How To Actually Lower Stress on Your Body

You might have heard or been trying to follow the conventional advice to lower stress like meditate, breathing, getting a massages, or taking a bath. And while those might help in the moment, it’s important to support your body’s resiliency to stress instead of just simply trying to “lower” it.

The approach I recommend is more long term and takes into consideration supporting your body’s stress tolerance and stress response while also reducing and removing the stressors that are within your control.

Stress is cumulative – the intensity, duration, and frequency of each stressor all fill up your “stress bucket”.

My 4 step process walks you through exactly how to do this:

Step 1: Recognize.

There are different types of stressors out there, some of which we put on ourselves without even realizing it. What gets measured gets managed – this applies to the stress in your life as well. Even though you might just feel like you have a lot of stress and it’s hard to quantify, you can actually pinpoint the types of stressors and possibly identify stress that is filling up your bucket without you even realizing it. Here are some examples of where stress can come from:

  • Physical stress – too much exercise, lack of sleep, increased demand from your job, acting as a caretaker, surgery, infections, injuries, chronic digestive issues etc.
  • Dietary stress – undereating or restricting calories, eating processed foods, not eating enough nutrient dense foods, eating foods that are causing inflammation
  • Social stress – Pressure from peers, tension in relationships (spouse or children), difficulty with relationships at work, etc.
  • Emotional stress – emotionally demanding job (therapist, educator, physician, health professional, etc.), emotional abuse from close relationships, history of PTSD or other emotional trauma, divorce, etc.
  • Environmental stress – Poor air quality, spending the majority of your day indoors, working in a stressful environment (lots of noise, bright lights, etc.), exposure to chemicals, etc. 
  • Health related stress – chronic medical conditions (high blood pressure, metabolic disease, high cholesterol, etc.), hormone imbalances, nutrient deficiencies, history of depression/anxiety, etc.

Make a checklist or just do a brain dump of which ones might be on your plate right now.

Step 2: Reduce or eliminate.

Once you get clear on what stressors are filling up your bucket right now, you can decide which ones to reduce and which ones to eliminate. This might require delegating tasks, saying no to certain things, and prioritizing what is most important to you.

For the ones that are out of your control – like having to wake up every hour to feed a baby – keep in mind that this is something that is temporary and commit to what you will do to support your body once it’s over. For example, even though you know you’re only getting 4 hours of sleep a night, once the baby sleeps better you will make it a priority to get to bed by 10pm consistently.

Just knowing that there’s a “light at the end of the tunnel” can help you to better handle the stress at hand rather than anticipate future stress that doesn’t exist.

Step 3: Manage.

There are stress that will exist no matter what because of our modern day life and expectations. To try to meet this mismatch of how our body’s are designed to thrive and how we actually are expected to show up everyday, it’s important to manage the day to day as best as you can. This is where techniques like breathing, meditation, morning and evening routines, cultivating calm throughout the day, walks, and

The other key piece with managing is knowing when there might be too much filling up your bucket and deciding what you have to scale back on.

For example, if you only got 5 hours of sleep, are having a ton of digestive issues lately, and are stressed at work, it actually might not be a good time to push yourself hard at the gym. It also isn’t a good time to try to do intermittent fasting or drink 3 cups of coffee throughout the day.

And remember, if weight loss is your goal or you want to have more energy and keep inflammation low, cutting calories, skipping meals, and trying to workout more is going to be counterproductive.

Step 4: Support.

If you take nothing else away from this article, this is the last but most important step to focus on. You can support your body intentionally with day to day habits that are within your control, listen to your body so you know when things are “off”, and give it what it needs. Too often we just try to grind through the day and ignore our body’s signals like hunger, cravings, fatigue, irritability, anxiety. These are important messages and rather than just powering through or going to the doctor when they feel unmanageable, you can actually give your body extra support in some areas that are often overlooked.

Here’s how to actually support your body to keep stress low and better handle stress when it’s high:

  1. Eating enough calories. I see women do this both intentionally by trying to follow a low calorie, low fat, low carb to try to lose weight and unintentionally with “clean eating” or just skipping meals and not fueling their body with nutrient dense foods. If you’re eating anything less than 1800 calories, your body is going to be under stress. Simplify fueling your body properly and knowing what that looks like based on your activity levels — not a one size fits all 1500 calorie template from a magazine — is the best way to reduce stress, manage cravings and hunger, lose fat, improve your metabolism, and balance your hormones. I cover this more in my free Well Nourished Woman Guide that you can download HERE.
  2. Balancing blood sugar. The best way to start doing this is by eating a balance of quality protein, fat, and carbohydrates with each meal. Strategies that I teach my clients to improve blood sugar imbalance also include proper meal timing, more carbs at certain times of the day, reducing caffeine, and prioritizing sleep. Many women make the mistake of fueling their day with mostly carbs (yogurt and berries and oatmeal for breakfast, quinoa bowl for lunch, lentil pasta for dinner) and lack the protein and fats to balance it out.
  3. 8 hours of sleep without waking up. Even if you’re someone who feels like you’ve never slept well, have always had trouble falling asleep, or wake up throughout the night, I promise you that with the right strategies, routines, and habits (both in the morning and evening) you can improve your sleep. The first step is making it a priority and knowing how important it is not only to lowering stress but also to balancing your blood sugar which means more energy and less cravings throughout the day.
  4. No digestive distress (daily bowel movements). Yes, you should be pooping 1-2x a day and not relying on Miralax or coffee to “get things going”. With my clients, we look at the root cause of their digestive issues and fix their chronic bloating, constipation, reflux, cramping, and inflammation. Even if you’ve dealt with digestive issues your whole life or been diagnosed with IBS, there is a reason for it and you don’t have to live it forever.
  5. Sunlight. Getting direct sunlight before 10am can do wonders for your stress, sleep, blood sugar, and mood. With this one habit alone you’ll see huge improvements. I recommend at least 15 minutes with no sunglasses or windows, exposing as much skin as possible.
  6. Movement. Your body is meant to move, but not in the way we force it to with hour long spin classes and CrossFit 6 days a week. The best movement is walking outside and just moving your body in a way that feels good. This plus a good strength training routine with proper recovery time will increase your stress resilience, support your hormones, and improve your metabolic health. Rather than increasing cortisol (your stress hormone) with a HIIT workout than sitting on your butt the rest of the day, you want to focus on movement throughout the day. When other stress is low and you’re doing all of the above, you can add in some more intense workouts.

If you made it this far, you’re probably very aware that you need to work on these strategies and maybe wondering how you can start to put it all into action with a plan that makes sense for you.

If you’re ready take an approach that actually works for you and put together a step by step with support, guidance, and accountability, then you can fill out an application to work together HERE.

Ready to discover how to fuel your body so you can support your energy, hormones, metabolism, & weight ….without dieting, restricting, or stressing about food?

Download my FREE Well Nourished Woman Guide here

& Learn the 6 key strategies that will help you ditch the cravings for good, improve your energy, balance your hormones, & lose weight easily without stressing over calories, exercise, and food rules.

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