Your doctor, your favorite podcaster, and your best friend all tell you the same thing: You have got to stop stressing – it’s not good for you. And it’s sage advice since after all, stress kills. But it’s a lot easier said than done, am I right?
Stress is everywhere. Whether it’s the Sunday scaries provoking a sense of anxiety about your overwhelming, ever-growing to-do list for the week, or the Monday morning hustle to get the kids to school and yourself to work on time, or a biological event like menopause wreaking havoc on your hormones and consequently your sleep and moods, the fact is, stress is simply a part of life that cannot be avoided.
Trust me, I get it. Life is hard. Managing a household and career is hard. Financial struggles are hard. Navigating loss and grief is hard. When you think about it, it’s a wonder we’ve made it to the present day in one piece! But cheers, friends – as the saying goes, we have survived 100% of our worst days.
While nobody gets through this life unscathed, you have the ability to educate, empower, and equip yourself to better handle the inevitable stressors that life throws your way. But before sharing my top five-minute stress-stopping hacks, it’s important to recognize the dangers of stress and why managing it in a healthy way is critical to your health and wellbeing.
The Physical and Mental Tolls of Stress
Stress is not an inherently bad thing and in fact served a vital purpose for our ancestors, guiding them away from potentially fatal threats like animal attacks. Today, our stressors do not involve getting eaten by a tiger, but missing an important deadline at work because the school called and your daughter is sick. The two scenarios are vastly different in threat level but our body reacts to them just the same.
The unfortunate reality is stress can really take its toll, wearing us down and making us sick physically and mentally. In order to manage stress well, you first need to be able to identify symptoms of stress.
Physical symptoms of stress might look like:
- A racing heartbeat
- Headaches and body aches
- Muscle tension
- Chest pain
- A weakened immune system
Emotional and mental symptoms of stress can include:
- Panic attacks
- Inability to focus or concentrate
Long term, though, stress can have profound effects on our physical and mental health. In addition to the shrinking effect on the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning, staying in a prolonged activated stress response state can lead to:
- Pre-diabetes and diabetes
- Mental health disorders
- Cardiovascular disease (heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke)
- Obesity or weight gain
- Eating disorders
- Menstrual problems
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Premature aging
How to Stop Stress in its Tracks
Nobody – not even that influencer or Pinterest mom who looks like they have it all together on social media – is immune to dealing with the throes of stress. The goal isn’t to avoid stress altogether, but to manage it in a healthy way.
My top five-minute stress-stopping hacks have been an incredibly helpful tool to tame my fight-or-flight response where it’s not truly needed as well as cope with the occasional hard times that require some serious rearranging and recalibrating. Implementing just a couple of these will set you up for future stress-management success!
You may not notice, but when your stress response is activated, your breathing becomes very shallow during a time when your body needs oxygen the most. A proven way to reduce the anxiety that literally tells your brain you are safe is to perform deep breathing exercises.
Try this: Breathe in through your nose for five seconds, and exhale through your nose to the count of five. Repeat this several times and if you’re comfortable, work up to 10 seconds in and out.
A fancy word for focusing all your attention on tuning the rest of the world out, this science-based practice can quickly and easily be built into your daily schedule and can help combat the toxic effects of stress on your body and mind. And what’s better, it’s free!
Even just a quick 5-minute session at your desk in the middle of a chaotic day can help you restore your sense of peace and control.
Our words have power. The negative things we think and say to and about ourselves can perpetuate feelings of inadequacy and insecurity, whereas positive affirmations can help reprogram your unconscious mind and reduce stress and anxiety.
Repeat words that will help at the moment such as, “I am ok, I am safe, I am in control.” “This feeling is temporary and this situation will pass” is another good one.
4. Add supplements.
Sometimes, implementing positive habits to more healthily manage stress can be as simple as adding a few heavy-hitting supplements to your daily routine.
With the quality of our soil diminishing over the past several decades, even a strictly whole-food diet can lack important minerals. The powerful, all-natural ingredients in high-quality supplements are proven to aid in regulating and optimizing your stress response system.
