And the crazy thing is that most Americans spend the majority of their lives stressed the fuck out. In fact, 75%-90% of all doctor's office visits are related to conditions caused by stress.
Let’s be honest - stress sucks. It’s physically and emotionally exhausting, and can leave you feeling helpless. It weakens your immune system, making you more susceptible to airborne illnesses like the common cold, and in the long run, it puts you at a greater risk of developing heart disease, depression, and gastrointestinal problems, to name a few. Aka stress is killing us!
Alright, so what can we do about this?
Inevitably, there are stressful things in life we cannot control, but what we can control is how we react to those stressors. The very cool thing about the human body is that is actually designed to experience and handle stress, so there’s no need to overthink stress reduction. By finding simple and natural ways to lower stress levels, we can shift ourselves into a healthier pattern and reduce stress. Here are a few suggestions that you can implement today!
Have a Sweat Sesh
Exercise is at the top stress-reducing list for a reason - It works. Regular, moderate exercise such as walking, swimming, yoga or running all have stress-reducing benefits, as exercise releases endorphins - the body’s built in painkillers and mood-lifters. And if you’re more of a CrossFit gal, then you go girl! And if you’re not someone who hates going to the gym, you don't have to! Maybe salsa dancing lessons is more your jam. As long as you get moving and break a sweat, you’ll notice a decrease in stress and anxiety, better sleep, and an increase in self-confidence.
Bonus Points for Taking Your Workout Outside!
Uplevel your stress-fighting game by taking your workout outside! Hiking, trail running, and biking are all great ways to get out and get moving simultaneously. But just being outside at all can relieve stress and anxiety and boost happiness. Ever heard of ecotherapy, forest bathing, or the wilderness cure? All of these mood-boosting techniques were designed to get you outside so you can soak up some fresh air and Vitamin D. Being outdoors is also connected to longevity. It reminds us that we’re a piece of a much larger universe, which gives you a sense of belonging and lifts your mood. Humans evolved in the great outdoors, so our brains benefit so much from a journey back to nature.
Eat the Rainbow
Eating a healthy, whole-foods diet rich in vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, antioxidants, and amino acids is helpful in treating stress. Some of our fav stress-fighting foods include leafy greens, cage-free eggs, grass-fed beef, berries, almonds, avocado, and cooking with allll the coconut oil. Research shows that dark chocolate, in moderation, has real stress fighting properties, as well! (Whoop whoop!)
Chronic stress strips your body of essential B vitamins, so it’s super important to replenish your body’s supply of these nutrients regularly. It can be tough to get all the necessary nutrients through diet alone, so we recommend turning to supplements for a little assistance. Adaptogenic herbs like Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and Apocynum Venetum have been shown to improve the negative effects that cortisol has on the body, all of which can be found in Stress Fighter. We also recommend taking magnesium and calcium, which will relax your muscles, relieve headaches and help you sleep.
Hugs Make You Happier. It’s Science!
Making time to connect with the people around you is another proven way to reduce stress. Direct face-to-face interaction (sorry, but texting and Instagram won’t cut it) triggers our nervous system to release a “cocktail” of neurotransmitters that regulates our stress response. Consider this your prescription for more coffee dates and happy hours.
Taking it one step further, physical touch releases oxytocin, which lowers cortisol levels and increases feelings of trust. Even a simple handshake or a high-five will do! But if you’re seriously looking to fight stress naturally, get a massage, hug a friend (it’s free!) or have sex with your partner. (See: Stress & Sex)
Slow it Down
In today’s go, go, go world, slowing down doesn’t feel like an option. Well my friend, we give you permission to s l o w d o w n. Slowing down is a necessary form of self-care because it allows you to breathe deeply and reconnect with the present moment, which will clear your mind and make you happier. Slowing down looks different on everyone, but some effective ways to slow down and reduce stress include meditating, yin yoga, and journaling. Another idea is to get to bed just thirty minutes earlier at night - and don’t stare at your phone! Use this bonus thirty minutes to reflect on the day, read a book, or get some extra sleep. Your body will love you forever.