By Dr. Emily FitzGerald, ND
“ You are turning on the stress response just by thought alone.”
– Dr. Joe Dispenza
A daunting to do list…convinced you should be doing more….perpetual feelings of frustration, anger or guilt…on the hamster wheel already?
Burnout looks different for everyone, the impact of daily stressors is unique and can be overwhelming. Here’s the thing. No matter what diet you follow, how much exercise you do or how many superfood supplements you take, if you are unable to manage your stress, none of these will have the impact you’re hoping for.
In fact, there are many cases where emotional stress is the starting point of food allergies, inflammation, a challenged immune system, hormonal imbalance, insulin resistance, bloating and more.
The Hormones of Stress and Your Thoughts
There are several hormones working to facilitate our response to stress. They work in a rhythmic way. Cortisol, a steroid hormone made by the adrenal glands, for example, normally peaks upon waking and tapers off throughout the day.
These hormones allow us to respond to our environment and then return to baseline when the stressor is over. You know, the classic example of running from a tiger?
The trouble is, the stressor is no longer a tiger, but a laundry list of things to do, businesses to build, relationships to manage, etc.
If you are thinking about your finances, or the fight you had with your friend, you’re turning on the hormones of stress by thought alone. Being chased by a tiger is no longer required.
Here are my top tips for reducing the impact of chronic stress in your life:
Ask more questions
When we begin to ask more questions and gather more information, our stress can go from a 10/10 to a 2/10. You’ll be more equipped to respond to the situation at hand.
This might seem obvious, but it’s a good reminder. A good night’s sleep is key to managing your stress. A reasonable bedtime, 1 hour of screen-free time before bed and removal of wifi from your bedroom all help to give you the restorative sleep you’ll need.
Movement and Community
Choose to move throughout the day. Get up from your desk and stretch, take the stairs, walk outside from some fresh air. I’ve grouped community here because it’s an awesome way to integrate the importance of your social network in reducing stress.
As soon as we feel stressed, our breathing becomes shortened and shallow. Breathe is one of the most powerful tools you have to create calmness and space in your body. It increases oxygen to the brain and intense feelings of relaxation. Consider taking 3 deep breaths that come from your lower abdomen to start the day and do this several more times throughout the day.
A lot of stress comes from reacting to your environment, rather than responding to it. Feeding your body and mind organically, balancing your meals and choosing a rainbow of fruits and vegetables will go a long way. Set out on Sunday to prepare yourself for the week ahead.
Managing your stress is a daily, moment to moment practice. You’ve got to do the work but the rewards will be so worth it. Are you curious about the impact of stress on your body? Testing can reveal the health of your hormones of stress.
Dr. Emily, ND
Dr. Joe Dispenza, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, 2012