Diary / Wellness / Sep 26, 2022
How to Deal With Chronic Stress
Written by: Lauren Slayton
Our bodies are equipped to handle stress — but that stress is supposed to be short-lived. With everything happening right now (I’m going to avoid enumerating all the stressors we’re facing), stress isn’t acute, it’s hanging around. With short-term stress, our heart races and we may sweat. We all know what this feels like. This is commonly referred to as our “fight or flight” response. But if your energy levels are subpar, if you’ve had GI issues, breakouts, weight gain or are extremely irritable, you’re likely experiencing the side effects of chronic stress. And these symptoms aren’t the first that come to mind, when we think of stress.
Why this happens
Cortisol, our primary stress hormone has anti-inflammatory effects when it’s released short term. When it is released all the time your body is less sensitive to the anti-inflammatory effects. The net net of this is inflammation. Increased inflammation can express itself with skin issues (irritations and rashes), painful cramps with PMS, headaches and indigestion.
5 steps to combat chronic stress
1. Set a schedule for your body to repair itself it needs time to rest and digest. One of the best ways to encourage this is to eat meals and go to bed at the same time each day. I suggest a minimum of two hours between meals, during the day, and at least 12 hours food free from your last bite at night until your first bite in the morning.
2. Go for green tea. Green tea contains a component called l-theanine. L-theanine relaxes you without sedating you. Green tea also gives you a slight metabolism boost. Try for 1-2 cups of good-quality green tea (or matcha) no later than early afternoon.
3. Stress slashing herbs. There is a class of herbs you need to know about, they are called adaptogens. Adaptogens help your body respond to stress. I’m suggesting an adaptogen called rhodiola to many of my nutrition clients. Rhodiola helps normalize cortisol levels, because of this it has been shown to produce a fat-burning response. Take stress-busting, fat-burning Rhodiola in the AM.
4. Eat fermented foods. Both your gut health and skin can take a hit from chronic stress. “Ferm" or fermented foods such as plain yogurt, kraut, kimchi and apple cider vinegar can improve gut health. And the collagen protein benefits both your gut and skin.
5. More magnesium. About two thirds of adults are deficient in a mineral called magnesium. Both stress and exercise deplete magnesium in the body. Magnesium is important for heart health and excellent for headache prevention. And both high blood pressure and headaches are potential side effects of chronic stress. Additionally, magnesium is anxiety reducing. Almonds, avocados, spinach, bananas and cacao are good sources of magnesium, I suggest 300-400 mg of magnesium at night, in addition to eating “mag” foods.
Try to incorporate as many of these five tips into each day. Not only are they beneficial, but knowing you’re taking positive steps for your health is comforting. And if you dislike these tips, consider getting a dog — it’s one of the all-time best things for cutting cortisol.