We all feel stressed at times. Yet it’s knowing how to effectively find stress relief that can make the biggest difference to our overall health and happiness.
The good news is that it’s easier than you may realise to find effective and natural stress relief
A hormone known as cortisol is naturally released by the adrenal glands in response to stressful situations. The brain triggers this release when cortisol levels are too high for far too long.
Consistently high cortisol levels for a long period of time can cause high blood pressure and weight gain, sleep disruption, negative moods and even contribute to diabetes.
Studies also suggest that moderately high levels of cortisol can lead to various health problems including:
- Impaired brain function, mental cloudiness or “brain fog”
- Infections as a result of a hampered immune system
- Chronic complications such as high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis
- Tiredness that can cause disrupted sleep patterns and fatigue
- Weight gain as cortisol increases appetite, signalling the body to shift fat the metabolism to store fat
Here are 10 of the best ways to naturally find relief from stress…
1. Learn to Relax
Unwinding at the end of a stressful day is essential for good health. Various studies show that deep breathing exercises can reduce stress considerably – with nearly a 50% reduction in cortisol levels in those who practiced deep breathing training on a regular basis.
Several studies highlight how massage therapy can reduce cortisol levels by 30%, while yoga is also excellent for managing stress.
Regular participation in Tai Chi has been shown to be effective at reducing cortisol, as can listening to relaxing music for 30 minutes, when compared with watching a documentary or sitting in silence.
2. Get the right amount of sleep
Making sure you get enough quality sleep every night is essential for good health. The time, length and quality of sleep all affect and influence cortisol levels.
Sleep deprivation can caused increased cortisol levels and insomnia, raising high cortisol for up to 24 hours. Sleep interruptions can also increase cortisol levels or disrupt daily hormone patterns.
One of the best ways you can optimise sleep patterns is to be as physically active as possible during waking hours, avoid caffeine in the evening, limit exposure to bright lights and avoid distractions before bed. Finally taking naps to reduce sleepiness and prevent a sleep deficit can all help you to relax.
3. Eat healthy foods
Nutrition plays a big role in good health and influencing cortisol levels. Consuming a high level of sugar is linked to higher cortisol levels in obese individuals, and surprisingly, sugar has also been shown to reduce the amount of cortisol released in response to stressful events.
Healthy foods to eat include plenty of green leafy vegetables, various fruits, probiotic rich food like yogurt, sauerkraut or kimchi. Prebiotics such as soluble fiber can provide food for these bacteria and also help with reducing cortisol levels.
4. Take nutritional supplements
Studies show that nutritional supplements such as fish oil and ashwagandha can lower cortisol levels. One study of seven men showed how those taking fish oil supplements reduced cortisol levels in response to stress.
The herbal supplement Ashwagandha has traditionally been used to treat anxiety and help people adapt to stress. The high level of chemicals known as glycosides and aglycones are thought to have medicinal effects.
A study of 98 adults taking an Ashwagandha supplement or a placebo for 60 days found that taking 125mg of Ashwagandha either once or twice daily could reduce cortisol levels.
5. Do exercise
Mild or moderate exercise is best for decreasing cortisol levels, while intense exercise increases cortisol. It may increase in the short term but then nighttime levels decrease later on.
Short term increase in growth helps the body to meet its challenge, whereas the more you practice regular exercise, the lesser the cortisol response.
Moderate amounts of exercise can increase cortisol levels in unfit individuals, whereas physically fit people experience smaller bumps of cortisol when they undertake intense activity.
6. Recognise stress
Feeling stressed is one of the major signals for cortisol release. Learning to become aware of and observe signs of stress and tension is one of the best ways to consciously and deliberately know how to react to them.
One study found that writing about previous stressful experiences increased cortisol levels over the course of one month, when compared with writing about positive life experiences or plans.
By training yourself to be aware of your thoughts and feelings, your breathing and heart rate, you can begin to recognise where your stress begins.
Becoming mindful about stressful thoughts can help you to form a conscious and deliberate means of reacting to them. A study of 43 women found that their ability to articulate and describe stress is linked with lowered cortisol response.
Following a program of mindfulness techniques can help to manage and reduce stress in the long-term.
Mindfulness meditation can lower levels of the stress hormone known as cortisol. One study found in the journal Health Psychology showed there was an association between decreased levels of cortisol and increased mindfulness.
This study is the first to show a direct relation between resting cortisol and scores of any type on the mindfulness scale. Learning to meditate even for 5-10 minutes daily can make a big difference to your stress levels, along with reducing anxiety and depression.
8. Enjoy yourself
Having fun and being happy is a great way to keep cortisol levels down. Having a cheerful disposition is associated with lowered cortisol, lowered blood pressure, healthy heart rate and a strong immune system.
Developing hobbies that encourage creativity and productivity can lower cortisol levels and promote feelings of wellbeing. One study of 49 middle-aged veterans showed that gardening can decrease cortisol levels more than conventional occupational therapy methods.
Find an activity that you can enjoy partaking in on a daily basis. For example, gardening, writing, painting or creating an artistic project. The key is to feel good throughout the process!
9. Create Healthy Connections
Being involved with people who have your best intentions in mind is essential for best health and wellbeing.
Learning how to identify and develop feelings, has been shown in one program to lead to a 23% reduction in cortisol levels in adults, when compared with 15 adults who didn’t participate.
Having healthy and happy connections and relationships with others can help you to become your best self.
10. Care for a Pet
Taking care of a pet can reduce stress and cortisol levels according to studies showing that contact with animal companions can provide good support during socially stressful situations.
One study showed that interacting with a therapy dog can reduce distress and the resulting cortisol changes during a minor medical procedure in children.
Caring for a pet includes spending time walking, petting or doing fun activities with your animal companion. More good reasons to walk the dog!
Consider taking the following supplementation formulas, alongside the above advice to naturally relieve stress and boost feelings of wellbeing…
Relaxwell™ – This combination formula of L-Tryptophan, L-Theanine, Vitamin B3 and B6 is designed to combat stress and restlessness, promoting relaxation. Recommended dosage is 1 capsule x 2 times daily.
10 Natural Ways To Find Stress Relief From Every Day Life | www.naturallyhealthynews.com