How to reduce stress naturally

As a self employed working mother of two teenage children, one dog, one husband and ageing parents I know only too well how life can become stressful all too quickly.

Unfortunately, our bodies are simply not designed to be constantly stressed but rather designed for reacting to the stress response in terms survival when facing danger (fight) and running away (flight) from a sabre tooth tiger whilst hunting for food. In modern times, the stress response is triggered several times a day and eventually this has a knock on effect on our bodies.

Don’t get me wrong, a little stress in our lives is good for us. It is what gets us up and about and taking action but constant, relentless long term stress can have devastating effects on your life.

Our bodies have an amazing capability to try and retain homeostasis (balance) and so when we are stressed our brain (hypothalamus) sends a message to the pituitary gland using the autonomic nervous system to release a hormone (ACTH) which alerts the adrenal glands to¬†excrete cortisol, adrenaline and nor-adrenaline. These three hormones trigger the body’s systems to go into hyper alertness:

  • Pupils dilate to allow better vision
  • Heart beats faster to enable the blood to pump quicker to the muscles ready for action (to runaway)
  • Body temperature rises (sweating occurs)
  • Digestive system shuts down (hunger subsides)

As a result of too much stress we can end up with too much cortisol which can lead to anxiety.

Furthermore, as cortisol is a catabolic (it breaks down) hormone. If there is too much cortisol in the body it can block proteins in the food we eat from being able to travel to the muscle where it is needed and instead it is shunted to the liver and stored as energy in the form of glycogen. This is known as Gluco-neo-genesis or Making new sugar. If we do not exercise and use up this stored energy this can lead to a fatty liver.

Exercise is so important for stress management for 3 reasons:

1. It reduces the cortisol levels, thereby reducing anxiety and helps activate the immune system

2. It allows our minds to rest and our bodies to release tension which improves mood, concentration and learning.

3. Long term exercise is more effective than prescribed medication.

The way in which our world works today, there is no getting away from stress and so a habit of regular activity and healthy diet can make a HUGE difference to your wellbeing. So if you wish to maintain the balance, making time for exercise will help you. Try to incorporate it into your day whether it be walking up stairs rather than taking a lift; leaving public transport one stop before your destination and walking the rest of the way or taking up a fun exercise class or sport with friends.

When stress gets hold of you the impact is tiredness, lethargy and brain fog.

If you are already feeling at this point try to start with a gentle walk and build up from there. You will soon start to feel the benefits.

Ignoring your stress levels can eventually led to cortisol no longer being produced which can result in “burn out”. I have seen countless executives that have gone from suffering panic attacks (whilst cortisol is too high – Stage 2 of Stress) to complete “burn out” where cortisol has rock bottomed.

Listen to your body and learn from those early warning signs and do something about it before it affects you and your life beyond recognition.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

FREE E-BOOK Eating Mindfully for Health

Enter your details below to receive your FREE "Eating Mindfully for Health" E-book directly to your email inbox.

Thank You

Thank you for requesting our free e-book. Please check your email inbox.