While some stress can be positive, the problem arises when there is ongoing, chronic stress – when one worry or stress is followed by another, and it just seems like it never ends. Day-to-day demands, worry, tension and poor lifestyle habits cause your adrenals to fire constantly, and cortisol levels are released in excess.
Here are some of the chronic effects that excess cortisol has on your body:
- Weight-gain (especially belly fat and the inability to burn fat)
- Interferes with the neurotransmitter serotonin, which can lead to clinical depression,
anxiety disorders and insomnia
- Interrupts sleep
- Can cause mental clutter and poor concentration
- Breaks down collagen and speeds up the aging process
- Increases blood pressure, blood clotting and cholesterol levels
- Suppresses the immune system
- Increases the risk of heart attack and stroke
- Promotes insulin resistance (which leads to additional belly fat)
- Increases levels of estrogen, which also leads to weight-gain and mood swings
- Increases cravings
All this stressing you out? No need to fret – here are some simple solutions that help your body cope.
1. Add Adaptogens
Adaptogenic herbs such as Maca, increase the body’s resistance to stress, and ability to ‘adapt’. It helps to alleviate anxiety, stress and trauma by restoring the body’s natural balance and homeostasis. Maca improves hormonal communication (without effecting blood hormone levels) and mitigates levels of cortisol, helping your body respond to stress.
2. Eat foods rich in Vitamins B and C.
B-vitamins are stress-busting. They are essential in the production of our feel-good neurotransmitters. And while B6 is especially important in terms of busting stress, it’s also the first to be depleted in the presence of stress.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that also helps curb the large spikes in cortisol as a response to mental stress. Foods rich in Vitamin C include camu camu, maca, red peppers, strawberries and black currents; while foods rich in B6 include raw cashews, red peppers, spinach and bananas.
3. Get some good shut-eye.
Sleep helps regulate cortisol levels. And although it’s stress that keeps you awake, try adding calming herbs and teas to your bed time ritual, such as tulsi (holy basil), chamomile, lemon balm or passionflower tea.
SLEEP IT DOES THE BODY GOOD!
4. Balance exercise, relaxation and sleep
Exercise releases endorphins increasing your feeling of happiness. Yoga and meditation in particular help to calm your mind, engage your breath and boost your spirit. Another way to relax the body is to go for leisure walks daily. Add this form of mobilization to your fitness regime to help combat cortisol. Walk and exhale stress for 30 minutes or more daily. Sleep also helps regulate cortisol levels. And although it’s stress that keeps you awake, try adding calming herbs and teas to your bed time ritual, such as tulsi (holy basil), chamomile, lemon balm or passionflower tea.
5. Think positively
Most of the stress in our life is perceived stress – things we create in our head. Change the way you look at and think about things. Find a new perspective. Always think in the positive. Shiny, happy thoughts!
6. Laugh it off!
Take a deep breath and … LAUGH OUT LOUD! Laughter really is the best medicine! I like to find a funny movie to escape to.
HOW DO YOU HELP DE-STRESS YOUR BODY? DO YOU FIND ANY OF THESE TIPS HELPFUL?