4 Easy Ways to Reduce Stress

July 1, 2014

 

Been chased by a Saber-Tooth Tiger lately? Probably not, but your body thinks you have been. Every time you see your boss’s name in your inbox late at night, your body reacts by initiating the “fight-or-flight” response and dumps cortisol into your system.

 

Small amounts of this hormone are normal and actually good for you in stressful situations- allowing you to become more focused and help you complete tasks by giving you more energy. Once the task is complete, cortisol levels drop and the body returns to normal. The problem arises when stress has no outlet for the cortisol to be released and it remains in the body.

 

Scientists have known for years that stress and elevated cortisol levels:  interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function, cause sleep problems, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease... The list goes on and on.

 

So what can we do to lower cortisol levels and manage stress?

 

Exercise:

It doesn’t even have to be very strenuous or long. Just 20-30 minutes of walking the dog or riding your bike every day. Even Yoga has been proven to reduce cortisol.

 

Get Social:

Make an effort to spend real face-to-face time with friends or family- no Facebook or phone calls here. Recent studies have shown human connectivity helps your body to relax.

 

Laugh More:

It’s no joke! Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

 

Get a Massage:

Ahh, the tried and true method to stress management. But there’s scientific backing to this too: physical touch relaxes your nervous system and increases oxytocin levels (promoting feelings of contentment, reducing anxiety and fear, and helping you to feel safe).

 

Take these simple, easy steps and before you know it, you won’t even care if Mr. Saber-Tooth is chasing after you. 

Been chased by a Saber-Tooth Tiger lately? Probably not, but your body thinks you have been. Every time you see your boss’s name in your inbox late at night, your body reacts by initiating the “fight-or-flight” response and dumps cortisol into your system.

Small amounts of this hormone are normal and actually good for you in stressful situations- allowing you to become more focused and help you complete tasks by giving you more energy. Once the task is complete, cortisol levels drop and the body returns to normal. The problem arises when stress has no outlet for the cortisol to be released and it remains in the body.

Scientists have known for years that stress and elevated cortisol levels:  interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function, cause sleep problems, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease... The list goes on and on.

So what can we do to lower cortisol levels and manage stress?

Exercise:

It doesn’t even have to be very strenuous or long. Just 20-30 minutes of walking the dog or riding your bike every day. Even Yoga has been proven to reduce cortisol.

 

Get Social:

                Make an effort to spend real face-to-face time with friends or family- no Facebook or phone calls here. Recent studies have shown human connectivity helps your body to relax.

 

Laugh More:

                It’s no joke! Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

 

Get a Massage:

                Ahh, the tried and true method to stress management. But there’s scientific backing to this too: physical touch relaxes your nervous system and increases oxytocin levels (promoting feelings of contentment, reducing anxiety and fear, and helping you to feel safe).

 

Take these simple, easy steps and before you know it, you won’t even care if Mr. Saber-Tooth is chasing after you. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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