5 Ways to Combat Stress
As women, we have adopted a belief that stress is a badge of honor we should proudly own and wear. We wear shirts that say “too blessed to be stressed” and “stressed, blessed, and coffee obsessed.” This norm in society that we gladly participate in isn’t harmless and in fact, one of the most dangerous norms we could participate in. In fact, research has begun to show that almost all disease is caused by stress and has much less to do with genetics than we ever thought. Genetics creates the potential for disease, but stress puts that blueprint in motion.
Stress affects every single system in the body in a negative way. It starts at the brain by literally changing the way our brain functions. A healthy nervous system will spend a majority of the time in rest mode where the body rests, heals, digests, develops, immune system functions, and almost every other good function our body needs. When stress hits our nervous system flips into stress mode where all of those functions are deprioritized to conserve energy for the fight-flight response. This is all well and good when it is used sparingly, but most of us spend so much time stressed that our brain just stays in stress mode full time to stop wasting energy.
Once the brain rewires to prioritize stress every system in the body feels those effects because every signal coming in and out of the brain is based on stress. It changes hormones, the chemical language of our body, to facilitate the stress response. Which is the main reason we see so many hormone imbalances today- starting with the thyroid to increased cortisol that makes weight management impossible, and reproductive system struggles.
We end up tired, overwhelmed, riddled with anxiety and depression, sick all the time, with major gut issues, and the list goes on. So what should we do about it?
This is where I have fallen in love with the self-care, health and fitness, and boundaries movement that is going on in women. We have to start putting ourselves first because far too many of us are running around trying to pour ourselves out while our cups are empty.
Here are my five favorite ways to combat the stress:
- Meditate and Breathe. Spend 15-30 minutes a day practicing deep belly breathing while clearing your mind. Pray, journal, meditate, whichever feels best for you. Silence the craziness of the world for a bit.
- Eat a balanced diet. Emotional stress isn’t the only stress you have to limit. Chemical stress from over-processed and chemical-ridden food will do it too. Plus eating a balanced diet helps to heal your gut.
- Move your body. Exercise literally boosts hormones that override the stress response. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes a day.
- Set boundaries and fall in love with the word no. Stop spreading yourself so thin and prioritize the things that are truly important. We have to eliminate the guilt and worry of what others think to protect ourselves.
- Get adjusted! Nervous system-based chiropractic care is the easiest way to neutralize the effects of stress and switch the brain out of stress mode and into rest mode. It’s especially important to do as you heal from years of chronic stress so you can truly heal.
Stress is a necessary evil that is going to be a part of our lives but letting it control us isn’t. Let’s take that self-care movement further and create a new societal norm of creating a life with less stress. You don’t have to be stressed to be blessed.
About the Author
Dr. Miranda Overbergen is a family wellness advocate and chiropractor who works with families to guide them in a health journey that leads to healthy nervous systems and reaching their goals in health and life. She co-owns Cultivate Chiropractic with her sister Dr. Katelyn in Altoona where they empower the lives of people they touch in health and connection. She tackles life alongside her husband, Steven in Altoona.