We all know stress (COVID-19 anyone?) wreaks havoc on every system in our body all the way from our head to our toes. When the body is constantly experiencing levels of distress, also known as chronic stress, hormones like cortisol (aka the “stress hormone”) and adrenaline flood our system. When stress hormones flood our system, it can put our bodies and minds into chronic or temporary “fight or flight” mode via our autonomic nervous system. Our heart rate goes up, we breathe more heavily (requiring more oxygen) and our blood vessels constrict. This adaptation was useful in the era of pre-civilization because it would increase the blood flow to our heart and muscles to help us escape from predators and dangerous situations. However, we find ourselves in a very different position in the modern world, where our bodies still react in similar ways. The good news? Just as our bodies have a stress response, our bodies also have a “relaxation response” during which your breathing slows, your blood pressure decreases and you even use less oxygen.
Below are 5 helpful ways to de-stress during times of distress.
Go for a walk
Try and find a quiet place to go for a short (or long) walk in nature. Being outdoors can do wonders for the mind, body, and soul. If you live in the city and are in need of some trees, you can look up great spots on Urban Greenery. Not an option either? No matter where you find yourself, walking can boost levels of endorphins, which in turn reduces levels of cortisol helping you feel less stressed!
Breathe and Meditate
According to Harvard Medical School, deep controlled breathing helps relax the body, mind, and can help put you in such a state of relaxation that you are actually meditating and probably not even aware of it. Studies show if you meditate for 10 -15 minutes three or four times weekly, it reduces your cortisol levels and inflammation in your body. Research also shows it helps prevent the breakdown of your chromosomes that can lead to premature aging.
One of the many amazing benefits of taking CBD oil is its ability to lower hormones that produce stress and anxiety. While research is ongoing, it is being reported that everything is influenced by how cannabinoids impact the endocannabinoid system (ECS). In theory, CBD could help inhibit the production of stress hormones, which allows the body to better regulate pain, body temperature, and inflammation. A study by Jadoon K. A., published in JCI Insight in June 2017 concluded that a dose of 600mg of CBD oil can reduce blood pressure, thus reducing heart rate, which in turn leads to a calmer body and mind. A double-blind study by Masataka N was published in Frontiers in Psychology in November 2019, and concluded that CBD can help with social anxiety and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The major take home from this is to make sure you are purchasing CBD oil from a reputable source and a company that is completely transparent. Our favorite brand at CryoEffect is CYTO CBD.
Exercise! Exercise! Exercise!
It is common knowledge these days that exercise prevents and helps a variety of physical and mental health issues. Not only will exercise help increase the feel good hormones, but it will help your “fight or flight” (aka stress) response become less severe over time. If you are new to exercising, remember that any movement is better than no movement at all.Try scheduling your workouts with a friend, it will help keep you accountable.
Whole Body Cryotherapy
It may sound a bit counterintuitive since Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) induces short term stress during a session due to the cold stimulating the body’s Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) creating that “fight or flight” stress. However, after the three quick minutes are over and you step out of the cryo tank, your body sends all this supercharged and oxygenated blood outward, providing an improved state of healing or recovery. Beneficial hormones such as endorphins, adrenaline, oxytocin and others are produced and infused throughout the body. The release of these all natural anti-anxiety hormones results in improved mood, more energy, and less inflammation, which automatically reduces stress.
If you are someone who experiences anxiety, try one or all of these things in conjunction. See how you feel afterwards. While some of these may not get rid of anxiety and stress permanently, it will definitely reduce the amount of stress allowing you to cope better. An added bonus: they are all natural ways to manage stress!