Wouldn’t it be nice if there were natural ways to deal with stress? After all, stress can cause serious medical issues and problems. Many people don’t realize that due to the fact that stress releases hormones, such as adrenalin and cortisol, it produces a range of physical changes in the body. You probably have heard of adrenalin, and cortisol is less well known. Yet, the effects of both of these stress hormones can have a simply profound impact on your health and well being.
Why do we have stress hormones at all if they cause harm? From an evolutionary perspective, they served the purpose of heightening our senses and getting us out of danger. Our distant ancestors would see a danger, and stress hormones would be released to help encourage us to flee or take other action. In this way, this biological process is remarkably helpful and necessary as well. The fact is that if the potential stressors are likely to be short lived, such as running away from a bear and making it back to your clan and cave, there is ultimately no problem with the impact of stress hormones.
However, in modern society the “bears” that we face tend to be of a more institutionalized and cerebral fashion. A good example would be dealing with a horrible and aggressive boss who is giving you a bad time every single day and perhaps even screaming at you as well. When you are under this kind of pressure, the impact of stress hormones is quite different.
Long-Term Affects of Stress
Long-term exposure to stress hormones is a very bad thing indeed, and you want to avoid being “stressed out” for long periods of time for just that reason. Why? Prolonged exposure to stress hormones can lead to a variety of health concerns. At the top of the list is inflammation, as it plays a vital role in a wide range of ailments. Increasingly, science is looking at the role that inflammation plays in a range of diseases, most strikingly cancer.
Of course, even with the issue of disease removed from the discussion, inflammation can negatively impact the quality of our day-to-day lives. Injuries and inflammation go hand in hand. Finding ways of addressing inflammation can thus play a role in making us feel better and ease our pain. Routinely nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (or NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen are administered to help people to deal with the effects of inflammation. Yet, there is a problem with opting for such drugs.
While these anti-inflammatory drugs are generally safe if taken very infrequently and in limited amounts, the result of their long term usage is quite a different matter altogether. Further, there are a variety of side effects that accompany NSAIDS like stomach pain, heartburn and nausea. Clearly, finding a better, natural way to address stress and accompanying inflammation levels is a very smart move.
How Can You Reduce Your Stress Levels?
What are some of the best ways of reducing one’s stress levels? At the top of the list is the ancient and time-honored practice of meditation. Meditation can work to do more than calm the mind, as it can also reduce the levels of stress hormones in the body. In this way, mediation can potentially play a role in reducing inflammation. Massage is another effective way to treat and reduce stress. Research confirms that massage can be very effective in reducing both stress and inflammation.
There are, of course, other natural options beyond meditation and massage. Another highly effective way of reducing one’s stress levels is to use herbal incense. The fact is that scents are one of the quickest pathways into the brain. Our brains are primed and ready to respond to scents and do so very quickly. The right scents are also exceptionally good for producing a relaxed state of mind and calming the “nerves.” What may be a surprise to many people is the role that herbal incense can play in not just improving one’s mood, but also in improving one’s ability to meditate more effectively.
In addition to meditation, massage and herbal incense, music has long been known as a method for decreasing stress levels. As you may have already discovered in your own life, a little music can help you reduce stress levels after a long day.
Earlier in this article, we addressed the fact that stress hormones can lead to inflammation in the body. Inflammation in the body occurs in another way as well and that is as a result of our dietary selections. There is a link between food and inflammation throughout the body. If you have ever consumed a given meal only to discover that you now have aches and pains or a lack of energy, you are not alone.
There are an abundance of additives in processed and fast food choices that serve to trigger inflammation. Sugar, unhealthy fats, such as trans fats, as well as the various chemicals, food colorings, additives and pesticides that go into processed food and fast food can combine to make you feel achy and even depressed as your immune system struggles to address the inflammation that unhealthy food choices can produce.
Opting for a healthy diet can serve to make you feel better on a day-to-day basis. Along with meditation, massage, herbal incense and music, a healthy diet built primarily around vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits and lean protein choices will help you feel better, reduce your stress and maybe even put you in a better mood.