8 natural ways to reduce stress and achieve optimal health
We all know that stress is highly destructive to your health. Stress can have various sources, including work, life, and family pressure, poor gut health, as well as viruses and chronic health conditions that can weaken your body and wear down your adrenals.
When you are stressed, your sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activates, while your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) deactivates. This is known as the “fight or flight” response. Over the short term, this helps your body focus on the stress. However, a chronic state of SNS activation is highly toxic for your system and can have serious health consequences. This includes lowered metabolism, weight gain, weakened immunity, higher cortisol levels, lowered DHEA, testosterone, and progesterone, anxiety, and feeling “burnt out.”
Humans are only meant to be in this state for a short period of time, however, our modern world is full of stressors that keep us in a chronic state of SNS activation. For those who are constantly stressed, moving into the PNS is key to restoring good health.
Stress impacts your overall health, body, and mind and needs to be addressed for you to achieve optimal health and wellbeing. Below are eight ways to reduce stress in your life.
Studies have proven that exercise outperforms pharmaceutical drugs in trials designed to determine which one better elevates mood and combats depression. Exercise is an excellent antidote to anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and other mood disorders.
Exercise also boosts your metabolism for healthy weight management. Just 10 to 20 minutes of exercise a day can make a big impact on your health.
Focusing on functional exercise that mimics the normal human movements of walking long distances, sprinting, and lifting things will train your muscles to work together and prepare them for daily tasks. In addition, incorporating exercises that correct the misalignment caused by prolonged sitting will improve your posture. Realigning your body includes lengthening and stretching your hamstrings, hip rotators, and hip flexors.
Walking outside, breathing fresh air, and swinging your arms help you move into the healing PNS state. The movement of walking balances your energy levels, soothes your nerves, and calms your body and mind. When practiced regularly, walking reduces anxiety, tension, and blood pressure.
Meditation is scientifically proven to reprogram your brain waves, transitioning you out of a state of high beta waves and into a low beta or theta state. This practice enables your body to heal on a deep level and calm your mind.
Beginners can start with a basic five-minute meditation in a comfortable, quiet place. Simply focus on your breathing as you inhale and exhale to experience the benefits of meditation.
Nutritional supplements can help you combat stress and refill depleted nutrients. These include vitamins, minerals, and herbs that have been scientifically proven to heal the body.
Read our next article to learn about 8 vitamins and supplements for reducing stress.
Yoga eases stress and promotes relaxation. Multiple studies have revealed that practicing yoga decreases the secretion of cortisol. By focusing on being present in the moment, practitioners can find a sense of peace and tranquillity. There are plenty of free yoga classes available online (i.e., on YouTube), or try joining a yoga class to keep you motivated.
6. Down time
In our time-crunched modern world, many of us have our days scheduled with work and activities morning until night with no time for rest. Being over-scheduled is taxing for your wellbeing and can be addressed with 60 to 90-minutes of down time a day. This dedicated time can be spent walking outside, reading, doing yoga, or breathing deeply.
A calming, light-pressure massage can help soothe your body and mind. Massages stimulate your lymphatic system and manually drain toxins from your body. Cranial sacral massage and foot reflexology are also highly effective massage therapies.
Laughter really is the best medicine! By seeking movies, comedians, events, and friends that make you laugh, you can benefit from the healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Laughter releases a rush of endorphins, boosts the immune system, and improves your mood so that you can face life with more resilience.
Find a combination of stress-relieving strategies that work for you to gain more energy, better digestion, and a happier mindset.
Author: Jesamine Dyus
Images source: Pexels