How to hack and reduce stress
Stress is one of our most vital life functions and is the body’s natural defense mechanism against predators and danger. It floods the body with hormones to prepare systems to evade or confront danger which is a mechanism we know as "fight or flight". Unfortunately, our bodies don't know the difference between a serious threat, like if we're being chased by a pack of lions, or an everyday challenge, like having a deadline we're struggling to meet, so we are constantly at risk of sending unnecessary stress signals to our body. We need stress to survive, but in todays technology driven, fast paced society finding balance between stress and peace is a struggle for many.
Stress is proven to affect you mentally and physically and can have lasting, dangerous effects on your health. Prolonged stress can lead to depression, anxiety, accelerated aging, decreased cognitive function, heart disease, obesity, drug and alcohol abuse, and a weakened immune system. For many, stress is so embedded in everyday life it becomes part of their personality, making them constantly prone to the effects of stress regardless of the scenarios they come up against.
We at H + CO are on an everlasting quest to reach our highest selves, so we bring you 3 ways to hack stress and find balance in your everyday life.
There’s good reason almost every blog post or article on de-stressing typically starts with breathing and meditation. Breath work is one of the fastest and most effective ways to relieve your mind and body of stress. One stress response is shallow, upper lung breathing which typically prolongs and worsens the physical symptoms you feel under stress because it sends signals to your brain that you’re not getting enough oxygen on top of the stressor that initially caused your breathing to change. Fortunately, this stress response can be controlled and reduced by using deep breathing techniques which sends calming signals to your brain and will make you feel more relaxed and reduce tension.
Below is a breathing technique you can try now.
Start by finding a quiet place to sit or lay down.
Place your hand on your stomach, then slowly and deeply breathe into your belly for a total of 6 seconds.
Hold the breath for another 6 seconds.
In a slow, controlled manner release the breath for another 6 seconds.
Repeat this process a total of 6 times.
Another great form of breath work is through meditation. A study published by the journal Psychiatry Research found that those who suffered from stress who took a mindfulness meditation course where they learned several different strategies reacted to stress better and had a lower hormonal and inflammatory response than people who didn’t practice mindfulness. Apps we love like Calm and Headspace can help get you started on your meditation journey.
Having a healthy diet is essential to feeling, looking, and living your best. Your diet and nutrition choices can actually help reduce stress by increasing the levels of hormones in the body that naturally fight it and lower the level of hormones that trigger it. Foods that are rich in Omega 3-6 fatty acids like the ones below walnuts, hemp seeds, flax seeds, salmon, avocados, and dark green vegetables can help reduce the physical and mental effects of stress. A 2011 study showed that students who were given daily Omega 3 supplementation for a 12 week duration had decreased levels of stress and anxiety by 20%. HEMPATHË + CO Hemp Oil Extract is an excellent source of Omega 3-6 Essential Fatty Acids. Whether taken straight from the dropper or mixed in with your morning coffee or post-workout shake, our hemp oil is the perfect addition to your daily supplementation routine.
Some foods to avoid that can increase inflammation and stress hormones in your body are sugar, processed foods, excessive caffeine, alcohol, and white flour products.
GIVE YOUR PHONE A BREAK The time we live in is nothing short of amazing. We have unlimited amounts of information on any subject right in our pockets we can access at any second of the day. We can stay more connected with friends and family members who live far from us, and can take and share beautiful quality photos and videos instantaneously.
Between texts, emails, updates, reminders, social media feeds and other distractions; our phones can be too much sometimes, and finding balance between digital life and real life is difficult for many. In fact, a 2011 UC Study revealed that we take in about 174 newspapers worth of information daily, which is five times more information we were exposed to in 1986. Primally, our minds were not built to receive and process this much information so it’s no surprise our phones can cause us stress. Below are some tips on how to find balance with your phone usage and adopt healthier digital habits.
The blue light your smart phone and other electronic devices emit delays your body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) and suppresses the release of the sleep inducing hormone melatonin. This can affect your ability to fall and stay asleep. Poor sleep quality is proven to be linked to higher stress, depression, and anxiety levels. 2-3 hours or so before bed be sure to turn on "Night Shift” mode on your phone which lessens the blue light emitted from your screen. Another even more effective alternative is to set a “phone curfew” and turn your devices off 1-2 hours before bed.
Smartphones emit harmful radio frequency energy which is absorbed by tissues in the body. Before going to bed turning your phone off and charging it in a different room can help lessen the damage these frequencies cause.
We’re all guilty of mindlessly scrolling through our social media feeds when we have an extra minute (or hours). And we all collectively know that off, unsettled feeling we have when we finish a scroll session. A study found that the more people used Facebook the less moment-to-moment happiness and less life satisfaction they felt. Another study discovered social media use is linked to greater feelings of social isolation. This is likely due to whats called the comparison factor. We see people post photos in beautiful places, at their best angles (sometimes enhanced by photoshop), doing fun and interesting things and fall into the trap of comparing our real lives to others ideal lives they portray through their photos. A great way to limit the amount of time you spend on social media is setting daily time limits through the Screen Time setting on your iPhone, or turning notifications off so you are less inclined to click the app and start scrolling.
Stress can be..stressful, but adopting healthier habits can help us deal with life's challenges in a way we never thought we could. What are some ways you like to de-stress? Leave your thoughts below in the comments!
- Peace and Love
H+ CO Team