How To Know When You Are Stressed & Tips To Reduce Stress
Part of the problem nowadays for many people is that stress has become so omnipresent in our lives, many people have trouble even identifying that they are stressed, because it is so seldom that they are not! So today, we are going to review some of the classic signs and symptoms of stress and adrenal fatigue first so you can become more self aware of your health and stress levels. Then, we are going to talk about simple, easy to do tips to help ratchet down your stress levels on any given day!
Classic Signs Of Stress Affecting Your Health
Again, some of these signs and symptoms have become so common in so many people that you may be surprised to hear that they are not ‘normal’, in optimal states of health. These tell-tales signs include:
- Morning fatigue—needing one, two+ cups of coffee to get going
- Chronic muscle aches—tight neck, back muscles are especially common
- The need for sugar or caffeine ‘fixes’, especially around 10 am and mid-afternoon!
- Trouble falling or staying asleep—restless sleep or having difficulty calming your mind down when trying to sleep
- Menstrual irregularities for women. Chronic stress can deplete and deregulate hormone levels produced primarily in the ovaries, which are closely connected to our adrenals and thyroid glands!
- Drop in libido (i.e. sex drive). Sexual energy is essentially ‘excess’ energy; we don’t need it to survive ourselves, but we need it to procreate. When our body is stressed, hormone levels can drop due to the body using them to make other stress hormones like cortisol, leading our libido levels to fall!
- Increased irritability and/or anxiety. This can be related to changes in hormone levels, chemical messenger levels in our brains (called neurotransmitters), and perceived lower levels of energy to ‘tolerate’ annoyances.
- Hypoglycemia and craving sweets, salt and fat! When our adrenals are continually stressed, over time this can affect our ability to regulate our blood sugar and insulin levels appropriately, due to elevated cortisol levels and plunging serotonin stores. This can cause massive swings in our blood sugar, leading us to crave sweets, salt, and fat to try and compensate. Testing for reactive hypoglycemia could be just one of many things Total Vitality may do to help you further assess your situation and stress levels.
So, what can we do about these things? Well, thankfully, a lot!! Here are our 5 top tips to easily help dial down the stress!
Many people forget to breathe deeply and instead take shallow chest breaths. This does not provide us with all the oxygen we need, allows for CO2 to build up (acidifying our tissue and causing more muscle tension!), and often contributes to fatigue (as our cells are starving for oxygen)! Simply take 10 slow, controlled breaths, each last approximately 5-6 seconds total from intake to exhale and this in itself will allow the different ‘arms’ of the nervous system to start to better balance (i.e. take us out of fight and flight mode) (Lam, M. and D. Lam, 2012).
This doesn’t mean train for a marathon or something extreme. It means something modest for a lot of people—swimming for 30 minutes, a yoga or pilates class, some strength training, going for a jog, etc. Depending on your fitness level, this can vary but exercise greatly improves circulation, delivers oxygen, improves blood sugar control, and many, many other benefits!
3. Get More Sleep
!We’ve already talked about this, but most people start the day out already behind because they didn’t get enough sleep! We would suggest 7.5-9 hours nightly!
4. Simplify Your Life!
With the advent of the computer, the cell phone, the IPAD, etc., etc., our lives get more and more connected and often cluttered. Taking some time to reflect on your priorities and what is truly most important in your life can help you get rid of many distractions and unnecessary ‘time stealers’ in your day to day living that can give you more time for balance in your life!
5. Schedule Fun!
Having something fun to look forward to do in your day or week can really provide a mood boost and can also often help you be more focused and productive in your work as you anticipate your ‘fun time!’