Every one of us has heard that stress is bad for our health. I cover this topic quite a bit because as a board-certified naturopathic doctor, I believe that managing your stress is absolutely essential.
Here’s what I’ve learned: you can go about your busy life, giving-giving-giving and forgoing your own needs only for so long. At some point, it will all catch up with you and you’ll be exhausted, cranky, and unhappy with the number you see on the scale. You may even find yourself battling other health issues and getting sick more often.
In fact, here’s a list of just some of the negative effects of chronic stress:
- Weight gain — When you’re stressed, you may “eat your feelings,” and turn to food to self-medicate and make yourself feel better.
- Aging — When your stress hormone levels spike, you may experience an eventual drop in human growth hormone, which helps keep you young and lean. Chronic stress can also weaken the integrity of your skin’s collagen, leading to sagging and wrinkling.
- Healthy-lifestyle neglect — When you’re stressed or too busy giving to others, you may be more likely to turn to vices like alcohol, cigarettes, or junk food, or you may quit exercising or even short yourself on sleep.
Quite obviously, none of this supports the healthy lifestyle you want and need for yourself, so my advice? Stop the stress! Stop it now. Pronto. Starting today.
Enter: Stress Management
The good news is, stress management can be free… and even fun! Since you decide how you spend your time, YOU get to choose the habits and activities that will help you push the reset button and get out of the mess that is stress.
I know it may feel crazy for me to ask you to add more stuff to your schedule, but I promise that if you give your body a break from stress for only a few minutes a day, you can begin to reverse stress’s negative effects. So allowing yourself 30, 15, or even 5 minutes a day is definitely worth it to feel healthier, happier, and more energetic.
Ready to decompress? Here are some of my top tips for busting stress… quickly!
When was the last time you walked around barefoot? Outside.
Yes, like in the grass, sand, water… even the dirt.
This is actually a therapeutic practice called Earthing, and it’s a fantastic — and free — form of stress management.
Simply put, Earthing is when you place your bare skin (like the soles of your feet or the palms of your hands) on the Earth’s surface in order to exchange energy.
Why would you want to do this? Because the Earth’s surface is filled with free electrons that hold a negative charge. Those negative (good for you) particles help balance out the positive (bad for you) electrons that come from our phones and other electronic devices.
When you’re Earthing, you can absorb millions of those good-for-you negative particles, which makes you electrically grounded with the Earth and feeling strong, centered, balanced, and less stressed. All courtesy of Mother Nature.
Stress makes your breathing shallower, and shallow breathing makes you feel more stressed. Over time, this cycle becomes a downward spiral. When you break this pattern by learning to breathe correctly, you’re likely to see a big difference almost immediately.
Breathwork is an ancient practice that aids in alleviating stress, and it can even improve your sleep, blood pressure, and emotional responses. I believe so strongly in the power of breathwork that I created a whole Diggin In episode about it. You can check it out here and work on your breathing starting right this second.
RELATED: Find Natural Stress Relief Through Food and Supplements
Ah, the power of laughter. It truly is the best medicine!
Laughing makes you feel good all over by increasing blood flow to your organs, relieving discomforts, and, yes, easing your stress. It also burns calories. So while you’re reducing stress with a good belly laugh, you may also reduce your belly. Sounds like a double-win to me! (Plus, it’s fun!)
4. Get Outside
Schedule Mother Nature on your calendar. As often as you can.
Even if you can’t get in a full session of Earthing and you need to wear shoes, a hat, or even full-on snow gear, getting your body out of the confines of your home or office is key.
Research shows that spending a short time in a “green” environment like a park, yard, or forest can lower your stress. Plus, if you’re out on a sunny day, you’ll get natural exposure to vitamin D, which is a potent natural de-stressor and mood elevator.
5. Manage Your Yeses
Here’s a hard truth: When you say yes to everything, you’re sabotaging your health. Why? Because the stress that stems from overcommitment makes you sick. It lowers your immune function, making you easy prey for illness. It also sucks nutrients out of your body and makes your body churn out huge amounts of cortisol and other stress hormones. The next thing you know, you’re craving sugar, fats, and probably a bunch of other self-soothing habits that are no good for you.
Here’s my advice: Get comfortable with saying “No.” It may not be easy at first, but the sooner you take control of your own schedule and commitments, the less stressed you’ll feel. Your health is worth the initial icky feeling of learning how to use “No.” as a complete sentence. Try it out, starting today.
And how about a bonus tip, while we’re at it? If you like to sip something warm and comforting before bed, try Bone Broth. It’s my go-to for stress relief and overall wellness support. I didn’t earn the name Dr. Bone Broth for nothing. *wink-wink*
Between Bone Broth and these 5 tips, you can leave stress behind and become the healthiest version of yourself, living BIG and BOLD every day… just like you’re meant to!