New Insights Regarding the Stress Response and the Natural Strategies to Balance it.
It’s no secret that stress is a major trigger of fatigue and a factor behind early aging.
In a society that loves to be busy and overworked - the true impact of stress can be underestimated.
Moreover, our understanding of the causes of stress are too narrow.
I find that many clients tend to think that if they’re not going through emotional or job stress, that “stress” doesn’t apply to them.
Stress is not only about stressful events in our lives - many things can stress our bodies on a physiological level.
Stress can be caused by any combination of the following factors:
- Bad sleep
- Chemical stress
- Hormonal stress
- Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Stress (anxiety, worry, anger, sadness, fear, abuse, lack of clarity)
- Physical or Psychological Trauma
- Food Allergies and Sensitivities - (One of the most overlooked sources!)
- Nutrition imbalances (ex/ Magnesium, Vitamin C and B vitamin deficiencies)
- Troubled relationships
- Financial and/or Career pressure.
On one hand, when we push ourselves to advance our career, or bring up small issues in an important relationship before they become bigger issues, or when we exercise, take a cold shower, or sit in a hot sauna or an ice bath - short-term stresses can lead to positive, long-term change in our lives.
On the other hand, ongoing stress creates a vicious cycle and promotes unhealthy behaviors - such as craving sweet, salty or fried food, or lashing out at a friend or family member in anger.
Not to mention, stress can fuel the soul-sucking tendencies of procrastination, self-doubt, low self-esteem, low self-efficacy, and lack of trust in those around us too.
Stress is much more dynamic than we generally have given it credit.
Someone can have a highly fulfilling career, a loving and supportive relationship - and still, be utterly exhausted in their day-to-day life.
Likewise, someone can have a squeaky clean diet and still be derailed with the stress of a purposeless career, or say, a lack of connection with their partner.
So when you look at stress, it can be likened to a large control board with a bunch of lights and switches, the more lights and switches that are activated, the higher the likelihood one will experience stress and its mental or physical consequences.
And while the master control board of possibilities is the same for everyone, no one’s control board is lit up the same way.
What Does Stress Look Like to the Body?
-Loss of focus
-Trouble remembering simple things, like where you put the keys or what you had for lunch yesterday
-Slow healing from muscle and joint injuries and higher susceptibility to injury in the first place
-Sugar and salt cravings
-Loss of blood sugar regulation
-Weight gain, especially around the belly
-Difficulty falling or staying asleep, not feeling rested after a full night’s sleep
-Dependence on stimulants for day to day work and life activities
-Dependence on depressants like wine at night to unwind
-Tendency to be easily startled
-Physiological signs such as fatigue, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, tinnitus (ringing/whooshing/clicking sounds in ear), and muscle twitching
-Low sexual interest, and poor sexual performance
-Higher sensitivity to light, sounds, and smells
-Slower healing and longer recovery from physical activity; chronic aches and pains
-Low thyroid activity
Balancing Stress Naturally
1.) Meditation and Mindfulness
Take time to pause, clear your head, and “wash the mind”.
We are trained to wash our bodies most days, yet washing the mind is often overlooked.
A meditation practice does not have to occur on a mountaintop, you can take short five-minute meditation breaks throughout the day to calm the mind.
Mindfulness involves being fully present and attentive to your surroundings at a given moment, and not allowing your mind to judge, compare, recall the past, or think about something that will happen in the future.
Too much attention to the past promotes depression and too much future-mindedness can promote anxiety.
We spend most of our time in our thoughts, not realizing that we are missing the moments that make up our actual life each day!
I've used Calm, Headspace, and Brain.fm to help with meditation.
Our minds are naturally geared to be negative. It’s advantageous to be concerned about the rattling in the bushes next to you - but it can be paralyzing when that negativity is pervasive to your approach and outlook toward life.
Humans are naturally subject to something called the hedonic treadmill. If things never seem like "enough" and you're always wanting more - the hedonic treadmill is at the root.
A new toy loses its luster in a few days. You can upgrade your car or your home, and within weeks you'll naturally be itching for the next best thing.
It’s why when you get a raise, you feel good, but that can be short-lived as your lifestyle adapts the new norms of the extra income.
