Calm Down

How relieving stress helps you reach your goals

The #1 issue I help clients with? 

Well of course it is eating better, but a close second is stress reduction! 

We are all stressed out! Even little stressors trigger our sympathetic nervous system pumping the hormones norepinephrine, adrenaline and cortisol through our body. As soon as we realize that we are stressed it is important to try and swap over to the parasympathetic nervous system to help cool things down. Here’s a few examples of everyday stressors:

Traffic

Deadlines 

Relationships 

Bosses 

Employees 

Kids 

Parents 

Bills 

Not eating enough 

Eating poor quality food 

Working out too much

The list really could go on and on. It literally took me 45 seconds to come up with. Most people I talk to are so used to running on adrenaline that they don’t notice it anymore. We are like the fish in David Foster Wallace’s famous speech,

There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”

Stress is our water. We have always had it all around us, it is so blatantly obvious that we don’t realize it is there.

Being in a pro-longed state of stress causes imbalances in our hormones and can lead to adrenal fatigue/failure. Ask anyone who has experienced either fatigue or failure, it is a terrible ride - exhaustion, zero sex drive, lack of motivation, anxiety, and depression are just the ones that come to mind at this moment. Hormones are not easily replenished, if we severely tap our endocrine system it can take weeks, months or years to repair. 

It impedes our health and fitness goals as well. When we are in the stress response our primary focus is survival not digestion, not repair, not reproduction, not preserving muscle or burning fat. Swimming in that water will lead to more body fat, fertility issues, bloating and gas, acid reflux and only makes autoimmune diseases flare. 

When we think about what stress does to our bodies, as well as our mental and emotional state, we see that learning to manage our stress is extremely important. 

Here’s a list of ways to switch yourself from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system, improving your digestion, mood, sex drive, sleep quality etc...

1. Shake it Off!! Starting with the silliest… Literally shake yourself like a dog getting out of a lake. Imagine whatever you want out of you flinging off like water droplets. 

This is wonderful for you and especially helpful if: you just had a rough conversation, are feeling stressed, negativity is taking hold of you and you want to change your attitude…. Shake. It. Off!

2. 5-10 deep breaths. Breathe in slowly (3-4 counts) through your nose and then quickly breathe out through your mouth making a "ha" sound. 

This is great for calming anxiety, releasing stress and shaking out any stagnant energy or air in your lungs.

3. 3 minute breathing exercise. Set a timer for 3 minutes and close your eyes breathing in slowly (4-6 counts) and breathing out slowly (4-6 counts) 

This exercise is AWESOME for our brains - 90% of the fuel for our brain comes from oxygen. 

4. Take a 15 minute walk. Around the office or the stairwell, better yet OUTSIDE. 

Moving our bodies gets our energy up and can help keep our heads clear. Viewing Nature has been known to reduce stress - so if you work in the city you may have to search a little.

5. Meditate. Even just 10 minutes a day will make a huge difference. You'll be surprised at the subtle and not-so-subtle shifts that meditation makes. 

The free trial on HeadSpace is wonderful and the free app Insight Timer has a HUGE library of all different types of guided meditations and music to meditate with. Peace Out 

6. Exercise. Find some way to move your body atleast 30 - 60 minutes 4 times a week. This pressure release valve keeps our body, heart and mind in healthier place. Bonus if you can find a way to exercise that brings you JOY!!!!

Peace + Love + Strength

Michelle Meeks