You may be busy running around during the day and think hm maybe I am a bit stressed but that’s just my lifestyle right now and it is what it is. I have worked with 1000’s of stressed out or just super busy people over the years. As a naturopath who focuses on hormone imbalances I often have stress management consultations with my patients because your stress hormone has a big impact on all of your other hormones.
We all know that chronically high levels of stress are not healthy but what is actually happening in the body when we’re stressed? I’m going to talk about the science and some quick stress management tips.
When we’re highly stressed we release a hormone called cortisol. It’s got a bad reputation as our stress hormone. But we have normal amounts of cortisol that we should put out everyday. We woke up, felt refreshed and awake because of a spike of cortisol that woke us up. This is why naturopaths ask is you feel refreshed on waking to assess adrenal health. Cortisol helps us stay motivated. If we have too little we’re sleepy and not motivated. If we’re chronically stressed we can keep cortisol higher than it needs to be for a long period of time. Normally a burst of cortisol is released and gradually decreases throughout the day and gets so low that we can sleep at the end of the day. If we’re constantly on the go or feeling worry or stress then our cortisol is never getting a chance to drop down. This is when we see the negative effects of persistently high cortisol or chronic stress. We might develop anxiety, higher cholesterol, lowered immunity, memory issues or abdominal weight gain “stress tummy”.
So, it’s important that we incorporate breaks or rest periods into the day so that when our cortisol hormone spikes it has a chance to come back down. Naturopathic doctors often suggest adrenal support (your adrenal glands sit above your kidney and release cortisol) in the form of herbs called adaptogens if there is a more severe cortisol issue. Here are a few quick stress management tips that you can try out right away.
You are super busy in your day! I get it. Even 3 deep breaths in a row significantly lowers cortisol and gives your body a chance to recover.
Meditation is a practice of becoming aware of the breath and coming back into the moment. You can do a guided meditation on YouTube or set a timer on your phone for 2 minutes with the dedicated time of taking some slow deep breaths. Research shows that a meditation practice shows the most significant reduction in cortisol after being practiced for 6 weeks. Staying consistent with your stress management plan is when you really see your pay-offs.
Increasing sleep from 6 hours a night to 8 hours will reduce cortisol levels by 50 percent! That’s a lot. If you are having trouble sleeping ask me about a sleep protocol that can help with this.
If exercise is intense it will increase cortisol. This can be an issue for some female athletes. Moderate intensity reduces cortisol. So if you are focusing on adrenal health moderate intensity exercise is best.
I hope you found some helpful stress management tips here. Share this article with a friend who could use some extra stress support 🙂