Stress is a downer. When it comes to managing it, I think we could all use a little help. Personally, this is one of the biggest things I struggle with in terms of health and wellness. On a daily basis I’m thinking about my relationships, full time job, building a business, and keeping my health a priority… just to name a few. Stress in one area seems to overflow into every other. i’m not great at compartmentalizing all of these responsibilities, so if I am stressed at my job or feeling like I’m not giving growing my business the best focus, it shows in every area of my life. The overwhelm creeps in and it can be paralyzing. Instead of acknowledging that I don’t have the energy required for one task, I’ll dwell on it and my productivity in every space suffers.
I have some strategies and routines that are crucial in helping me manage my stress, and avoid unnecessary stress all together. Having these routines in place helps me avoid the overwhelm and keeps my life running smoothly. I’m not perfect at this… this week has been a doozy, but it also helps me recognize how much of an impact routines can make. Writing this series its purpose to me as a reminder of this, and hopefully can help you reduce your stress as well.
Besides the fact that I am sure you’re a little nicer when your stress is managed, why is reducing stress so crucial? Cortisol is our stress hormone. When we are stressed our cortisol levels spike, and our sleep, energy levels, and ability to manage situations are effected. High cortisol puts us into fight or flight mode which is why you start to feel anxious and your heart starts racing when a stressful situation hits. For the most part when we think stress we think emotional or mental stress, but it goes beyond our emotions, and effects our physical being as well. Most of us are living in a state of chronic stress, leaving our bodies feeling like they are in a constant state of low grade danger, eventually causing issues such as adrenal fatigue. Studies have linked stress to premature aging as it shortens telomeres in cells faster. When our bodies are in a chronic state of stress, high cortisol levels will cause fat to store rather than burn, especially in women. Hormones are also hugely effected by stress. Progesterone is required for cortisol production, so low progesterone occurs. Low progesterone and high cortisol are usually present when dealing with infertility and miscarriage. Also hugely effected is sleep papers, and often people dealing with high cortisol struggle with insomnia. Digestive upset is also common with high stress. As for disease, stress is known to be the number one cause of heart disease, so lets reduce that risk, shall we?
Some of my favourite ways to reduce + prevent stress include:
Routines. For me, a big part of stress management is having routines. Routines help me feel like things are in order, even if everything else that day feels scattered. Some of these include Sunday meal prep, waking up early so I don’t feel rushed, morning bulletproof and gratitude journal, and exercise. Even just turning on the dishwasher before bed, and unloading it while I make my coffee in the morning. Some of these are easier for me to stay consistent with than others, but when I have all or most of these in place I find it much easier to manage my stress, and my productivity also increases.
Adaptogens. Another example of ancient medicine making a comeback in the 21st century. Adaptogens are great to physically support your body when it encounters stress. Adaptogens are a variety of herbal remedies used in traditional chinese medicine that promote health, vitality, and immunity while working to reduce inflammation. They essentially help our bodies cope and adapt to the stresses of everyday life. Ashwaganda, astragalus, chug, and cordyceps are common favourites. Ashwaganda is easy to add to smoothies or bulletproof while chaga makes a great coffee/tea substitute.
Gratitude practice. A few months back I purchased the ever popular 5 Minute Journal. It’s a great way to set some goals or desires for the day and also reflect back on the things you’re grateful for. Practicing gratitude really helps to put things into perspective and remind yourself of what matters most. I definitely notice a better mood when I start my mornings like this.
A clean space. This is probably the most important for me . I don’t function well in a messy, cluttered space. Cue the overwhelm and rising stress levels. i find it so important to go to sleep with a clean house so I know I can start my day without a to do list of things to clean up.
Essential oils. Diffusing or applying oils topically is a daily habit for me. There is an oil for every situation or ailment, and my obsession is real. For stress and anxiety, I absolutely LOVE Vetiver, Balance or Neroli. I have Balance diffusing in our office all day, and a Neroli rollerball with me at all times, which I apply over the heart. doTERRA oils forever, because no other quality compares and most essential oils on the market contain fragrance, carrier oils, or other fillers.
Exercise. This is probably what I am least consistent with, but it is so important. Physical health, mental health… they all benefit, which we have been told a million times, I know. Find something you love. For me it is spinning, hiking, walking. Being physically active creates endorphins, the happy mood neurotransmitters. “Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy,a nd happy people just don’t kill their husbands.” Gotta love a Legally Blonde takeaway.
What are your favourite stress management techniques? Does having a routine make an impact for you?