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All stress, whether it's actual or perceived stress (worry we make up in our heads), cause a physiological response in our body. The brain triggers your adrenal glands, which sit on top of your kidneys, to release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline speeds up heart rate, increases blood pressure and boosts energy. Cortisol, which is the primary stress hormone, shifts energy away from the digestive and immune systems to prepare for an "alarmed" state and increases blood sugar levels and the brain's uptake of glucose.
While some stress can be positive, the problem arises when there is ongoing, chronic stress – when one worry or stress is followed by another, and it just seems like it never ends. Day-to-day demands, worry, tension and poor lifestyle habits cause your adrenals to fire constantly, and cortisol levels are released in excess.
Here are some of the chronic effects that excess cortisol has on your body:
All this stressing you out? No need to fret – here are some simple solutions that help your body cope.
1. Add Adaptogens
Adaptogenic herbs such as Maca, increase the body's resistance to stress, and ability to 'adapt'. It helps to alleviate anxiety, stress and trauma by restoring the body's natural balance and homeostasis. Maca improves hormonal communication (without effecting blood hormone levels) and mitigates levels of cortisol, helping your body respond to stress.
2. Eat foods rich in Vitamins B and C.
B-vitamins are stress-busting. They are essential in the production of our feel-good neurotransmitters. And while B6 is especially important in terms of busting stress, it's also the first to be depleted in the presence of stress.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that also helps curb the large spikes in cortisol as a response to mental stress. Foods rich in Vitamin C include camu camu, maca, red peppers, strawberries and black currents; while foods rich in B6 include raw cashews, red peppers, spinach and bananas.
3. Get some good shut-eye.
Sleep helps regulate cortisol levels. And although it's stress that keeps you awake, try adding calming herbs and teas to your bed time ritual, such as tulsi (holy basil), chamomile, lemon balm or passionflower tea.
4. Balance exercise, relaxation and sleep
Exercise releases endorphins increasing your feeling of happiness. Yoga and meditation in particular help to calm your mind, engage your breath and boost your spirit. Sleep also helps regulate cortisol levels. And although it's stress that keeps you awake, try adding calming herbs and teas to your bed time ritual, such as tulsi (holy basil), chamomile, lemon balm or passionflower tea.
5. Think positively
Most of the stress in our life is perceived stress - things wecreate in our head. Change the way you look at and think about things. Find a new perspective. Always think in the positive. Shiny, happy thoughts!
6. Laugh it off!
Take a deep breath and … LAUGH OUT LOUD! Laughter really isthe best medicine!