Reducing Stress Hormones in the Body


These practices, more than anything, will help you begin to reverse the underlying "keyed up" (flight or fight) response. Implementing a regular breathing practice has shown most effective in reversing and limiting the effects of stress in the body and reducing stress hormones. Other very powerful stress reliving activities include: yoga (not hot), gentle walking, Tai Chi, meditation, hiking in nature, having a quiet time, prayer, and working on art projects. These are my favorite....

1) Box Breath. When anxious or angry, people tend to breathe shallowly or even hold their breath. Box breathing, also known as four-square breathing or square-box breathing, is a technique that can help calm your thoughts and release pent-up tension. Proper breathing also boosts lung function and overall health, but best of all, it's a simple technique that's easy to learn and one you can do anywhere.

The Technique

Box breathing combines deep breathing with simple counting. First, inhale your breath slowly for a count of four. Then, hold the breath for an equal count of four. Release the breath all the way out through pursed lips, on a count of four. Finally, Hold the breath out for the same count of four. Repeat the cycle a few more times or as long as you need to help you relax. Fully inflate the lungs or think about drawing the breath down as deep as you can. Fully expanding lungs instead of breathing from the upper chest. It may help you to place one or both of your hands on your abdomen or sides or ribs to feel the lower part of your abdomen rise as you breathe in.

How It Works

When your body is stressed, it creates the "fight or flight" response, causing your heart and breath rates to rise and your blood vessels to narrow, restricting blood flow. It's thought that breathing and meditation affect your parasympathetic nervous system, slowing your heart and breathing and improving blood flow and digestion. Breathing and meditation also affect the brain and help improve your mood, your ability to pay attention and how you perform everyday tasks.

I would like you to take a little sticker and put it on your dash board in your car (mine says "Breathe") I printed several of these and have posted on my dresser, by the sink in the kitchen, and in my car. When you see the sticker do a few rounds of deep breathing. (I do this mainly while I'm driving, and while I'm working. It is silent so you can do this anywhere, even when you are listening to someone talk) This style of deep breathing has been shown to reduce cortisol levels by 30% within just 5 minutes.

2) Before bed every night. Lie on the floor with your legs up the wall. When you are lying down I would like you to set a timer on your phone for at least 7 minutes. Ideally, I would like you to work up to 20 minutes. While your phone timer is running, close your eyes, breathe deeply. You can also do "box breath" while you are lying down.

3) Enjoyable walk each day for about 20 minutes. This is not "to do" walking. This is walking for pleasure. This is easily done after dinner. This is not exercise walking or power walking.

4) Prayer, Listen to a Guided Meditation on you tube or an App like Insight Timer, Take a gentle restorative yoga class, read, Epsom Salt Bath before bed, etc. If you can do it daily, have some quiet alone time. One full hour if you have time. But 20-30 minutes will suffice.

5) Limit exposure to the news. Not on the TV. If you need to find out what's going on, you can go online and read it. Do not listen to the news in the car. Refrain as much as possible from listening to the news or TV during the day. Do not leave the TV on in the background while you are at home or working.

6) No electronics or TV after 8PM. Period. Not even phone. You can read before bed or listen to music. Remove electronics (if possible) from bedroom.

7) You may want to look up some articles on line about Adrenal Fatigue/Exhaustion. Blood Sugar contributes greatly to your fatigue. Eliminate refined sugars, carbohydrates. Eat protein, vegetable, and a fat (even if its small) every 2-3 hours. Blood sugar handling is very important to help reduce Adrenal Stress/Fatigue.

This is a practice and it is very opposite to your natural state. One day it can become a part of your normal routine. Have others help you with gentle reminders. Practice the art of saying no. Take a yoga class. Create a routine/ritual of stress management. Get a massage. Breathe deeply.

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sarah@gvwell.com

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