And, it’s partly why winning $100 feels good, but losing $100 feels twice as bad.
A gratitude practice helps keep these natural human tendencies at bay. Something as simple as daily journaling can take your gratitude to a new level.
Gratitude can be done as a part of morning or evening rituals. I prefer mornings as it sets a positive and resourceful lens for the rest of the day.
Do you have trouble thinking of things you're grateful for?
That's okay and can be perfectly normal at first - a subtle technique is that you can be grateful for your problems. You can be grateful that the problems are not worse, or that you can be grateful for the ability to grow from the situation.
A simple moleskin notepad, legal pad or scrap of paper will work. I like the organization of the Five Minute Journal - which is one of the books I gift the most.
My wife and I often keep each other accountable and sit down and fill out our gratitude journal together - and you can choose what to share with each other and what you wish to keep private.
3.) Finding a Greater Purpose
So many self-help books preach "Follow your purpose!", "Do what you love!", "Do what you're most passionate about!".
I feel that it's easy for someone to talk about purpose when they are in touch with theirs. For others, it's not that easy. It takes work and trial and error to get there.
I'm still discovering and refining my own purpose. I find that you don't necessarily find your purpose; a purpose will find you. How do you let purpose find you? Keep experimenting and trying something new until you find something that you really resonate with.
I have found Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins to be very helpful. And, if Tony Robbins doesn't resonate with you, then perhaps there's someone else you want to align with.
Investigating your purpose doesn't have to be hipster, woo-woo, or new age journey. It can be fueled by a tangible and logical approach.
Finding your purpose in life is about:
1.) Getting in touch with your life values
2.) Being brutally honest about what you want and don't want in your life
3.) Not compromising on those values
4.) Identifying false or limiting beliefs
5.) Replacing those beliefs with new ones that serve a greater purpose
All of us have adopted, borrowed, or developed limiting beliefs and assumptions about life that can totally handicap us in adulthood.
My wife and I really resonated with a Mindvalley program known as Lifebook - which is a course and training program originally designed by Jon and Missy Butcher.
As of this writing, it can be completed for free as long as you prove you did the work (see program details).
Jon and Missy ran the business behind those collectible Precious Moments figurines you may be familiar with that were popular in the 90's and continue today.
They run a few businesses today and have found it to be an important life purpose of theirs to help others find and fulfill their own purpose and life aspirations through the Lifebook programs. Their goal is to get a million people to complete a Lifebook.
Imagine the impact their efforts will be on the world when a million people dive deep mentally and become rooted in their life aims and purposes. It's an honorable mission I'm happy to stand behind.
They put together principles and philosophies of their own life approach - inspired by teachings from Tony Robbins, Ayn Rand, Nathaniel Branden, Esther Hicks and many others. It is well structured for anyone who feels a need for a reboot, or want to refine some missing balance in their life.
Instead of a vision board - they guide you on an organized, and scientific process of identifying beliefs, values, visions and strategies in 12 key areas of your life, eventually collating it all in a physical Lifebook with quotes, pictures, goals and strategies highly specific to the life you want to build for yourself or alongside your partner.
Developing clarity and intensity of a life purpose is a wonderful way to overcome the stress and anxieties of everyday life.
Everyone has problems, yet not everyone is living life purposefully. A driving purpose will become bigger than your problems and the problems will eventually lose their hold in your mind.
Another way to look at purpose is to live life deliberately - simply have a reason for doing something a certain way.
Few are in touch with purposeful awareness of their life and how their actions, behaviors and emotions tie into the results that they're experiencing.
You could argue that the level of thinking brought about by Lifebook should be mandatory.
Be one of the few who is aware and purposeful.
4.) Consistent Sunlight Exposure
We are light deficient and light overwhelmed at the same time.
It comes back to wavelengths.
In nature, sunrise and sunset are associated with reds, yellows, and oranges, the mid-day is associated with brighter and deeper blues.
Our body gets different benefits from the light spectrum. Sunlight exposure during 8-11am and 4-7pm help us with sleep and relaxation. Sunlight generally between 11-3pm helps us with Vitamin D levels and focus.
Outdoor movement and exercise upon waking can do wonders for energy throughout the day and for our ability to fall asleep that night.
