5 Tips To Reduce Stress & Calm the Mind
Many chronic illnesses that we experience are deeply rooted in stress. Let's talk about how stress affects the body and helpful stress relief therapies you can begin to incorporate in your daily life today.
Written by Medina Henry
Owner | QueenEatz Nutrition
"Chronic stress alters the ecosystem of the body, mind and spirit like oil pollutes water." Leslie E. Korn PhD
Now more than ever before, our stress is through the roof. In fact, stress has become the new normal. Stress has us burned out, over worked, crabby & SICK; But we've been functioning this way for so long, we've learned how to adjust and get by with the weight of the world on our shoulders. We say yes to everything even when we don't want to, volunteer even when we really don't feel like it and we've barely slept or made time to eat... because... somebody's gotta do it, right?
But how does this stress relate to diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is the loss of beta cell function of the pancreas (the organ that releases Insulin), due to chronic, prolonged stress & a high glycemic diet. So basically, type 2 diabetes is the result of chronic prolonged stress (in addition to other determining factors, imbalances, weaknesses, deficiencies etc).
Under chronic stress, a hormone called Cortisol is release from the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are the little sack-like structures that sit on the top of the kidneys. Cortisol interferes with the production of insulin. Thus excess stress leads to high cortisol output which reduces insulin production and the cells ability to use it.
In normal hormone cycles, cortisol output is higher in the morning than it is at night. However, under chronic stress (and unhealthy food choices), cortisol output can remain high throughout the day and even shoot higher at night leading to insomnia and exhaustion the next day. Elevated cortisol often drives type A behavior: Impatience, irritability, and workaholism. Overtime, the experience of relentless chronic stress (family, financial, work, health, or accidental stressors) can deplete cortisol all together leading to fatigue and depression.
According to Dr. Leslie E. Korn, author of Preventing & Treating Diabetes Naturally, The Native Way, diabetes usually occurs at the end of a stream of events:
Childhood Stress - Excess refined carbohydrates (Sugar sweetened beverages, fruit juices, pastries, white bread, white pasta, white rice, etc),
Adult stress - Greater excess of refined carbohydrates, fatigue, coffee, depression, diabetes, pain.
With tapped out cortisol, individuals feel tired in the morning, often wanting to sleep in. Tell me if this sounds familiar:
You wake up sleepy not feeling like getting up but you force yourself to anyway
10am coffee break
Sleepiness after lunch
Another late afternoon coffee break (or other sugar break)
This pattern tells us why without the reduction of stress, prevention and control of diabetes is impossible.
Leslie Korn, PhD suggests that in order to reverse this pattern, one needs to withdraw from negative stimulants like stress and coffee, feel just how exhausted one truly is, and slowly rebuild ones health through nutrition, including stress modulating adaptogens, exercise, and stress reduction therapies.
Here are 5 stress reducing therapies that you can incorporate into your daily routine:
1. Meditation and Breathwork
Meditation is a very easy way to help you clear your mind and focus on the present. Many times we become stressed because we spend way too much time thinking about something that has happened in the past or something that we hope for in the future. This hinders our ability to appreciate the present moment and before we know it, years have past and we are still in the same rat race as we've always been. Breathwork is another valuable too for release. Deep breaking allows us to increase oxygen to the brain so that we can think more clearly and have the ability to make wise decisions.
Many time stress can be exacerbated because we have so much going on in our heads. Journaling is a very helpful tool it allows us to get everything out of our heads and onto a sheet of paper. This frees up space in our minds and therefore relieves stress because instead of trying to remember everything at one time or harboring feelings that come along with not being able to express ourselves, we can now release that burden in a healthy.
Grounding is a therapeutic technique that helps you to reconnect with the earth. A humans we are electrical beings that carry positive ions which means we are always positively charged. The earth carries negative ions & healing energy. Grounding allows us to balance out by connecting to the Earth's natural healing energy. This connection to earth reduces inflammation, pain, and stress. It also improves blood flow, sleep, and vitality. There are many ways to ground which take no effort. Walking barefoot outside, sitting, working or sleeping outdoors. The point is to spend more time being present in nature.
Exercise and yoga are two great ways to relieve stress. Exercise in the form of walking, running and other cardio as well as weight and resistance training is a great way to not only start the day but to finish the day as well. Its helpful to have a positive outlet such as these after a long stressful day. Punching a bag or lifting a heavy weight is a great way to let off some steam. Yoga is a more slow, free flowing practice that doubles as not only exercise, but as a fantastic way to center oneself. Focusing on the breath while moving and stretching the body is a great way to let go of stagnant energy.
5. Get Quality Sleep
People underestimate the power of quality sleep. During our sleep cycle, the body uses that time to restore, repair and replenish. When our sleep is not balanced, we find ourselves feeling more wired than normal. Our body also relies on sleep in order to regulate hormones in the body as well as regulate digestion. This simple act of rest could be the key to stress reduction for many people, simply because we are always on the go. Let's go back to our childhood ways and practice getting to bed early and if possible, making time for a nap during the day.