Tell me a secret. Do you know anyone who’s never been stressed? Like, ever?
I don’t. We are human beings, we get overwhelmed, overstimulated, and stressed. We stress eat, stress drink, stress sleep and do other not so healthy things when we lose control over our body. It’s normal. Can you create a healthy stress management routine for all life’s occasions? Sure! In this post, we will talk about the most holistic stress management tips you can implement in no time.
Stress management: Mission Possible
I am sure you can recall at least one or two terrible occasions when you felt like you were going to explode and lose your sh*t, especially how high the stress levels were. I remember a few times when I’d just explode crying because I am that kind of person that will keep pushing the stress down, but it will build inside of me until something tiny teeny triggers it and then… badaboom!
Just like nutrition and exercise, sleep and stress management get pushed back on the list of our daily priorities. Work tasks, social commitments, and relationships come first. But think about it – would your co-workers, employees, family or friends rather hang out with a calm, centered person who has stress under control or someone that needs pity, empathy, and never-ending support because they can’t manage it? You know the answer.
Don’t fret yet, though. I know it’s easier said than done. See, this is what happens when we get stressed:
What happens when we get stressed
Things hit the fan. In your body.
You probably heard of fight-or-flight response before, right? That stressful feeling of a bear chasing you? Ever had that? That’s how it feels, even if just in your nightmares. Once it kicks in, Mr. Hypothalamus decides to protect you, and your nervous and adrenal systems respond. Then it’s followed by a bunch of unpleasant symptoms like sweating, heart racing, feeling uneasy, restless, and losing mind’s clarity. That’s when there is a flood of hormones (adrenaline, cortisol, testosterone, and others) are flooding your body. Are you feeling overwhelmed by just reading it?
How bad is it?
In a short run, it’s ok. Sometimes we jump up on a chair from someone just clapping next to our ear and feel a bit of stress. Some stress is normal for our body to overcome, but persistent abuse of cortisol release and this hormonal unbalance will impact many important and vital systems in your body (immune, endocrine, digestive, etc) AND impact your metabolism. I’ve had clients in the past who started losing weight by just releasing and managing their stress levels.
How can stress affect you in the long rung?
Here are just a few things that will be suffering from chronic stress:
- Chronic inflammation – probably one of the worst thing done to your body that causes illness, aging, even cancer
- Gut problems (related strongly to inflammation)
- Heart disease, high blood sugar, and slow metabolism
- High blood pressure, cholesterol levels, a risk for diabetes
- Anxiety and depression
- Low libido
- Low quality of life
Doesn’t sound fun. You are in charge, my friend. Keep reading because I am about to share how I personally handle high-stress levels (as an entrepreneur and lab pup mom, and army spouse…there are PLENTY LOL). Also, I looked into what experts in my field have to say about the stress management on many occasions and situations and then compiled a nice roundup for you to read.
If you know me a little bit, you know that I approach many things from a perspective of good nutrition first. So good food is not included as a suggestion here, it’s a must! (Ice cream is NOT good food. #sorry #notsorry). Just please promise me to eat good fats, lean protein, and lots of nutrient-rich veggies. Mmmm-kay. Good girl.
My stress management tips
Cut out the noise.
Seriously. One of the easiest things you can do anytime and anywhere is get to a quiet spot and relax. Do a breathing exercise, or follow the next two methods. Get away from the stressor, whether it’s a job situation or a toxic person. We tend to lump things together, so shortly everything around you (involving your body) will get affected.
t’s easy, available for you anywhere, and FREE! Meditation calms your mind, nerves, and gets you centered. When I started, I had a really hard time sitting still for 15 mins. Start with something simple like 5-min sound bites. Use Headspace, Calm, or Zen – they are amazing.
Write it out.
Journaling has been there for people for centuries! All you need is a notepad and pen. Writing things in the present tense whether you are referring to something’s bothering you or something you want to manifest in your life will make it happen. Keep it simple, like talking to an old friend. Journaling is the best form of free psychotherapy.
4. Talk to a friend/family member.
This is even a better therapy than writing or doctor! Having close connections, a small circle of people you trust, and reaching out to them when you need them doesn’t make you weak. It makes you vulnerable, open, sincere, and smart. Call your BFF, mom, or talk to your significant other. People who love you will always have some suggestions to help you, and enough empathy to start your healing.
I don’t know anyone who’d feel worse or more stressed AFTER a light workout. There must be something about the stress leaving through your pores, lol. Go for a walk, roll out your yoga mat, stretch, or do some weights. Running is good too (if you enjoy it). Don’t want to hit the gym? Dance it out in your living room!
Go to nature.
Hike, bike, walk, swim, and breathe in the beauty. Sure, we are the social creatures but nothing beats the quietness, serenity, and zen-like feeling you get out in the woods, mountains, or by the water. Personally, I can spend a few hours just sitting and watching the water, but the ocean is my favorite and I go to catch waves or swim. Water is therapeutic.
Seems pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t think about sleep is a factor for their stress management (alongside with nutrition and exercise). In fact, sleeping more and getting a better quality sleep can help you to resolve the stressful situations, and approach them from a more stable, calmer, and positive angle. Trust me. Just add at least an hour a day, and see how you feel in a week.
In conclusion, I would love you to check out these amazing holistic writers, doctors, researchers, and speakers talking about different aspects of stress management.
What other experts say about stress management
- Diane Sanfilippo talks about the stress of holidays and gives a few useful tips how to handle them. I love her suggestions about handling the unsupportive friends and family.
- Mark Sisson provides some unordinary stress relief tips here. Some methods don’t have to be overly complicated and involved. My favorite? Prank it out – I believe laughter is medicine.
- Vivica from Nourished Caveman talks about stress and ketosis (yay! I love that someone covered that!). So if you are on your weight loss journey and using keto as your main method, make sure to check it out!
- Chris Kresser (love that guy!) talks about how stress can affect your gut. Read up to make sure you take care of your belly!
- Paleoleap has a few great recommendations how to use nutrients for stress management here. Remember, you are what you eat!
- Melissa Hartwig gave a wonderful speech about the correlation between sugar cravings and stress here. It will blow your mind. Look it up!
How do you handle stress?
Author: Anya Perry
Anya Perry battled boring diets, low energy, and declining health for over 10 years before she found what works. Now, she helps women achieve their dream state of health, fitness, and vitality… without the struggles, battles of miserable diets, and yo-yo results. She can’t live without coffee and challenges.