Live More, Stress Less: Why You Have Stress and How To Reduce It

Stress can come from many sources, from work or school, to home life, parenting, finances, and so many other things. It is true that everyone can experience stress, but women are at a higher risk for getting this mental health condition. #Stress is a part of life but we have the power to control our body’s impact. What is causing your body’s stress response and what can you do to reduce stress on the body?



Nervous Systems

We have two different nervous systems, the parasympathetic nervous system, where we rest and digest. That's the system that we're intended to live in most of the time. Then we have another system in our body called the sympathetic nervous system. The system is considered our fight and flight system, where our body is alert from the sense of danger.


Cortisol is the stress hormone released when we respond in the sympathetic nervous system. This has a valuable purpose for our bodily function but creates havoc when we spend more time in the sympathetic nervous system than the parasympathetic. Therefore, we need to work on bringing our bodies back into a parasympathetic dominant state most of the time. When we live in a sympathetic dominant nervous system, we get cortisol dysregulation and experience many symptoms, including pain. As we progress with this pattern eventually, our adrenals become overworked and wear out, and our cortisol levels drop overall, creating a syndrome often called adrenal fatigue. However, both high and low cortisol can increase pain sensitivity and increase headaches.


Signs You Are Experiencing Stress

You may think you know what it feels like to be stressed out, but many only realize they are stressed when it starts to truly affect other areas of their life. This can be when it is most severe for you. However, stress comes in many forms, and you might be experiencing it on an almost daily basis without even realizing. By understanding the signs of stress, you have a better chance at catching it early on so you can try some of the natural remedies listed below.


Here are some signs that you might have stress:

- You are waking up with headaches due to clenching your teeth

- You have frequent tension headaches

- Your concentration and memory is lacking

- You are suffering from increased depression or anxiety

- You are getting moderate to severe mood swings

- You have difficulty making a decision

- You feel tired and wired at the same time

- You are having trouble sleeping

- You have been smoking, drinking, or eating more than usual

- You feel a sense of helplessness and like you are too overwhelmed

- You have gained weight around your middle and are having trouble losing it

- You are getting irregular periods

- You are craving sugar


Complications and Side Effects

Believe it or not, there are quite a few ways stress can affect you, both mentally and physically. This doesn’t even begin to cover the fact that stress can lead to problems at home, including finances, work, and with your family or friends. Aside from those complications, it also affects you emotionally and mentally. You might have heightened anxiety, more frequent panic attacks, and severe depression when you are stressed. It also increases the risk for many physical ailments, including headaches and migraines, digestive issues, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, infections, backache, eating disorders, skin problems, bowel disorders, and many others.


What To Do About it

Stress can really take a toll on your entire life. Looking for ways to relieve your stress should be done sooner than later. What will work for you might vary based on exactly what is causing you stress. One day, journaling might be useful, while going for a run is best on another day. Try healthy activities that take your mind off what you are stressed about, even if it’s just having coffee with friends.


Here are some tips to relieve stress:

- Exercise regularly

- Eat a balanced diet

- Aim for 8 hours of sleep

- Set realistic goals

- Practice deep breathing

- Do something you really enjoy

- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, sugar, and soda

- Grab a gratitude journal

- Meditate


One of my favorite ways to relieve stress is Hypnobreathwork. You can find more about it here.

For more information on the dynamic behind stress and cortisol, check out Episode 5 of A Little Bit Healthier Podcast.


#stressrelief #functionalmedicine #meditation #healthgoals #alittlebithealthier

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