So this is why you see biohackers using red light and infared light therapy at home in the mornings and evenings, and use blue-blocking technologies like glasses, or screen or cell phone filters in the early morning and evenings.
I use red light therapy for 10-40 minutes a day (split between front and back of the body), sometimes less if I got sun exposure that day, sometimes more if I'm sore or suspect that I'll be sore from a workout!
Joovv is popular and better marketed product but expensive. I found the same, if not better technology with PlatinumLED Therapy Lights for about 30%+ LESS expensive.
In my analysis, the affordability comes from not paying for the celebrity and athlete endorsements that promote Joovv. Joovv also pays affiliates more - so internet "influencers" have a little more incentive to align with them.
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With Platinum LED you get comparable technology, build-as-you-go customization, and warranty protection with without the celebrity pictures and fancy marketing of Joovv. You can start with a small panel for a targeted area or choose full body exposure models. I personally use the Biomax 900 + 900 setup and opted for the mobile stand. You can start with one panel and work your way up, depending on your interests.
Red light and infared light work on the body on a cellular level and help stimulate repair processes.
It helps with prevention and recovery from chronic aches and pains, and it helps with sleep, sex hormones, and the health of the skin, hair, and nails. It's a tool you can use on cloudy days, rainy days, or days you're stuck inside for whatever reason.
You will get infared and red light from the sun, but not always with the consistency you might from having a home unit due to weather or climate - but also to achieve full body exposure too as red light/infared therapy is something you generally do without clothing in the privacy of your home.
Minimize Man-made Blue Light Exposure:
A popular hack for minimizing blue light is to wear blue blocking glasses. These are the amber, yellow, and red-lensed glasses you might have seen people wearing.
They range from cheap safety goggle looking glasses to more expensive and stylish glasses - it's up to you to take it as far as you wish to fit your lifestyle and budget. I've outlined the most popular in the link above.
Wearers of these glasses are not always out for attention or trying to be trendy - blue-blocking glasses functionally block excess blue light and, as a result, help with sleep, focus, and keep the brain from being overstimulated in a digital age.
5.) Strategic Meal Timing
Long-term readers know that I’m a fan of intermittent fasting on a 16:8 schedule (fast for 16 hours, keep all eating within 8 hours).
This has tremendous benefits for weight management, insulin sensitivity and the activation of longevity genes. But it also plays a strong role in our body’s circadian rhythm and gut flora.
Eat a large meal, and then try a high-intensity workout - doesn’t work out well for the exercise, nor does intense exercise help with the digestive process.
Stress hormones are also influenced by eating patterns - if you eat a high carbohydrate meal or snack, it leads to a spike in insulin which drives your blood sugar down.
With high insulin, you might drive the blood sugar down too much and the stress hormones have to kick in to release sugar back into the bloodstream.
In doing so, this can also steal production away from sex hormones, and can be a player in adult acne, hormonal headaches, low libido, and poor sexual performance - not to mention weight gain or difficulty with weight loss.
Some may lose weight with stress and this can be due to poor nutrient absorption, along with muscle wasting.
Note on Fasting for Women: Due to hormone fluctuations of a women's menstrual cycle throughout the month - intermittent fasting can still be used but women may respond differently. During menses, women may want to reduce their fasting time to 12-14 hours, but 16 hour fasts can still certainly work. I just want to make sure you have more complete information.
In short, this is because your sex hormones share the same precursors as your stress hormones - so hormonal peaks can physiologically have you more sensitive to stressors. When fasting, your body will use stress hormones to help maintain your blood sugar - so during your cycle this can put extra work on your adrenal glands.
Fasting can ultimately be a healthy stress on the body - but if your body is under extra stress for external or internal reasons, you may want to ease your way into a strategy until you know how your body responds.
6.) Cold and Heat Therapy
It is no coincidence that we have dozens of temperature-related phrases referring to our emotional state.
Someone who is reacting in a "heated" or angry manner is often told to "chill out", "cool off", or "take a chill pill". In movies, you see someone who is out of control come to their senses after being splashed with water in the face.
We innately know that temperature can affect our nervous system.
Cold exposure stimulates the vagus nerve and our relaxing, "parasympathetic" arm of the nervous system.
