Stress Management Techniques to Recharge your Batteries
These three stress management techniques will help to recharge your batteries every day.
Photo credit: Hailey Reed
What is stress?
So many things in life can cause stress. We can experience stress from relationships, work, friends, money, even injuries and illness can cause stress to our body. (1,2) Stress is basically our body’s reaction to a hormone called cortisone. Cortisol secretion in response to stress is a normal function and cortisol helps to regulate our sleep-wake cycle and can influence our mood. (3,4) It’s when we experience high-levels of stress for prolonged periods and there is excessive cortisol circulating in our body’s that can negatively affect how our body functions. As a result, we can suffer from immune system dysregulation, inflammation, weight gain and fatigue. (3,5,6)
Photo credit: Adrian Swancar
What are the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems?
You might have heard of these nervous systems before. Maybe you’ve heard it in relation to your ‘Flight or Fight’ response or your ‘Rest and Digest’ response. Your sympathetic nervous system is involved with your Flight or Fight and your parasympathetic nervous system controls your Rest and Digest. When we are in the midst of chronic stress, we are constantly putting our bodies into Flight or Fight, or sympathetic nervous system dominance. (7) This is where stress management techniques have been proven to be helpful in stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. (8)
These three stress management techniques are easy to incorporate into your every day schedule.
That’s the key here, make sure you are making time to include these as part of your normal daily activities. If you are not scheduling them in, then you likely will not be doing them. You schedule everything else in your life, why not put one (or all!) of these into your diary?
- Deep breathing through your nose – this will help to stimulate the vagus nerve, which innervates the parasympathetic nervous system and helps to reduce stress. Watch this short video on alternate nostril breathing and the benefits you can gain from including this into your routine.
- Mindfulness or meditation – these are really simple practices that can easily squeeze into our lives. We can either start or end the day with a guided meditation. Practicing mindfulness in our activities will help us to be more grounded and present. You can even do this while you are eating! Visit Headspace for more information and examples of guided meditations.
Photo credit: Lesly Juarez
- Spend at least 10-15 mins outside every day. Your daily dose of nature can even be part of your exercise routine too. Exercise also has many proven benefits to reducing stress. If you struggle to fit this into your day because you feel time poor, consider getting off the train a station early and walking the rest of the way, or climb the stairs instead of taking the lift or escalators.
Photo credit: Lindsay Henwood
- US National Library of Medicine. Stress and your health [Internet]. Medical Encyclopedia. 2019 [cited 2019 May 2]. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003211.htm
- Stults-Kolehmainen MA, Sinha R. The effects of stress on physical activity and exercise. Sport Med [Internet]. 2014;44(1):81–121. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3894304/pdf/nihms-524273.pdf
- Adam EK, Quinn ME, Tavernier R, McQuillan MT, Dahlke KA, Gilbert KE. Diurnal cortisol slopes and mental and physical health outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychoneuroendocrinology [Internet]. 2017;83:25–41. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5568897/pdf/nihms881368.pdf
- Australian Government: Department of Health. The role of cortisol in the body [Internet]. Health Direct. 2018 [cited 2019 May 2]. Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/the-role-of-cortisol-in-the-body
- Ryan R, Booth S, Spathis A, Mollart S, Clow A. Use of Salivary Diurnal Cortisol as an Outcome Measure in Randomised Controlled Trials: a Systematic Review. Ann Behav Med [Internet]. 2016;50(2):210–36. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4823366/pdf/12160_2015_Article_9753.pdf
- Chao AM, Jastreboff AM, White MA, Grilo CM, Sinha R. Stress, cortisol, and other appetite-related hormones: Prospective prediction of 6-month changes in food cravings and weight gain. Obesity [Internet]. 2017;25(4):713–20. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5373497/pdf/nihms844660.pdf
- Lowrance SA, Ionadi A, McKay E, Douglas X, Johnson J. Sympathetic nervous system contributes to enhanced corticosterone levels following chronic stress. Psychoneuroendocrinolgy [Internet]. 2016;68:163–70. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5656452/pdf/nihms913831.pdf
- Gerritsen RJS, Band GPH. Breath of Life: The Respiratory Vagal Stimulation Model of Contemplative Activity. Front Hum Neurosci. 2018;12(October):1–25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6189422/
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