5 Best Ways for Lowering Stress
Stress is more than just a feeling. It’s a hormonal response to a given problem. This can be from both mental and physical occurrences, and it happens as follows.
The event occurs.
The brain flicks the switch to taking action.
You release any or all of your stress hormones cortisol, norepinephrine and adrenaline depending on what you’re responding to.
Your body eliminates the problem.
The hormones return to a stable level.
You go on with life as usual.
The problem that more and more of us are facing is this: These stress hormones stay elevated longer than necessary, to the point where you can develop chronic stress issues, weight gain and even develop or worsen depression and anxiety issues. Cortisol resistance (your body produces significant amounts because it doesn’t use it properly) is a common cause for this, but the roots for developing this problem is the same - being overly exposed to stress in some way.
Symptoms for being overly stressed are generally obvious. When you’re sad, anxious and frustrated all the time, we should know. However, many of us have adapted to this as a second nature, meaning we don’t even realize the issue is there. I can vouch for this, having grown up with depression, not realizing my issue was genuine, and just assuming feeling sad everyday was normal.
Remember one thing, your stress, anxiety, depression or anger has a purpose. This blog’s goal is to find that purpose, and get rid of it so that you can live a happier life, and as a result, drop weight incredibly fast as I will explain. So let’s get into it.
5 Powerful Ways to Lower Stress
This one might be obvious, or might seem weird to some. However, it’s not done enough or even properly for that fact. Meditation is shown to significantly reduce cortisol levels not just instantaneously, but long term, which can help cure cortisol resistance. To meditate, you don’t necessarily have to sit cross legged listening to the phone app Headspace, which is what I prefer to do. You do however need to become present.
To meditate, you can do a yoga class, walk through nature or even go to the beach and lie in the sand while you listen to the waves. Meditation comes in many forms. Find the way that best suits you.
I use all forms of meditation, and the one that works almost as well as using Head Space is using nature. There’s a technique called “grounding” that entails you feeling nature. Take your shoes and sock off, touch the ground with your bare feet, and become present with that feeling. Genuinely think how each blade of grass feels on your feet, listen for the birds or a dog barking, smell the fresh air, feeling the cold, and watch the trees blow in the breeze. Use all your senses. That is what being present is.
Be sure to incorporate at least 20 minutes of meditation in your day. I like to spend 15 minutes cross legged and focused mentally, with the other 5 minutes in nature or just listening to sounds.
2. Decrease total stimulants to the system
Stimulants can occur from many things. This can come from looking at your phone too long, or having a little too much caffeine, and a very common one is drinking too often or too much. A list of some examples are as listed: blue light (computer/TV/phone), social media, phone vibration, coffee, pre workout, alcohol, non natural sweeteners, diuretics, non herbal drugs ect.
A good way to manage this is by minimizing or eliminating exposure to these. If you’re a drug user or an alcoholic, then it’s pretty self explanatory. When ingesting drugs (these can be party drugs, over the counter pills, pain killers or even natural substances that effect something like a diuretic), it’s important to know how much you need, and to never exceed that amount. With alcohol, minimize the days of drinking, and try to stick to white colored alcohols such as vodka, white wine and pale ciders, as these have less effects on cortisol (I still have red wine but I limit it).
For coffee or any other caffeinated beverage, cycle it. I cut out coffee for 3 weeks, and it was painful. So painful that I would feel like napping after a 9 hour sleep. Once I adjusted to caffeine free, I built the mentality of only having it when I need to, and ordering decaf when I go on a tinder date. Jokes, I’m more classy than that, I don’t go to coffee on a first date. Too much caffeine (same as alcohol) can lead to chronic stress or adrenal disorders, so be careful. A good note is every 3 weeks take 3 days off completely, or on the weekend have extremely low caffeine intake (single shot per day) and save it for the work week.
Now looking at electronics. Download F.LUX on your computer and switch on night mode on your TV and phone. This decreases the amount of blue light, leading to less stimulation. Put your phone on flight mode or do not disturb from a hour before bed til an hour after waking up. These are the times when we’re increasingly sensitive to being stimulated by social media and other life problems.
One more thing is the gut could be the cause for stimulation. If you have gut issues (gurgling gut or toilet issues are examples), then find the root cause like a food intolerance, lack of fiber or lack of gut microbiome (bacteria) support, and fix that issue. Inflammation will go down and stress will decrease.
3. Stop overdoing it
This applies to over training and under resting yes, but it applies to a lot more too. If you train too much, too frequently, train heavy too often, do high intensity training (HIIT) too often, or simply are constantly active without adapting first (professional athletes get this), you become overly stimulated this way. Similar to the effects of coffee or the phone light, your central nervous system becomes triggered, and your stress hormones elevate - even after training.
