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  • Writer's pictureMax Twogood

You Need to Calm Down

Updated: Nov 22, 2021

Said the great Taylor Swift! But in all seriousness, let's talk about how stress is holding us back from finding wellness.

These days we are so comfortable with stress that it's hard to even tell when we are stressed.

There are lots of ways we can stress our body: emotional stress, digestive stress, sickness, lack of sleep, too much time between meals... these all can stimulate our stress response hormone: cortisol.

Our stress response is not a bad thing, it keeps us alive. It just was never meant to be ON all the time. It's like buying a stove to cook 3 meals a day but leaving it on all the time.

Cortisol stimulates our sympathetic nervous system and puts our body in a catabolic state that relies on quick burning fuel (sugar) to respond to fight or flight. Conversely in a destressed state our body is more anabolic and relies on slow burning fuel (fat).

Not only does stress create an uphill battle in burning fat, it can also create hormonal imbalances. Cortisol relies on the same hormone the produces testosterone and estrogen, but our body will prioritize cortisol (again to keep us alive), creating hormonal deficiencies and imbalances that have a variety of adverse effects, like: aging, lack of energy, infertility, hair-loss, and weight-gain.

In short: chronic stress can have detrimental effects on our whole being, making it equally important as diet and exercise in achieving our health goals. Carve out at some intentional time throughout the week to pause, destress, and turn it OFF! Here are some example activities and supplements that can support:

  1. Yoga - gentle hatha and restorative yoga classes can help turn on the parasympathetic nervous system. Most yoga classes also incorporate some amount of pranayama (breath) exercises, which, as discussed, can help calm the central nervous system. One of the best yoga styles for turning off the sympathetic nervous system is Yoga Nidra, which incorporates both guided meditations and breath-work to slow down mental fluctuations. Studies have even shown that Yoga Nidra participants exhibit theta brain wave lengths, which are between those of being awake (beta) and asleep (delta)

  2. Walking - Humans bodies are meant to move; but in this day and age, most humans spend the majority of their lives seated. Even a 30-min walk can sound like a lot, but when you compare it to the 11.5 hours of being seated or laying down, it's really not. Walking has lots of health benefits, including calming the nervous system. Try also incorporating some breath-work or relaxing music.

  3. Sleep - Sleep is one of our biggest opportunities to reset the nervous system; adults should be getting at least 8 hours of sleep and ideally between the hours of 9pm and 8am to match our natural diurnal rhythm. To ensure that sleep is deep and restorative reduce screen time before bed, shut down any electronics around you while you sleep, make the room as dark and quiet as possible, and avoid eating at least 3 hours before bed.

  4. Supplements - There are some supplements that can also help you destress. Magnesium supplements are can help calm the central nervous system and achieve a deeper more restorative sleep. L-theanine is an amino acide that can reduce the mental and physical symptoms of stress. Teas with valerian root and chamomile are great calming the mind before bed. Ashwaganda is a natural adaptogen that can be used throughout the day to calm the nervous system, maintain mental energy, and reduce anxiety. Other natural supplements that help reduce stress include rhodiola and eleuthero.


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