These Smart Strategies Will Help You Manage Stress

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.

5. Dance.

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.


9 Reasons Why the Beach is Healthy

I know I’m not alone in my mad love and passion for the beach. A lake is fine. A river is nice too. But, c’mon, there is nothing like the ocean to completely reinvigorate a bod and a soul.

When it comes to living a Nutritious Life, I speak to my clients about stressing less, living consciously, sleeping deep, nurturing themselves and so on.

Why? Because it’s not all about the food (although watermelon and chips and guac are quite delicious at the beach).

Taking care of your body has to do with more than what’s on the end of your fork, and there’s nothing like a day at the beach to zero in on keeping your Nutritious Life alive.

Whether you’re struggling with weight loss, emotional eating, ditching sugar, or any other food issue, give yourself a break today and get your toes in the sand. You just might find it affects your waistline better than you could have imagined.

9 Reasons Why the Beach is Healthy for You

  1. Swim and skin. There’s nothing more therapeutic for your joints and muscles than a soak in salt water. The ocean heals little nicks, cuts and scrapes and if you take a minute to exfoliate with a little sand, you’re skin will be grateful for days. (Just remember to reapply sunscreen after time in the salt water and sand.)
  2. Take a walk. A walk can be even better than a run when it comes to clearing the mind. I find there’s nothing more cathartic than a long walk on the beach (versus walking in the city which can trigger emotions worse than road rage.) It doesn’t have to be fast and it definitely doesn’t require a watch, a fitbit or any kind of app. Unplug. Walks on the beach are kind of perfect any way you do them – with your kids, your partner, or alone. There’s no goal, no rush, no race, no place to be. Relax and find some seashells along the way.  
  3. Do a body check. We know we should all be doing body checks but many of us pass over our bods when our minds are overcome with the thought of only having 5 minutes to hop in the shower, shave, and blow dry your hair,  all before getting the kids to school. As you put on your sun block, start with your face and work your way down your body – taking time to pay attention to your skin and looking for anything you might not otherwise notice. It’s a good practice to get in the habit of.
  4. Tech detox. Honestly my colleagues in my office would never believe me, but I really do love it that the beach is entirely destructive to technology. It feels good to relax without a computer, phone and tablet for a few hours. Some of my most creative moments have come when I’m undistracted and left alone with uninterrupted thoughts. I’m able to focus entirely in the moment without worrying that a ding, blip or ring will pull me from my escape. Save your money, don’t go buying protective cases.
  5. Sleep deep. Ever notice dozers everywhere at the beach? You won’t need your synthetic sound machine to catch that much needed shut eye. Sleeping at the beach to the sound of the waves crashing on the shore is like music to your ears, as long as you’re far enough away from the kids playing playing on the next blanket over. Sleep deprivation messes up the hormones that regulate hunger, causing an increase in appetite and specific cravings for calorie-dense, high-carbohydrate foods. Beach zzz’s are a therapeutic way to log some hours.
  6. Turn on. There are few things sexier than a day at the beach. Once your ‘senses’ are stimulated, you’ve relaxed, and you’ve unplugged from your daily routine, you don’t have to leave the good vibes in the sand. Just remember to get all the sand off before jumping between the sheets.
  7. Soak up the vitamin D. This vitamin is crucial for our health and wellness, yet an estimated 1 billion people worldwide are deficient. A day in the sun is the perfect way to meet your daily intake goals. The sun can give you even more than a good mood and a summer glow. Because vitamin D is synthesized in the skin, healthy exposure to sun in doses has been proven to support bone growth and also prevents calcium loss in mature bones.
  8. Mix up your workout. Does your daily workout routine feel mundane? A day in the sand is a perfect way to mix up your fitness routine because the possibilities are endless. Make an effort to join in on the game of beach volleyball, frisbee, or soccer with the kids, try paddle boarding or hop in the water for an aerobic exercise that can relieve your joint pain and burn those extra cals. And the best part? Beach workouts are like boutique workouts without the high price tag, so your wallet will stay heavier.
  9. Enjoy your company. There’s something to be said about leaving everything behind and truly being present to enjoy your surroundings, including the people in it! It’s easy to get caught up in your normal daily routine. An NYC street bustling with people can actually be lonely when everyone is walking with headphones and a one track mind about getting somewhere on time. At the beach I find people pull out more civility. Families connect. Friends play. Lovers relate and there’s a different community for the day – one made up of people who are all out for a nice time. It is noticeable to me when I am on vacation or at a local beach for the day.

Reconstruct your pillars. Dig out your umbrella. Add to my list. See you on the sand, friends!