It also can be a shock to the system - leading to a boost of neurotransmitters that promote mental focus - while also training your body to deal with the temperature stress more efficiently.
As a result, your body learns to regulate itself to cool down and relax at faster speeds - while also learning that these stresses are short-term, which helps build mental resilience and "grit" as well.
For the adventurous types - take a cold shower or dip your face into a bowl of ice water, as these can act as "reset" buttons to the balance of parasympathetic and sympathetic activity.
For the gadget types, my wife and I love our Chilipad. This is a mattress topper that is lined with tiny tubes that circulate water at a specific temperature of your choice. And, with queen or king models - you and your partner can both select your ideal temperature.
They came out with a new Ooler model which has great adaptations, but it is bluetooth-driven and, personally, I do concern myself with limiting unnecessary EMF exposure and opted for the original Chilipad King model.
Keep cool in the summer - and support enough warmth in the winter.
Your brain and body do their best healing at night. If you are chronically stressed, have chronic aches and pains, and your sleep is a wreck, it is time to get serious about your sleep quality.
Sleep is the MOST CRITICAL factor for stress recovery. And temperature is one of the strongest predictors of sleep quality.
Protect and honor it.
Your body temperature needs to cool down at night to get into deeper levels of sleep where the best healing occurs. The Chilipad technology helps you fall asleep faster, stay asleep, and reach deeper levels of sleep. I sleep best at around 72 degrees in the winter and ideal is considered around 67 degrees which I use in the summer.
Alternatively, heat has its benefits too.
A warm bath is something that can be overlooked for relaxation - and there's a reason hotels, spas, and magazines often use the imagery of a relaxing bath to drive the point of a relaxing or stress-free experience. Baths are also private, so this gives you time to think and reflect without distraction.
Add some Epsom salts to increase the relaxation response with the calming effects of magnesium.
Of course, you can supplement orally with magnesium which is also a great stress support. I like magnesium glycinate to promote relaxation. The glycine portion independently supports calming activities of the nervous system. If you want some cellular energy support for fatigue, try a magnesium glycinate/malate mix. I might take the glycinate/malate mix in the day and magnesium glycinate in late afternoon or night.
If brain fog is more of a concern, magnesium threonate is especially equipped to support magnesium levels beyond the blood-brain-barrier. If I have a writing project or a lot on my plate, I may add some Mg threonate to help grease the mental wheels!
When you exercise, it's a stress on the heart and body. As a result your heart and muscles become stronger and better equipped to deal with challenges for the rest of the day.
Heat stress such as a 10-30 minute sauna session can also train the body to better respond to stress for the rest of the day. It's also helping to open up capillaries, exchanging nutrients and waste, and giving the heart a little workout without the stress on your muscles and joints.
Additionally, you will physically sweat out some metals, pesticides, fuel derivatives, flame retardants, preservatives, and other toxins you're exposed to daily.
There's an old adage in traditional medicine that says "When it doubt, sweat it out" - speaking to the numerous benefits of heat therapy.
For best results, utilize the sauna at least 4-5 days out of the week. I sip on water with himalayan salt added - but electrolyte drinks or coconut water (choose a brand with no added sugars) can be useful to replenish following your sessions.
***KTO Electropure by Designs for Health is useful for those following extended fasting rituals or heavy sauna use. It is free of bloat-causing sugar alcohols.
Heat Shock Proteins:
Your body produces heat shock proteins that help the body respond to not only heat stress, but also respond to general physiological stress.
Sauna therapy helps strengthen expression of heat shock proteins while also helping to circulate wastes out of the body. Heat shock proteins not only help your body respond to heat, they help your body respond to stress in general.
If you're sensitive to heat and cold, you might benefit from cold and heat therapy to help increase your temperature tolerance over time.
Interestingly, Zinc Carnosine may also help mitigate some of the gut stress that happens during high heat or intense exercise - it's also been shown to independently boost the production of heat shock proteins.
My sauna session is often my favorite part of the day. While I do not yet own a home system, I use the dry sauna at the gym. I generally avoid the steam room because who knows what you are breathing in with the water suspended in the air - but technically it can be used too.
