Caring for your mental health has always been important, but more so in today’s changing reality, where anxiety seems to be at an all-time high. Long-term stress and anxiety can be detrimental for your physical as well as mental wellbeing, which is why balancing your stress hormones are vital. But what are stress hormones?
Here’s What We Mean
Cortisol (or the stress hormone) is secreted by the adrenal glands. It’s elevated when you feel anxious or stressed out, and it’s lowered when you’re in a relaxed state. When its levels rise, all the body’s energy and focus is utilized in handling the stressor, instead of regulating other important bodily functions like digestion and immunity.
Let’s simplify this theory. When you feel fear, even when it is as basic as being chased by a dog, your mind is far away from thinking about what it needs to be doing to keep your body functioning at an optimal level. Normally, the cortisol in your body is responsible for regulating weight, appetite, metabolism, blood pressure and glucose levels. But when you’re under stress, it leads to anxiety, depression, headache, lack of focus, insomnia and more.
However, we understand that managing anxiety is easier said than done. To help you take a small step towards achieving peace of mind, here are some lifestyle changes that you can carry with you throughout your life.
10 Ways To Balance Your Stress Hormones
1. Eat a whole-food, plant-based diet
An unhealthy diet consisting of processed foods will raise cortisol levels and put you at greater risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. Make sure you are consuming enough fiber from fruits and vegetables. It will help improve your gut health and regulate hormones. Remember, your diet is important – it’s 80% of the battle.
2. If needed, add supplements to your diet
Supplements as the word suggests, should be additions to your nutritional intake and in no way can replace a healthy, well-balanced diet. But when needed, adding a magnesium supplement can help regulate your cortisol levels. Vitamin B12, C, & Folic acid can also help support metabolism of cortisol. Before you start with supplements, check with your physician to ensure safety.
3. Take a deep breath
Deep breathing exercises for even five minutes a few times a day have immense benefits for your mind and body. They help reduce cortisol levels, ease anxiety and stress. To get started, use a guided deep-breathing meditation like “Breathwork Basics” on the ThinkRight.me app.
4. Reduce your caffeine intake
When you feel stressed out over a period, you can experience something known as adrenal fatigue. It occurs when your cortisol levels are off balance. It makes you tired and reliant on caffeine to get you through your day. It’s a vicious, albeit delicious cycle. Once the caffeine wears off, you feel exhausted again. Caffeine raises cortisol levels in your system and fails to address the root of your stress.
5. Get adequate sleep
We can’t stress this enough. Your body heals when you are at complete rest. To allow the process to take place, the body needs at least seven to eight hours of deep sleep. Sleep is such a crucial part of our daily lives, yet we tend to put it on the backburner amid our busy lives.
6. Regular exercise
Exercising for 30 minutes to an hour a day is a great way to regulate your hormone levels. But remember a leisurely walk with your dog won’t get your heart beating fast enough to make an actual difference. A simple trick to keep in mind is that when you are exercising, you need to push your body to a limit where you can still be able to hold a conversation while exercising, but not be able to sing.
Sometimes just putting pen to paper can be helpful. If you’re happy, you can relive the source of your happiness by just writing about it. When you’re stressed out, you can purge your thoughts on to paper so that you don’t have to continuously play it over in your head.
If you’re looking for a safe space to pen down your thoughts, ThinkRight.me offers a journal feature for you to express everything.
8. Indulge in hobbies
Playing a musical instrument, drawing, spending time gardening – all these activities will bring you joy and are helpful distractions from stress.
9. Step outside
Simply spending time in nature among the trees, flowers, birds, and bees may have a calming effect on the mind. Take a walk around the block, sit in a neighborhood park and enjoy the weather. If you are unable to spend time outside, the ThinkRight.me app has a set of ambient nature melodies to help transport you mentally, if not physically.
10. Don’t let your mindset be governed by fear
Putting fear first can be distracting and detrimental. It allows us to make decisions that hamper our wellbeing. Instead, be mindful. Take deep breaths, avoid the temptation to be impulsive. Lead with positivity.
These positive affirmations can help you de-stress.
We know this is a long list. But you don’t need to tackle all these tips at once – we know it can be overwhelming. The best way to make lasting, positive change is to do so little by little. Incorporate one or two things into your routine at a time until they feel like a natural part of it. Slowly add in others. Win the race against your mind.