By Andrew StrattonStress makes life a lot harder to live. Most people think that the only way to relieve stress is to have money to pay for traditional luxury stress-relievers. What if there was a cheap way to fix your stress? Not only to fix it, but to help prevent it? Well, there are ways to do just that.
Almost every person alive is affected by some level of stress in one way or another. There are many people that think you have to be well-off in order to fight stress. You might see commercials for spas, golf weekends, massages or expensive getaway gear like boats or jets.
What if you found ways to alleviate stress without having to spend the money? Of course it would be nice to do those things, but what if you're not in the position to spend money?
First, you should understand how stress works. When a stressful situation arises, over 1,300 changes can occur in your body. Your blood pressure may rise, your muscles may feel tenser and your digestion might get upset. When you get extremely stressed, your body robs itself of the vital vitamins and minerals that it needs.
It takes a lot of energy to tense and un-tense muscles, to regulate body temperature and to aid in digestion and blood pressure. The vitamin B that your body would normally use for other things gets depleted. Vitamin B helps maintain nerves and brain cells.
Getting enough vitamin B will help you think logically in stressful times and will help your nerves remain calm. Another thing that happens when you get stressed out is that your serotonin level dips to a low point. This makes you crave carbohydrates, a main source of serotonin. This isn't necessarily good because it's what makes you reach for that bowl of potatoes when times are hard. Too much carbohydrate consumption can lead to excessive weight gain.
It is important to try and keep your body at a good level all the time. For vitamins B, C, and the mineral magnesium, you can eat bananas, avocados, fish, chicken and dark green and leafy vegetables. When you're in a particularly stressful situation, grabbing one of these things as a quick, light snack can help your body fight its natural reaction to what's going on.
In addition, make your carb consumption full of complex carbs that are made of whole grains (think brown, not white) and your serotonin levels will be less able to fluctuate in times of trouble.
Doing these things will help you fight the stressful times in your life and the best thing about it is that prevention can be half the battle. If you're able to prevent stress and better cope with it, then the expensive fixes will cause less frustration in your life and with these tools, you can have a less stressful life.
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By Sam VisnicWhat is Cortisol?
Cortisol is the primary stress hormone that is secreted by the 2 cap-sized glands that are located on top of your kidneys in response to stress. It has been described as a low-grade adrenaline.
Mother nature equipped us with this hormone to assist us in situations where we had to “fight-or-flight” such as running from a lion or other predator. Its job is to quickly convert stored energy sources in the body into usable energy to save your life. This is one of its good points. In the old days, there weren’t too many situations in which we were triggered into a fight-or-flight situation. Today, however, stress responses are everywhere. We as a society are constantly stressing out over bills, going to work, relationships, poor food choices, dehydration, overtraining with exercise, lack of adequate sleep, and those are just for starters! Every time the body becomes stressed, cortisol is released from the adrenal glands to combat the stressors on the chemical side.
This chronic elevation in cortisol is extremely detrimental to your health. It has been linked to, but not limited to, adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalances, heart disease, excessive blood sugar levels, elevated cholesterol, and pretty much anything else you can think of that stress can create in the human body.
Other unwanted side effects of chronically elevated cortisol levels include excess bodyfat, particularly around the midsection, and depressed sex hormone levels, which kills the sex drive in both men and women. It also breaks down muscle tissue, which can really put a hold on your results in the gym.
Cortisol is naturally secreted in the body on a pretty set schedule throughout the day. It peaks at about 8am to get you out of bed and ready to start your day. Throughout the day, cortisol levels begin to drop off and reach their lowest at about 8-10 pm so that you can fall asleep. A cortisol rhythm that is disrupted by chronic stress, both mentally and physically, can impair your ability to fall asleep or even stay asleep.
I have been able to assist many of my clients improve their sleep consistency and quality simply by cutting their stress levels down, and using the tips that I am about to give you. The following tips will assist you in decreasing your cortisol levels and allow you to improve your health and achieve your ideal body.
Ways to Reduce your Cortisol:
1. Use cortisol reduction supplements: I use a variety of herbs in my clinic to reduce cortisol at peak times. Some of my favorites include: ashwaghanda, phosphatidylserine, and rhodiola rosea.
2. Eat at regular intervals throughout the day: Avoid skipping meals, as this will create a cortisol release.
3. Eat right for your Metabolic Type: Excessive carbohydrate intake creates cortisol release in response to constantly elevated insulin levels. Find out your metabolic type and eat consistently with it.
4. Utilize stress reduction techniques at peak cortisol times: Neuro-linguistic Programming, meditation, self-hypnosis, or simply lying on the floor doing belly breathing for 10-15 minutes can work wonders at reducing stress and thus cortisol levels.
5. Get to bed on time: Get to bed by 10:30 pm at the latest.
6. Avoid stimulants: Stay away from energy drinks that contain ephedra-like compounds and caffeine. Stimulants shift the body into sympathetic dominance, ie. "fight or flight". Stimulants can also disrupt your sleeping patterns. If you must have your daily coffee, be sure that you do not drink any after 12 noon.
7. Keep your workouts under 1 hour: At the 1 hour mark, your testosterone levels begin to decline and cortisol levels rise. Forty-five minute workouts are even better.
8. Do not overtrain: Strength coach Charles Poliquin recommends not training more than 2 days in a row. Doing so will simply overtax the hormonal system and therefore increase cortisol levels. Listen to your body. If you do not feel recovered from your previous workout, simply take an extra day off or reduce the number of sets you perform in your workout.
Sam Visnic is a C.H.E.K. Practitioner, Nutrition Coach, and certified NLP Practitioner who specializes in providing safe and effective corrective exercise solutions for back pain sufferers. For his free special reports, articles, and newsletter, visit http://www.EndMyBackPain.com
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