If I'm sore or have a planned active recovery day, I may go to the gym for an extended sauna session. I'll also generally use the free time to do some more targeted mobility work and some extra minutes with Infared/Red Light therapy at home.
It's a bonus if you can alternate a cold plunge with or following your sauna session. You can also use this with your cold showers.
One technique for your shower is to go through eight rounds of cold water for 20 seconds and hot water for 10 seconds - this causes your blood vessels to alternate dilation and constriction - helping to pump wastes while also training your nervous system control along the way. It may also help boost metabolism and manage body weight & composition. With cold therapy, your body will start to convert white fat to the more metabolically active brown fat.
Shivering can actually be a powerful fat loss mechanism. Swim workouts may help boost the caloric impact of your workout too, as your body is constantly losing heat to the water during your workout - providing a thermogenic boost to your metabolism.
7.) Vagus Nerve Stimulation
Humming, singing, and chanting are activities rooted in spiritual rituals that may have a basis in stress balance and recovery as they also stimulate the vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve meanders from the neck and fans out over the entire digestive system.
Some train the vagus nerve with coffee enemas - which stimulate bowel activity - the resisting of the urge to go is the "muscle" you are strengthening with this strategy.
Cold exposure also stimulates vagal activity, along with deep, diaphragmatic/belly breathing usually as a breath in for 4ct, hold for 7ct, release for 8ct, or box breathing at 4ct inhale, 4ct hold, 4ct exhale, 4ct break, etc.
Conversely, rapid, short breathing stimulates the sympathetic or stress system and can be used in its own right to boost focus or to ready oneself for a sports competition or higher intensity workout.
Do not overlook the power of the breath - meditation is rooted squarely on this physiological benefit in addition to the clearing and recharging of mental energy. If you have trouble meditating, work on deep breathing exercises first.
Heart rate variability is a useful benchmark to gauge the health of your parasympathetic system and can be a guide as to when you need to calm down or enjoy more of an active recovery day rather than hitting things hard in the gym. As a result, it can be a surrogate marker for the health of your vagus nerve.
I use a polar heart monitor coupled with Elite HRV app on my phone. It can give you a sense of how "recovered" your body is and give you an indirect idea as to the health of your vagus nerve. Always compare HRV readings using the same app as different apps will use slightly different algorithms - one is not necessarily better than the other, but you want to compare like to like with your readings. When it comes to HRV, higher is better. Pay attention to what's average for you, and you will begin to get an intuitive sense of how foods or activities affect your body.
There are transcranial electrical devices that attach to your ears that aim to stimulate your vagus nerve activity directly.
Some functional neurology offices will offer vagus nerve strengthening as part of their treatment protocols too and you can purchase home devices without prescription.
The Fisher Wallace vagus nerve stimulator is the most popular and on my personal list of future purchases (Potentially HSA eligible too).
Vagus nerve activity has been considered one of the strongest predictors of longevity and general life expectancy. I do not take it lightly!
Nerve protective supplements such as Lion's Mane, Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), Curcumin, Alpha-lipoic acid, (and the more bioavailable R-Lipoic Acid) and others may help support nerve health in the brain and body along with the myriad of other benefits they provide.
In order to highlight the benefits of aromatherapy, let me start with a tangent on what it means to be "happy".
Stress balance is also about boosting happiness. Life satisfaction is really about how many hours we spend "happy".
In studying happiness, I have found that this concept comes back to the normal A-list players you often hear about - mindfulness, gratitude, and meditation.
Happiness is also about being present and optimizing your moment to moment experiences - being careful of addictive, dopamine-infused activities.
This mean instead of pouring a drink of alcohol or binge-watching Netflix, perhaps instead you open a book, listen to some of your favorite tunes, sit down and handwrite in a journal to reflect on your day or to outline the goals for tomorrow.
The most rewarding mood boosters are those that are not based on a dopamine rush.
Using essential oil diffusers, listening to calm music, taking a few minutes to breathe deeply or perform some yoga movements, or just going for a walk around the block will often do much more for your happiness.
Self-help guru Tony Robbins has preached about the emotional state for decades.
When we reach for alcohol or snacks, or when we tune into junk television, what we're ultimately trying to do is change our emotional state.
The more you can improve your moment-to-moment experience in auditory, physical, kinesthetic, and olfactory (smell) ways, the better you will change your state than turning to outside agents.
