Even those who have nutrition, exercise, and supplementation under control can suffer from increased long-term health risks due to chronic stress.
Stress and Your Body
Cortisol is often referred to as the “stress hormone” for a good reason – your adrenal glands, perched right atop your kidneys, make cortisol in an attempt to help your body handle stressful situations.
While a little spike of cortisol is good in response to short-term stressors, it starts to become a problem when the body starts making too much, too often.
High cortisol is an overreaction to chronic stress
If you’re used to spending your days worrying, overworking, or just generally freaking out, your adrenals try to help out by hitting you with frequent doses of fight-or-flight energy.
Many of your body’s normal processes can get interrupted by these bursts—they’re placed on the back-burner while you tend to your “dangerous” situation. This can lead to a number of unhealthy issues, from low immune response and damage to your circulatory system, to weakened bones and belly fat.
Your optimal cortisol range is between 2.3 mcg/dL and 19.5 mcg/dL. If your cortisol is out of range (≥19.5 mcg/dL or < 2.3 mcg/dL), you’ve may have some stress reduction to do. Browse our testing menu to see which testing packages include cortisol.
The good news is that you can take control of your stress today. Empower yourself by keeping this list of quick ideas that can help you manage your stress levels, no matter where you are.
6 Things You Can Do Right Now to Manage Stress
1. Take an unplugged walk
Taking a walk around the block, leaving your phone behind. Getting a little less screen time in the middle of the day can refresh your eyes and mind, and help you re-set for whatever task you take on next.
2. This 7-minute full body yoga session
A brief yoga session can open up the muscles, allow you to breathe, and help you bond with your inner self. Here’s a simple, 7-minute whole body stretching routine that you can do at home or in a small floor space of a conference room.
3. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is the state of being conscious of a particular thing. You can practice it by intentionally allowing time and space to be conscious of thought, feelings, and sensations. Even 2-3 minutes could be helpful. Get the how to and why.
4. This Breathing Exercise
Dr. Andrew Weill, a physician who focuses on integrative medicine, states that “practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.”
Dr. Weill’s favorite 4-7-8 breathing exercise:
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
This is one breathe – now inhale again and repeat this cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
5. Pick 2 Favorite Songs
Listening to a favorite song for a quick dance party, or even something as simple as sitting and listening can go a long way in relieving some built up stress from the day. Bonus points if you pretend you’re in your own music video (remember those??)
6. Step Outside
WellnessFX practitioner Kathie Madonna Swift, RD, MS advocates for making a point to “step outdoors each and every day and take in the sights, sounds, and scents of the season. Even if it’s 10-minutes laying in the grass, it could make a big difference on your day.“Being in nature, whether it is taking a long hike, rollerblading, biking, kayaking, or swimming in a pristine lake, is nourishing to your body, mind, and spirit.”
How WellnessFX Can Help
We believe that incorporating small, feasible changes over shorter periods of change can help you experience the motivation and confidence that comes from seeing your personal goals fulfilled.You don’t need to wait to get started – you can start incorporating healthy habits into your life with more ease than you may think.
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The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.