Living in today’s world is nearly impossible without encountering stress. So today I’d like to talk to you about the correlation between stress, inflammation, and chronic disease, and teach you a few ways to deal with it. Modern days lifestyle, where we have to juggle between too many things at once, where we are less connected with nature, don’t breathe a lot of fresh air, don’t get enough physical activity, and sit for too many hours, causes us to be under constant stress, ALL THE TIME.
We probably don’t make enough time to take care of our mental and physical health, and just react to what is coming down at us, instead of being proactive and preventing all these illnesses in advance.
Have you ever had that clenching feeling in your stomach, before a big presentation at work or a major life event? Understanding the Mind-Body connection, will help us understand how being under constant stress can cause inflammation in the body.
Emotions cause physiologic responses that can influence health. Certain parts of the brain are associated with specific emotions and specific hormone patterns. The release of certain hormones is associated with various emotional responses, and those hormones affect health.
Inflammation in the body causes all kinds of chronic disease. From skin conditions, digestive issues, insomnia and trouble sleeping, high blood pressure, weight gain, weakened immune system, heart disease, to joint pain, just to name a few. By understanding how to manage our stress, we can ease and even eliminate all these symptoms.
Below I will share a list of techniques, and ways anyone can easily use, to help the body distress, reduce inflammation, increase the “feel good” hormones and hence probably get better.
- Grounding (earthing) – so simple yet so effective. By walking barefoot on the grass / earth / soil, we simply ground our energy and connect with mother earth. This has been researched and proven to be effective in reducing inflammation and joint pain. Do it for 15 minutes a day or purchase a grounding mat / sheets.
- Yoga – so hard to capture it all in one or two sentences. But this ancient practice can bring so much peace into one’s life, simply by being present and breathing. It has also been known to reduce back pain.
- Meditation – a great practice that I believe should be taught at school. Simply sitting still in a comfortable position and focus on nothing but the present moment, appreciating all that is in and around you. By sitting still and focusing on the present moment, our body and mind immediately feel better and feel like there is nothing to worry about. When I practice meditation, I find answers to many questions that have been bothering me.
- Dance – by moving our bodies to our favorite music, we immediately release stress. Musing and movement have healing properties since ancient times.
- Go out to nature – taking in big amounts of oxygen, connecting to the stillness of nature, hearing the birds sing, listening to the stream flowing. What could be more relaxing than that?
- High intensity physical activity – running, dancing, spinning, HIIT, or anything else to you liking.
- Make love more often – by making love, cuddling and kissing, our body releases the “feel good hormones:
- Dopamine. Also known as the “feel-good” hormone, dopamine is a hormone and neurotransmitter that’s an important part of your brain’s reward system. Dopamine is associated with pleasurable sensations, along with learning, memory, motor system function, and more.
- Serotonin. This hormone (and neurotransmitter) helps regulate your mood as well as your sleep, appetite, digestion, learning ability, and memory.
- Oxytocin. Often called the “love hormone,” oxytocin is essential for childbirth, breastfeeding, and strong parent-child bonding. This hormone can also help promote trust, empathy, and bonding in relationships, and oxytocin levels generally increase with physical affection like kissing, cuddling, and sex.
- Endorphins. Endorphins are your body’s natural pain reliever, which your body produces in response to stress or discomfort. Endorphin levels also tend to increase when you engage in reward-producing activities, such as eating, working out, or having sex.
- Guided imagery – a little bit like meditation, but here we want to engage all of our senses in a “mock-up” experience. In guided imagery, we will imagine we are in our happy place, feeling it with all of our senses. We will tell the brain that everything is now perfect and we are relaxed and happy. Our subconscious will believe us and will start releasing those “feel good” hormones and our bodies will start to relax. I really like to do it before bed. It helps me fall asleep more easily. This is something I can walk you through as part of my one-on-one coaching sessions.
- Progressive muscle relaxation – this is another technique I teach as part of my workshops and one-on-one coaching sessions. In this technique we will teach our bodies what it feels like to be relaxed. This is a great one to practice before bed.
- Essential oils – One of my go-to’s when I feel stressed and overwhelmed with life, or having hard time sleeping. Essential oils are also safe to use with young kids (mostly). Essential oils are pure extracts of flowers, plants and fruits, and have very strong healing properties. You can use them by diffusing, using directly on your skiing, or inhaling.
- Breathing techniques – did you know that up to 70% of our bodily “waste” is removed through our breath? There are many breathing exercises that you can easily learn to help you destress through breathing.
- Talking about it – It is very toxic to keep you feeling bottled up. It is important that you share and talk about it. Share with your partner, with a good friend or a therapist. It will make you feel better. And who knows, maybe they will also have good advice for you!
- Herbs and supplements – there are many herbs and supplements that are used in herbal medicine and naturopathy. You should always consult with a health care practitioner before taking any over the counter herbs or supplements. One of the things I do in my one-on-one coaching is matching the right supplements to deal with a specific condition.
- Homeopathy – Homeopathy is a medical system based on the belief that the body can cure itself. Those who practice it use tiny amounts of natural substances, like plants and minerals. They believe these stimulate the healing process.
- Diet – this is a big topic, and I will talk about it in my next post “Food choices, inflammation and chronic disease”
Which of the techniques above do you like to use?
I’m always here for any questions, and of course one on one coaching and workshops.
Wishing you all a great summer time!