Tony Robbins repeats over and over in his work that the best way to change the emotional state is to change the body. Get moving, get breathing, and keep the positive energy flowing.
If the tools we're accustomed to using are alcohol, television, or scrolling through social media - these might be enjoyable for a few minutes - but ultimately they will leave us feeling empty, or worse wanting "more" - with the "more" never being quite satisfied until you realize you've just wasted hours of your life that you'll never get back.
This is why an organized office is stress-relieving, or art, or music can stimulate happiness and and calm for the body.
It's also a reminder that your momentary experience is yours and yours alone - so it helps you enter into what's important for you - and care less about what others might think.
More importantly, you realize that ultimately it's you who is responsible for that momentary state as well.
Aromatherapy is an overlooked factor that has direct physiological benefits that can be measured - but also it helps to boost the momentary experience of this awesome thing we call life. It also can be generally safe, affordable, and tolerated by those that are highly sensitive.
So yes, lavender, rosemary, and vanilla are common relaxing scents. I especially enjoy bergamot which is a name that is not as mainstream - but it is common in aromatherapy formulas around stress, happiness and relaxation. Citrusy or spicy scents will help with alertness and focus. Lemon can also help give you a sense of freshness.
Did you know that you can also ingest lavender oil in the form of oral softgels? The company behind Integrative Therapeutics developed a proprietary lavender oil extract known as Silexin which is the basis of their Lavela Ws1265.
Lavela has been clinically studied for support of anxiety and depression when used over a course of three months or longer. Changes may start to be noticed as early as the first 7-14 days.
9.) Grounding and Nature
I love sitting in our backyard patio with the fireplace going and the lights dim and it is often when I get my most insightful reading or my best journaling completed.
There's something about being "outside" that is freeing to the mind, body and spirit. And frankly, many of us are starved of this need for "recess".
Remember in school (and college for some) when the teacher or professor would occasionally agree to hold a class outside on a nice day - I don't remember if we were discussing existentialism or civics, but I do remember how it helped my mood the rest of the day.
Whenever you get a chance, exercise outside. I keep a kettlebell on my back patio and often do a round of pushups, abdominal planks, squats, or kettlebell exercises outside when taking a break. I fit in stretching, foam rolling, or mobility work when a muscle group may otherwise be too sore to work out that day.
For those of you who work from home, ask yourself if you do you truly use this flexibility to fit in the stretching, sunlight exposure and other activities that you blamed a previous work environment on?
For others, focus on the flexibility you do have even if it means taking the stairs to a bathroom on a separate floor...taking a quick lap around an office building, and if you're shy, you can sneak some air squats or jumping jacks in the bathroom when no one is watching.
Or, if you're like me, carry some water jugs up and down the hallway - get creative.
I remember in Chiropractic college, there were students that would have a buzzer sound every hour, and there'd be an exercise of the day - like doing a set of burpees or sit-ups, or taking a quick jog around the building.
Little rituals like all of these described above are often quite large in their benefits. Choose a few strategies that resonate most with you and develop a few new routines for your stress management. And, do so outside and barefoot!
Some companies offer grounding mats or other technologies to mirror the grounding frequencies of the Earth. I do not have personal experience to offer an opinion at this time.
Minimize EMF Exposure:
I am careful of excess EMF exposure from outlets, wifi, and plug-in devices. I keep devices unplugged until I use them.
I turn off my wifi router overnight and turn it on only when I'm using it. And there are plenty of guides online from others who are more versed in minimizing EMF exposure.
A smart meter cover can also be a great way to start - and it's best to live in a home that is at least two miles away from power lines. I also am opting more for physical books than reading on an electronic devices. I cut out blue light a good hour before my intended bedtime and I'll spend the time journaling or reading a physical book with some herbal tea.
I keep my cell phone in airplane mode when practical. Otherwise, I keep it out of my pocket and at least an arm length away from my body.
We are electrical beings and it is thought that nature can help literally ground us.
Our gut flora also communicate using their own form of EMF - so man-made EMF may disrupt some of these communication systems! Bacteria in our gut such as Bacillus spore probiotics engage in a fascinating behavior known as quorum sensing.
