How to better manage stress levels.
Let's have a look into the effect stress can have on our overall health. There have been many studies done on stress levels and how our bodies respond to stressful situations.
Firstly, when we are stressed, our bodies go into fight or flight mode to handle the situation. Why does this happen? Our stress hormone, cortisol, increases during stressful, tensed situations.
What exactly happens when you face a stressful situation?
Firstly, your hormones are triggered and your body secretes cortisol. Cortisol makes the body aware of the stress and prepares it for a fight or flight response. When this happens your body produces glucose to supply the body with instant energy. When cortisol levels increase, it suppresses insulin production to ensure that glucose is not stored and rather used immediately. The person will then address the situation and hormone levels return to normal levels.
What can be done to lower stress levels?
There are many things we can do to make sure our stress levels do not increase all the time and even to prevent stress levels from remaining high.
What goes into your body of course plays a very significant role in decreasing stress levels. It is very important to eat a diet rich in in fruit and vegetables, whole grains, fiber, nuts, seeds and legumes. It is also best to lower caffeine and alcohol, saturated and trans-fats.
Exercising can play an important role in relieving stress. However, very intense workouts can increase cortisol levels, therefore try a lower intensity jog or cycling session instead. Meditation is another means of decreasing stress levels. Our mind has a strong impact on our food intake and therefore finding ways to clear your mind and relax can decrease the amount of impulsive food cravings.
Making sure you get enough sleep can also play a significant role in managing stress levels. When you are sleep deprived, your body battles with more than one problem – stress and tiredness. This adds to more stress on the body and more cravings. Make sure to get a good night’s rest.
Getting regular massages is an effective treatment to help decrease stress levels. Massages can help decrease stress by lowering the heart rate, relaxing the muscles and soft tissues in the body, releasing endorphins, increasing body temperature and blood circulation which all promote relaxation. Here's how:
An increase of body temperature and blood circulation is stimulated by applying friction against the skin. Increased blood circulation delivers more blood to the muscles which in turn relieves tension.
Endorphins released can calm the peripheral nervous system. The function of the peripheral nervous system is the communication between the brain and the body's extremities. Massages can stimulate "feel good" hormones into the peripheral nervous system allowing a message of calmness to be communicated. When endorphins are released, stress related hormones are decreased therefore relieving the feeling of stress.