Feeling overwhelmed by your endless to-do list?
Frantically scrambling from appointment to appointment?
Or maybe you’ve been feeling discouraged by all the doom and gloom stories on the evening news…
We all know stress and anxiety aren’t fun emotions to endure.
But did you know that chronic stress also releases a flood of hormones that cause inflammation and early aging?
That’s right, the daily stress we experience may be one of the leading causes of early aging.
So here are things you can do to combat your body’s stress response and help you feel calmer.
This is a biological process that has evolved to help us survive… but the problem is, our bodies can’t tell the difference between life-threatening stress and “normal” stress.
Dealing with family challenges, financial worries, or running away from a bear out in the wild… all of these things trigger the same survival response that’s been hardwired into our bodies.
When this happens, our blood pressure rises and our bodies are flooded with cortisol, the stress hormone. Your body also produces extra free radicals, which cause damage to healthy cells in your skin.
This combination of cortisol and free radicals can quickly cause aches, pains, saggy wrinkles, and age spots. Stress is actively damaging the health of your skin from within.
To help you fight back, here are 5 quick ways to calm down your fight-or-flight response and free your body from the cascade of stress hormones.
Getting some fresh air is a great way to increase blood flow and calm down your body’s stress response.
Take it easy, though. Intense exercise is another stressor, so don’t push yourself too hard. You should aim for a brisk, relaxing walk.
Even a 10-minute family walk after dinner is a great way to take the edge off.
When you stretch your muscles, you’re forcing your body to relax and calm down.
But, not just any stretching will do—you want to focus on deep, slow stretching, accompanied by deep breathing.
Try getting into a deep stretch on the floor, and holding it for 90 seconds or more. Your muscles will instantly feel relaxed, and your whole body’s stress response will begin to calm down.
If stretching isn’t your thing, you can try using a meditation app, or focusing on deep breathing.
Forcing yourself to close your eyes, calm down, and take deep breaths switches on your body’s rest-and-digest system, which quietens down any fight-or-flight activity.
If life’s stressors are the gas pedal, deep breathing pumps the brakes.
Reading is a fantastic way to get out of your head.
If you find that endlessly scrolling through social media, watching the news, or reading intense content adds more stress to your life, try reading some light fiction instead.
Better yet, pick up a paper-and-ink book. Books don’t hyper-stimulate your brain the way electronics do. With any luck, you’ll lose yourself in the story.
Too much screen time can make stress worse, so going old school with a good book is a fantastic way to relax.
Finally, laughter tells your body it’s okay to relax. Having a good chuckle calms down the stress hormones flooding through your body.
So spend some extra time with loved ones, watch a funny movie or show, or get out of the house with friends. You’ll feel much more relaxed when you’re in a positive mood.
None of us can remove all the stressors from our lives… but these five tips can help you calm down when your stress levels are high.
Left unchecked, chronic stress corrodes your body from within. Use these tips and strategies to help you manage your body’s natural stress response, and potentially slow the signs of early aging.