Neuro+ Support can improve focus, concentration, and memory, which comes in handy during moments of panic and unease, while Calm & Restore can help instantly relieve symptoms associated with stress and anxiety (and it’s a convenient chewable you can take with you anywhere!). Specially formulated with everything your brain needs to process and adapt to stress, Calm & Restore contains GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA is a highly beneficial lactic acid found in fermented foods that naturally enables your brain to quash anxious or intrusive thoughts and stress without the risks and potential side effects of conventional pharmaceuticals.
Chronic stress also depletes your body of critical minerals, including and especially magnesium. Low magnesium levels – which some 75% of Americans experience today – exacerbate stress, creating a vicious cycle that affects just about every vital function in the body. Magnesium Restore contains elemental magnesium, the most absorbable form for your body, and works to modulate your body’s stress response system. Since magnesium is responsible for hundreds of processes in the body, this is one supplement you want to remember to take daily. Not only does magnesium boast anti-inflammatory properties, but also it can combat depression, support healthy blood sugar levels, and improve PMS symptoms.
We increase our toxic load by internalizing the strong emotions we experience in stressful seasons. Studies show that journaling regularly — that is, recording details about your thoughts and feelings — greatly helps to identify and process complex emotions and reduces stress and anxiety.
If you’ve never journaled before and don’t know where to start, my Self-Care Journal leads the way, helping you quiet the mental chatter and set powerful intentions and goals for yourself.
Don’t worry, you’re not writing an elaborate drama script for Netflix to pick up and make into a series, you’re simply getting what’s inside out on paper so it does not continue to fester inside and contribute – quite literally – to disease in the body.
6. Call a friend.
At our core, we all have an innate desire for connection and community. Isolation is never the answer and in fact, can add to the toxic effects of stress. Don’t underestimate the benefit (and endorphin rush) of reminiscing over the phone with a friend about that time you vacationed in the Virgin Islands and had too many margaritas on Taco Night. Many times, laughter really is the best medicine.
7. Talk a walk.
Another way to promote the release of endorphins during a time you likely need them the most, walking provides innumerable benefits such as stimulating relaxation, improved moods and decreased mortality rates. (1) Walking in nature is even linked to a lower risk of depression.
8. Inhale essential oils.
When you think about simple ways to repel the effects of stress, it doesn’t get easier than inhaling essential oils. Lavender oil specifically provides powerful plant-powered protection that can help soothe feelings of anxiety, insomnia, depression, and restlessness. (2)
Take your self-care and stress relief up a notch by creating an easy, at-home bath bomb. Add 3 drops of Lavender and 2 drops of Frankincense to one cup of Epsom salt, pouring the mixture into a hot running bath. Soak for at least 15 minutes to absorb the oils on your skin.
For on-the-go stress relief, mix 10 drops of Lavender and 10 drops of Bergamot into a 10ml rollerball, filling the rest with a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil. Shake well and apply on the neck, wrists, and behind the ears anytime your chest tightens with anxious thoughts or your hands get clammy ahead of that important Zoom meeting.
Practice Makes Perfect?
The effects of chronic stress alone are reason enough to stress. Despite the potential negative and sometimes deadly outcomes stress alone can cause, practice doesn’t actually make perfect – but it can make all the difference.
Implementing even one or two of the simple, easy hacks provided here can equip you to handle the bad days, survive the worst days, and empower you to come out on the other side to tell the story. In my book, Essential Oils Menopause Solution, I teach you how to reclaim your energy and focus so you can handle anything that life throws at you.
Stress kills – but building a stress-management arsenal with these five-minute stress-stopping hacks will position you as a force to be reckoned with. My advice? Start practicing these tips today because you never know what tomorrow holds.
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1. Accelerometer-Measured Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior in Relation to All-Cause Mortality – https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.117.031300
2. Health Benefits of Lavender – https://www.journalofsports.com/pdf/2019/vol4issue1/PartAB/4-1-317-920.pdf