How Stress Affects Our Mind and Body and 3 Quick Tips to Reduce Stress Immediately
I approach healing and self-care through so many modalities, from food to cryotherapy because our mind, body and soul are intricately connected. That’s especially evident when we’re stressed. Whether we’re stressed physically or emotionally, our brain tells our body to react by increasing and decreasing different hormones. For example, stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are raised to make our heart beat faster and to give the body a boost of extra energy.
For the most part, our bodies adapt to stress relatively quickly, and these changes are normalized. But when we can’t control our stress and let our mind and body return to normal, that stress t can lead to a cascade of health issues affecting every major organ system, including our circulatory (heart), digestive, nervous and endocrine systems, as well as our immune and reproductive systems. This includes depression and anxiety, heart disease, high blood pressure, a weaker immune system, insomnia, weight gain and even diabetes.
For example, studies have shown that prolonged stress completely change our brain structure, function and connectivity, which is why it’s so much harder to remember things and retain new information. New studies are also showing that certain autoimmune diseases are triggered by prolonged increased levels of cytokines, the cells that signal for inflammation, which is tied to stress.
We can’t control what the world throws at us—there will always be another deadline or traffic on the freeway—however, we can control how we respond to stress! Below are three ways that can help us immediately feel calmer, reduce those stress levels, and help our body normalize itself:
1) BREATHE – To start, take five long, deep breaths, inhaling in for five seconds through your nose, then exhaling for five seconds through your mouth. This helps bring your mind to the present and effectively lowers your cortisol levels. Once you’re more comfortable with this simple breathing technique, try guided meditation, yoga, or tai chi as these are activities that focus on breathing, to calm your body and mind.
2) EXERCISE – Cortisol and adrenaline pump up your heart and give you more energy, perfect for working out! Moderate exercise also helps decrease your cortisol levels at night, helping you sleep better. Find an exercise that you genuinely love as it’ll bring you to the present. If you love to dance, sign up for that dance class or simply dance it out in your room!
3) PLAY WITH A PET – Pets are truly our best friend. Gizmo and Jezebel, Team Serena Loves dog mascots, love hanging out with our friends and clients that come to us for energy healing. Playing with pets calm our minds, which results in lowered cortisol levels. Next time you’re feeling anxious or stressed, give your fur baby a cuddle. The best part? The benefits are mutual as cuddling helps pets lower their stress levels! If you don’t have a fur baby, go for a walk near a dog park and ask dog owners if you can pet them.
As everyone is different, try new calming techniques to find one that works for you. The key is to find an activity that brings you to the present and helps you practice mindfulness. Cooking, organizing, or taking a hot bath, all of those can help to manage stress!
What do you find helpful to calm yourself when you’re stressed?
XO - Serena