Do you know what the opposite of being balanced is? Stress.
Stress is a nasty fact of life that affects our digestive system, immune system, our mood, our relationships and our overall well-being. If you ever have a stomachache, bloating, gas, brain fog, get sick easily or are moody, these are just a few of the symptoms of being stressed. Most of the time, we don't think stress is the root cause of how we are feeling.
Stomachaches are one of the most common symptoms of being stressed. Anxiety and stress affect every part of the digestive system. The digestive system starts in the mouth, when we chew our food. It goes all the way to the colon and is complete when we have a bowel movement.
Everyday Health reports that stress increases the acid in the stomach resulting in indigestion, nausea, constipation and diarrhea. It can also lead to decreased blood flow and oxygen to the stomach which leads to cramping, bloating, inflammation and an imbalance in gut bacteria.
Yet stress is a necessary part of life. Without it, we would not know when we are in danger. The problem is that our lives are so stressful that our reaction occurs many more times than when we are just in danger. When we allow continuous stress to occur without taking action to balance our lives, we promote illness and disease in our bodies.
How can we create balance in our lives? Below, I've listed 4 ways to create balance helping you to overcome the negative affects of stress in your life.
After you read them, if you feel like you need more support creating balance, I am a Certified Holistic Nutritionist ready to help.
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Now, here are 4 ways to create balance in your life.
#1 MOVE YOUR BODY
One of the best stress relievers is to get some form of physical activity every single day. It doesn't have to be strenuous or at a very expensive gym. In fact, my favorite form of exercise is walking. It is free, can be done anywhere and doesn't have to be for long periods of time all at once. It is quite refreshing to take a 15 minute walk in the morning, one in the afternoon and then one in the evening.
If you can walk after you eat a meal, it will help digestion. A study in 2008 showed that walking sped the rate at which food moved through the stomach. Other studies have shown that walking also decreases blood sugar after meals, which decreases cardiovascular risk and potentially diabetes. (Source: LifeHacker) Since stress affects the digestive system, moving the body reduces stress and promotes a healthy digestive system
#2 SLOW THE BREATH
Another easy, can be done anywhere tactic, is to slow down your breathing. Once you get used to doing this, it will become second nature. The benefits of slowing the breath are quite amazing. A study in 2018 showed the benefits of slowing down our breathing include increased comfort, relaxation, pleasantness, vigor and alertness, and reduced symptoms of arousal, anxiety, depression, anger, and confusion. (Source: National Institutes of Health)
When you find yourself in a stressful situation, take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it for up to 3 seconds and then slowly release the breath through your nose. Do this as many times as you need to feel calmer. While it will feel strange at first, with practice you won't even realize you are doing it. I find myself in stressful situations starting to slow my breathing without even realizing I am doing it.
#3 SPEND A FEW MINUTES ALONE EVERYDAY
Self-care is one of the best ways to reduce stress. We get caught up in taking care of everyone and everything that we forget to take care of ourselves. Being alone can really help you focus on yourself, which is important for stress reduction. This may mean you get up before everyone else in the morning to enjoy a cup of tea. You may want to spend a few minutes alone in the evening, breathing slowly to relax before getting things ready for the next day. However you do it, try to carve out at least 15 minutes of alone time daily.
Writing down how you feel is powerful. Journaling allows people to clarify their thoughts and feelings, thereby gaining valuable self-knowledge. It’s also a good problem-solving tool; oftentimes, one can hash out a problem and come up with solutions more easily on paper. As for the health benefits of journaling, they've been scientifically proven.
Research shows the following:
It improves cognitive function
Strengthens immune system response
Counteracts the negative effects of stress (Source: VeryWellMind)
So get yourself a pen and paper or your favorite electronic device to document your thoughts and feelings. You'll get stress relief in doing so.
Creating balance in your life does not have to be hard. Simple actions such as moving your body, slowly breathing, spending some time alone and journaling provide powerful stress relief. When stress is reduced in our life, our physical body benefits with better digestion, a strong immune system and better concentration.
What steps do you think you can take to reduce stress in your life? Leave me a comment below!
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