Spore probiotics can change their metabolic outputs based on "signals" from the environment - they can communicate to others in the colony possibly through electrical signals that travel across biofilm and mucosal membranes.
Did you know? Through quorum sensing, Spore bacteria can "sense" when the make-up of the gut is off, and will produce more antimicrobial or prebiotic compounds to promote a preferred flora balance.
Bacillus subtilis HU58 is a strain of Bacillus that is especially skilled at producing a wide range of natural antimicrobial properties. Megasporebiotic also contains HU58 and is a cornerstone of my ideal gut protocol.
Excess EMF exposure may have a negative roles in how gut flora are able to self-regulate themselves.
The human body never ceases to amaze me.
The digital and electronic world leaves us ungrounded and can be part of why we feel electrically "frazzled" from time to time. As 5G technology mainstreams, and kids are growing up in a 100% digital world - it's worth giving this a little more attention.
If you doubt the concern - next time you get a new cell phone, read some of the warning phrases in the little small print booklet that comes with your device. Hike up to the fencing around a cell phone tower and see if there are any posted warning messages. You might be surprised at what you find.
Tech companies pay lawyers to add health warnings to the fine print for a reason - and it's not out of charity to law firms.
Movement is a powerful stress-relieving tool.
Movement feeds the brain. The brain can become starved for healthy movement and those areas can start to degenerate without use.
If the brain feels stale, you start to lose focus, or your energy seems "blah" - get the body moving to get the blood flowing and help the brain shift back into gear.
The movement pathways of your body help to turn off pain and stress - similar to how if you bump your head, rubbing it makes it feel better.
If you're not challenging the body with movements - those areas of the brain start to degrade and the normal brakes on your pain and stress pathways start to wear out on a cellular level.
Your joints also degenerate with lack of movement - chiropractic and physical therapy can be proactive tools to maintain movement, muscle balance, and stave off degenerative forces.
I am adjusted by a Chiropractor on an average of once every two weeks. Frankly, Chiropractic is not about moving a "bone back into place".
Instead, Chiropractic is centered on restoring movement and muscular balance along the segments of your body and spine which is a tremendous tool of physical recovery and health promotion. In this way, physical therapists and massage therapists can help you achieve the same aims if they do some targeted hands-on work.
When the body is moving correctly, less inflammation occurs in the joints, and less inflammation and degeneration irritates the nerves - and in that sense nervous system health is surely improved.
Home Inversion Table:
I also use a Teeter inversion table at home, which I use after long periods of standing, sitting, or following a higher-impact workout such as basketball or going out for a run. I'll stack this with meditation, an audiobook or podcast, or even write in a journal while hanging upside down.
Inversion tables decompress the spine and open up the joint spaces. They also help return extra fluid to your heart from your legs with the help of gravity - so if your feet are swollen from being on your feet all day - this is another benefit of using inversion tables for recovery.
When you read reviews on inversion tables, you will find that you want the padding that holds your feet to be durable and comfortable - which is why I opt for Teeter rather than the cheap foam footholds you see in other models that will wear out and lose function faster.
Also, safety first when using these and make sure you're in enough physical shape to get in and out of them and have a buddy near by if you're not sure or might be prone to passing out from getting up too quickly or otherwise. Less is more at first and work up your sessions as you tolerate.
Morning walks, stretching, yoga are the first strategies to come to mind in helping to prevent and relieve stress.
**Numerous stretching and yoga routines are available for free on youtube to fit beginner and advanced needs.
Yoga with Adriene is great for starter to moderate difficulty - and Boho Beautiful has some scattered beginner session, but is mostly for the moderate to advanced folks. She does also throw in pilates movements and hosts some "body burn" sessions too!
I often mix in other yoga personalities too if I'm looking to target a specific area over a general video length that I may not find with my usual go-to's.
***Combining Flexibility and Strength Workouts on the Same Day:
If you go through an extended stretching session in the AM, I do not prefer an intense strength training in the afternoon.
An overly stretched muscle is weak and prone to injury - so be careful how you combine your strength training and flexibility work. Over time, the ligaments and connective tissue will adapt to your new ranges of motion and this can take 9+ months.
