By Elisa Haggarty for Parsley Health
Chronic stress is associated with every chronic disease. It lays the foundation for hormone imbalance and inflammation. According to the American Psychological Association, 75% of adults reported experiencing moderate to high levels of stress in the past month. Nearly half reported that their stress has increased in the past year.
These days there are entire wellness centers and weeklong health retreats designed to help us lower our stress levels and feel more balanced. I’m all for a relaxing getaway, but perhaps we won’t need to escape as much from our busy lives if we adopt these 5 effective ways to manage stress.
RELATED: Schedule a free conversation with a Parsley Health expert to learn about our comprehensive approach to a stress reduction.
1. Stop trying to get rid of stress!
Once I accepted that there will always be some form of external “stress” in my life, I relaxed into the journey and let go of how things “should be.” Over the years I’ve rewired my brain to view challenges as opportunities, which has created a ripple effect in my life that has had immeasurable benefit in my personal and professional life.
2. Understand when stress is being sneaky.
In my work as a Functional Nutritionist, I teach people that stress isn’t just emotional. People often say, “but I don’t feel stressed.” Yet the crazy thing is that your body is always communicating with you. Weight loss resistance, psoriasis flare-ups, and headaches are warning signs that your body is under stress. Blood sugar spikes, nutrient deficiencies, and unmanaged autoimmunity will initiate a stress response in the body. So be on the lookout.
RELATED: Work with one of our doctors at Parsley Health to help you identify warning signs of chronic stress.
3. Do a digital detox.
I’ll admit, cute kitten videos and stories of triumph on the Internet are a refreshing and uplifting. But unfortunately, our digital addiction is causing unintended stress. Embrace weaving a digital detox into your weekly routine by going for walks and plan a picnic date with friends. Nature has an incredible ability to get us grounded and activate our parasympathetic nervous system. When our parasympathetic nervous system is activated, we replenish energy stores, digest our food better, and lower inflammation.
4. Ask for help.
I finally realized I didn’t have to conquer everything by myself. Saving face and “pushing through” was exhausting and only added more stress to my life. There is nothing heroic about trying to do it all alone. In fact, two of the greatest ingredients for a long healthy life are community and humility. Most importantly, when I stepped up and asked for help during times of stress, I empowered others to help me, and in turn, helped them feel valued and fulfilled.
Moving your body to the rhythm of music has incredible effects for mood, brain function, and even digestion! Music and movement call upon every region of the brain to move in rhythm with the beat, maintain balance and remember steps. Dance also allows us to get out of fight or flight and activates our parasympathetic nervous system, which is where digestion thrives. When we allow ourselves to move freely we release much of the tension and worry that drags us down throughout the week. When the music stops, we are refreshed and more balanced in dealing with whatever life throws our way.
Stress is our friend; it presents an opportunity for growth and a shift in habit formation. Lucky for us we get the chance to work with it each and every day.
This piece was originally published on Parsley Health. Parsley Health is a groundbreaking medical practice of highly trained doctors and health coaches in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Parsley Health takes a smarter, whole approach to helping you live a healthy life. You deserve a better doctor. Sign up here to speak to a health expert to figure out how Parsley Health can help you achieve your goals today.