Make sure you’re sleeping at least 6 hours per night. If you need a 10 hour sleep, have a 10 hour sleep. If you’re still aching before your second squat session, train something else and squat tomorrow. If your forearms hurt, your grip strength is weak, your joints hurt or your body aches, take at least 48 hours off from training and just stick to resting and walking. Simple, but effective methods.
Make sure you incrementally work up to stimulation and then cycle rest periods. That means adding an extra strength session in the week after 3-4 weeks rather than throwing in 3 extra sessions straight away. This means maybe doing 2 less HIIT classes in the week and substituting them for a hike on Sunday. Finally, this means listening to your body. Pay attention to what your body needs now, so that results long term become more attainable. If you overdo it now, the future you will pay the price. Then cycle in a week or even a month of a deload where you take time from strength and HIIT training.
Great examples are seasoned bodybuilders doing 2-3 shows per year. The body constantly will be going through chronic levels of stress with depleted and fluctuating hormones, leading to a future of pain, stress, disorders, poor metabolism and a shorter life span. If you do 2-3 shows one after another, then fine. Take 18-24 months off. You have your entire life, which will be a lot longer if you decrease the frequency of these shows. This applies to other sports like fighting, power lifting, or any sport requiring huge stress.
4. Manage it
This sounds simple, but it really isn’t. The last thing we want to do when we’re stressed is to sit down and write out our problems. Yet it’s one of the fastest ways to overcome said problem.
Instead, plan and manage your stress like you do with your time. In fact, if you can manage time then you can manage stress, because time is seemingly impossible for me to manage, so hats off to those troopers out there that can.
Managing your stress comes down to figuring out what works for your individual nature. So a trial and error process is required. Here are some powerful tactics to help manage your stress.
Write it down. Write down the what comes to mind when you think of what could be causing the stress. Doing this is proven to have a powerful subconscious shift, giving you more perceived control over the cause.
Plan it. This takes the previous point a step further. Write down all your issues, then next to it write out the solution. Under the solution list the recourse needed for the solution to occur. For example: Finance being the issue, you want to list the fix. The fix could be a second cash job, needing more leads, more hours at work, expenses. Then under that you can write “my friend does X cash job on the weekends, I will ask to join them” and “I will ask my boss for more hours after showing how hard I work this week”. Relationship wise it could be doing something for X that they love and taking ownership for problems in the relationship, or in some cases knowing when to move on.
Create a solution tree. Perspective is powerful here. Write the problem at the top, then under it list what you need to do. If it works out, the great, if it doesn’t, what’s plan B? Branch off like in a family tree to the solution B, the solution C and so forth. This shows you just how many options you have and strengthens your perspective on the stress factor.
Reverse engineering your stress. What’s the problem? What caused the problem? What caused this to be a problem? Keep back tracking until you narrow down the original issue or the root cause, then eliminate that.
My favorite. Noting. Another perspective tool. During meditation is best, but if you’re going about your day, and a bad though crosses your mind or a bad feeling occurs, you note it. So you think very lightly “oh, that’s just a thought, that’s all it is, I’m not this thought, it’s just passing by”. You then let it go before focusing on something present like the dog your patting or the indents in your steering wheel. Then get on with life. This empowers you over the thought or feeling.
5. Supplements and foods to decrease stress
Straight to the point, the following supplements are a good way to decrease stress and improve central nervous system support. However, these should be taken while you work on meditation and how to manage your stress, then when you master than, weave off of these. I only promote natural supplements. The foods however should definitely be included in your diet if it fits your current diet (eg. vegans don’t eat fish).
Ashwagandha: Easily my favorite. Aim for 400-600mg of extract or 2000mg of root or powder form. This lowers overall stress and can help depression.
St John’s Wort: My second favorite, but I have switched to Ashwagandha due to studies I have read. Aim for 300mg firs thing in the morning to start, then have another 300mg at night if effects aren’t happening, and another dose at lunch if you still don’t notice anything. Don’t have anymore than 900mg in a day. Don’t mix with Ashwagandha
Ginseng Extract, Root or Tea. Take one serving as shown on the bottle. This isn’t as backed, but has benefits.
Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Omega 3, B Vitamins and Magnesium are all nutrients that can lead to stress if deficient or low. Make sure you eat a variety of foods to cover all spectrums, or supplement if needed.
Oily fish. A great balance of Omegas and fight stress responses such as inflammation.
Berries and Dark Chocolate for anti oxidants.
Teas such as Chamomile, Passionflower, Holy Basil, Skullcap, Black and Green tea.