Are you finding it increasingly difficult to decompress from stress? Issues with work, school, relationships, and even bad traffic can elevate your stress hormones and have you feeling uncomfortably on edge.
Stress affects every part of your body, and is often at the root of many health issues people suffer from daily. It can cause insomnia (or sleeping too much), gut issues, fast heart beats, and more.
The first step to learning how to decrease your stress levels is for you to create a go-to strategy for those bad days when you’re anxious and feeling agitated. It’s time to get a handle on stress and try one of these 7 suggestions to lower your anxiety and improve your quality of life.
1. Let’s Journal
Writing forces you to use your rational side of the brain, to remember how to spell, how to complete a sentence, and to organize your thoughts. You gain perspective when you are able to articulate why you are stressed. Also helpful is creating a list of your stressors and identifying the ones you have the ability to change and the stressors you have no control over. This can allow you to gain a clear vision of what you can accomplish.
2. Try a Float Tank
Float tanks are pod-shaped sensory deprivation pools where you float in an enclosed space with no light or sound. The water temperature is the same as your body temperature which in effect minimizes your sense of touch. People receive relief from depression, anxiety, and even physical discomfort by shutting down any external stimulus.
3. Go Somewhere New
Stress can wear a rut into your brain, especially if it’s something you deal with daily. Going somewhere new breaks the cycle by challenging the brain to stay focused in your new surroundings. It’s also a good idea to take regular breaks from work – a vacation may be exactly what you need.
4. Supplement with Vitamin D
A vitamin D deficiency is more prevalent as people spend most of their time indoors. Anxiety, depression, and fatigue are signs that you are possibly deficient in vitamin D. The best way to take vitamin D is through the sun, but if you don’t have the time for a sun session, then it’s best you take a supplement.
5. Experience a Sound Bath
Ever have trouble falling asleep or struggle to type a report because every little noise is irritating you? A sound bath uses soft comforting tones and calming vibrations to achieve the opposite effect! When you arrive at a sound bath center, you are led to an area with numerous bowls and musical instruments. You will lie on your back where you will be provided with a blanket and eye pillow. Once you have settled down, the sound bath begins with the hum of a crystal bowl. This experience is using your sense of hearing to relax you and bring you into a meditative state.
6. Move It
Do an activity that requires movement from your body for at least 30 minutes. Walk around a park, gather some friends and play a game of pickle-ball, or go to a garden center and stop to sniff the flowers. It doesn’t have to be intense, and you will get more stress relief from moving your body than sitting on your phone.
7. Seek Out Dog Therapy
Dogs can detect a change in your smell when you are experiencing stress. Dogs offer comfort, and petting one decreases the stress hormone cortisol and increases oxytocin, the happy hormone. Dog therapy is currently used to help people suffering from PTSD, victims of crimes who have to testify in court, and in schools for students who are feeling overwhelmed. And it’s been shown having a pet lowers your stress levels, too!
Stress can be a huge roadblock on your journey towards optimal health, but it doesn’t have to be an every day, every hour occurrence. Take time each day to stop and check in with yourself. Being more proactive about handling your stress means that your stressors can be far more manageable and less detrimental to your health, especially when you have learned the skill of completely decompressing before your next day begins. Writing in a journal, trying something new, and dog therapy are just a few of the ways you can lower your stress levels and increase your overall sense of well-being. Which will you be trying first?
The purpose of a functional medical approach is not only to diagnose and treat your existing medical issues, but most importantly, to prevent them from ever occurring. Want to know more about the source of your health issues and the steps you can take to improve your wellness? Read about how functional medicine works here, and how I can help you reach your health goals.
“Does Vitamin D Reduce Anxiety?” Calm Clinic – Information about Anxiety, Stress and Panic, 10 Oct. 2020, https://www.calmclinic.com/supplements-for-anxiety/vitamin-d.
“The Friend Who Keeps You Young.” The Friend Who Keeps You Young | Johns Hopkins Medicine, 22 Sept. 2021, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-friend-who-keeps-you-young#:~:text=Research%20has%20shown%20that%20simply,that%20bonds%20mothers%20to%20babies.
Jackson, Kate, et al. “Sound Baths: Soothing Stress with Sound.” EverydayHealth.com, https://www.everydayhealth.com/alternative-health/sound-baths-soothing-stress-with-sound/.
“The Power of Pets.” National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 26 July 2022, https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2018/02/power-pets.
Santos-Longhurst, Adrienne. “Sensory Deprivation Tank: Effects and Health Benefits.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 13 Apr. 2020, https://www.healthline.com/health/sensory-deprivation-tank.