10 Simple Ways to Finding a Little Stress Relief
Updated: Feb 10, 2021
I’m not stressed ~ I’m just busy.
How many times do you say that to yourself? To others?
You may not think you are stressed but your body is saying otherwise.
Skin issues, sleep issues, gut issues, hormone imbalances, mood swings, lack of concentration ….those are all little (and not so little) ways your body is telling you that you need to slow down!!
And here’s the thing. Your brain may be telling you that you are not stressed because this feeling has unfortunately become the new norm for you. But your body . .. the body never lies.
These symptoms you are experiencing are cries for help and it’s time you answer them!!
This is a crazy time of year - the holidays are one major stressor but add COVID on top and you have a whole other monster to deal with!!
As women, we tend to take on ridiculous amounts of stress. Nurtures from birth, we gravitate towards taking away the stress from our loved ones and oftentimes end up forgetting about our own needs.
What we often don’t realize is increased stress levels are very harmful to our bodies.
Your HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis is a complex loop between the body and the brain that helps regulate our stress levels.
I promise there is no test at the end of this, so you don’t have to memorize the name, but it’s super important you understand it’s function.
The HPA axis refers to the feedback loop of communication between your brain and your adrenal glands. Your brain senses stress then sends the message to your adrenals that it’s time to make stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine).
Together they work to regulate metabolism, mood, energy, and immunity.
When you’re operating with high levels of stress (or cortisol release) all the time, your adrenal glands keep responding without a chance to return back to normal. This results in high blood sugar, high blood pressure, immune system suppression, insomnia, blocking of progesterone receptors, and even hypothyroidism.
This overload, often referred to as HPA axis dysfunction or adrenal fatigue then begins to affect your brain showing up as brain fog, forgetfulness, disorganization, and loss of focus.
This is your adrenals sending your brain an urgent message that IT’S TIME TO REST!! And, honestly sis, you need to listen up and stop trying to “power through.”
Chronic stress is very harmful to our bodies and if left untreated can lead to some negative consequences. When it comes to reducing stress, remember (1) it’s not going to happen overnight - it takes time and (2) it comes down to make a few lifestyle changes.
Here are a few simple ways to reduce your stress levels and begin healing your body and brain!!
Nutrition: Avoid sugar and processed food. This does not mean extreme dieting, this simply means choosing whole foods, lean protein, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Skip the sugar, white flour, and processed ingredients as much as you can. (Yes, it’s still okay to enjoy a holiday sugar cookie from time to time)
Exercise: Move your body a minimum of 30 minutes per day to reduce stress and increase your endorphin levels.
Sleep: It’s time to start honoring your bedtime!! Make getting quality sleep a top priority.
Self-care: Taking a little for YOU is not selfish. You need to pout into you, so you can properly pour into others! Even if it’s only 5 minutes a day. Take that time!!
Breathe: Pausing for just 5 minutes per day and focusing on your breath can bring you a little sense of inner peace.
Learn to say “no”: If you’re like so many of us, you may be a people-pleaser. When we continuously say “yes” it takes away from focusing on ourselves. Spreading yourself too thin is an invitation for more stress. Remember, it’s okay to say no without explanation.
Practice mindfulness: Trying focusing on the moment. Don’t worry about anything else and just where you are and what you are doing. When we practice mindfulness we can focus on what you CAN control rather than what you CAN’T.
Supplements: Add Magnesium, Vitamin C, and B vitamins for a little adrenal TLC. (*remember to always talk to your doctor before adding supplements. They can guide you on what you need and how much.)
Hug your loved ones: Seriously! It seems too easy, doesn't it? But sometimes all we need is a good hug! Cuddling, spending time with loved ones, or doing something kind for someone else helps increase your oxytocin levels (the “love” hormone) and can decrease your levels of cortisol, helping you destress a little.
Try stress-reducing apps like “Insight Timer” or “Calm”, which use guided meditations, nature sounds, and stories to help you relax and/or sleep.
Listen sis, as much as I’d love to give you the secret sauce to living 100% stress free we know that’s not a possibility. Stress isn’t going away, BUT there are so many easy ways to increase your health by reducing some of the stress you are feeling, especially during the holidays!!
And while your brain may be used to dealing with stress, your body is giving you significant clues on how you are actually handling that stress!! Honor your body by giving it what it needs!
What are some ways that you try not to let the holiday’s stress you out? I’d love for you to share some tips that I can pass on to our community of amazing women!