I do mobility work prior to muscle training - but this is more to get the blood moving and open up a larger range in which to strengthen a muscle group. It does not involve the long, static holds you might get with yoga or traditional stretching. Both have their utilities - I save the long, static holds for my active recovery days and I might follow it with some body weight / light weight exercises for that area (ex/air squats or pushups).
You can still do strength training later in the day, but you shouldn't look to find your max weight. Use your judgment, I have had some unexpected muscle strain injuries in the past from lifting too heavy in an afternoon workout following a previous AM yoga session.
Movement is Essential for the Lymphatic System:
Movement not only gets the blood and nutrients flowing in, it gets the wastes flowing OUT.
Your body has an intricate waste management system known as the lymphatic system. This is a series of vessels dump waste into the blood stream where it can then be acted on and filtered by the liver and kidneys.
The issue with the lymph vessels is that they do not have a "heart" pumping the wastes - it's the movement and contracting muscles that squeeze the vessels and push waste through the one-way system. So when you're not moving - waste is not eliminated efficiently.
Body Work :
Foam rolling has been questioned about its actual ability to work out adhesions and knots in muscle - but it surely does help bring in fresh blood to targeted areas and help push wastes out, which is why it's still a regular habit of my day to day routines.
I still use mine most days as a tool for warm-up and cool-down periods.
Massage therapy combines the relieving nature of touch, along with lymph drainage, and can be combined with aromatherapy, breathing and meditation techniques. While massage therapy prices range - there are certainly worst places you're probably spending money!
Bounding with a Rebounder mini-trampoline or jump rope may seem silly to some - but the idea is that you're pumping your calf muscles, which act as a second heart in the body to help pump fluids back up the body without extra strain on your heart.
The mini-trampoline minimizes the stress of a hard surface and is easier on the muscles and joints.
Both can be used as part of mini circuit workouts at home to get the blood and lymph moving.
Sitting and standing for long periods is a stress on your body. You want to alternate with help of a standing desk or frequent breaks where you get up and moving.
I work with a standing desk and stand on an anti-fatigue mat balance board that keeps my brain and legs and core a little more engaged than straight sitting or standing.
Others use treadmill desks or units that sit under your desk where you can walk at a slow pace to keep the blood moving and the brain active while working.
I've also stacked chairs and books at times to act as standing desks so you can be creative and stay on the cheap side too.
Vigorous Movement Dilates Vessels:
When you get the body moving, you will also release nitrous oxide, which works to open up blood vessels, prevent cardiovascular issues, boost the immune system, and detoxify the body.
Dr. Mercola recommends "nitric oxide dumps" every two hours or so where you get the body moving with quick, high intensity body weight movements and has a tutorial below:
This helps train the vascular system, improve immune function, boost brain health, and support mitochondrial health.
By the way, UV light from the sun will also help with nitric oxide release (another reason to get consistent sunlight during the week).
The movements above are just an example for you - many full-body calisthenic exercises can work in this regard - the idea is periodic four minutes straight of activity to open up those blood vessels and dump nitric oxide into the system to keep your vessels pliant and your brain flush with oxygen-rich blood.
Foundation training to help activate your posterior muscles and counteract chronic sitting and desk-work.
Dr. Eric Goodman is the founder of Foundation Training and you can see a tutorial here:
Take it easy your first time through, trust me - after not engaging these muscle groups for awhile, you'll be sore after your first stab at them!
I learned about Foundation training from Ben Greenfield - a leading biohacker who recommends Foundation training in his book Boundless.
Foundation training can be used as a substitute or in addition to your flexibility work. Whatever you do, stay active.
A body in motion tends to stay in motion.
Now, Pick A Strategy that Works for You
Stress is surely complicated, but I hope these 10 natural strategies show you that you have a number of proactive strategies at your disposal, at largely at no cost, which allow you to see immediate benefits in your body's ability to not only cope with stress, but to reduce it as well.
- Unlocking the Secrets of Willpower - Part 1 - Mental Frameworks
- The Untold World of Oxytocin, Stress, and Life Adversity
- How Meditation Restores Willpower and Self-Control
- The Power of Habit Stacking
- Three Habits to Make Us Happier Long-term
- Six Factors that Determine Why We Have Difficulty Creating Healthy Habits