The Cortisol Problem | Part 2 - Dealing With Stress
When it comes to coping with stress from everyday life, there are several options.
For example, some people adore de-stressing by utilizing the amazing benefits of physical exercise.
Others share their concerns/stress factors with a close friend or family member and gain a sense of moral support, which reduces stress levels.
There's also a third group of people who, no matter what they do, can't seem to get rid of their chronic stress.
Now, different things work for different people, so in this second article of the series, we’ll shed some light on the most viable stress-relieving methods.
Without further ado, let’s get to it!
#1 Physical Exercise
Engaging in physical activity is one of the best ways to deal with stress for a number of reasons.
Doing exercise will stimulate the body to secrete and release a flurry of nurturing substances and compounds, which will inevitably make you feel better.
Furthermore, due to the fact that there is a recovery period after your training bout, it is much easier for the body to get out of the stress response mode and kick into recovery mode - It has all the reasons to do so!
Generally, prolonged cardio workouts appear to elevate the stress hormone (cortisol) levels, unlike intense, resistance training.
That is to say that if you want physical exercise to help you eliminate stress, you are best off focusing on high-intensity, short power burst exercising, like weightlifting, sprinting, calisthenics, etc.
#2 Food, food, food!
More often than not, the lack of food is a common reason for being stressed or hangry (hungry and angry!).
Without a doubt, not having enough food in your system can make you flip your switch easily.
And so, if you’re feeling stressed out but cannot find a particular reason why that is so, just unwind and have a big, satiating meal.
For this purpose, you are best off eating nutrient-dense foods, such as meat, dairy, eggs, organs, vegetables, fruits, root crops and grains.
In doing this, you will kick into the so-called “rest and digest mode”, where the body prioritizes digestion, absorption and in turn, recovery.
And as you may or may not know - All of those are down regulated when you are stressed out!
#3 Swipe Left
When a stressful condition manifests in our conscious experience, it is a natural response for us to start thinking (and eventually overthinking) about it.
The first thought of this stressor is generated by the brain, and then, some moments later, another similar thought is generated.
Then another, then another and another.
All of these thoughts combined create a story that your brain starts believing and eventually, manifests in your reality.
Usually, that story is the worst case scenario possible - This is because your brain is bracing for the worst, so that you can cope with the situation no matter what it is.
And though that is good, it generally brings a lot of stress, which slowly but surely drains you.
Now, these things are automatic but they are not really beyond your control.
When a stressful thought pops up, you can either latch onto it and follow the similar thought-creating pattern, or, you can stay emotionally neutral and choose what to do with that thought.
Whenever you have a stressful thought, be it about your ex, your job or your family, try to just mentally swipe it left and throw it in the bin.
In doing so, you will eliminate any fear, doubt and insecurity, which will in turn open up space for more constructive, positive thoughts.
This type of internal regulation is perhaps the best method to deal with stress, as it goes directly to the root cause of stress - Your perception of it.
In the past, the stress response was something vital, as it helped us run or fight anything that threatens our lives in the wild environment.
Nowadays however, we live in big, modern cities where death by predation is highly unlikely.
The same stress response gets triggered by harmless things like our work place, school or family.
Unfortunately, the stress response is automatic and more often than not, it takes over.
However, there are things you can do to buffer and deal with it.
In terms of self-care, the best you can do for stress management, is to regularly engage in physical activity, eat good food and sleep well.
These things however will just push your biochemistry to a more balanced stress.
The real solution for stress can be found on the conscious level, where you can observe and regulate your PERCEPTION & RESPONSE to stress.
This is where the magic happens.