When stress levels are low, life is good.
Amazing sleep. Unbelievable focus. Unwavering motivation. A rockin sex drive.
With low stress levels, your health is sky high and the colors of the world just look brighter.
But what happens when stress raises, becomes chronic, and starts to tear you down?
Depression, anxiety, brain fog, insomnia, fatigue, apathy...
Life becomes miserable. Take those colors and fade them to black and white.
And while these hard-hitting stresses are more common than ever in our modern lifestyles, there ARE powerful steps you can take to combat them.
Stress can come in many different forms.
Physical stress can be from injury, surgery, or even really hard exercise or exertion.
Mental stress can be from pressure to meet deadlines and needing to focus on work all the time.
Emotional stress might be from problems with a significant other, family, or friends.
Nutritional stress can be from eating the wrong foods (like the polyunsaturated fats), or not eating enough food.
Behavioral stress can be from not sleeping enough or smoking cigarettes.
There are countless other forms of stress in our world, and there’s no way we can avoid them all - nor would we want to.
But what we do need to do is reduce the causes of stress while bolstering our ability to cope with these stresses in order to ultimately bring our bodies back into balance.
Since our world is so skewed towards these rampantly high stress levels, it places that much more importance on the tools we have for lowering stress.
Here are some of the most powerful and effective ways for keeping stress levels low.
More and more research is supporting the idea that mindfulness practices like meditation and yoga can actually change your brain and lower your stress hormones.
It makes perfect sense - the ability to separate from yourself and view your troubles objectively makes everything you face far easier, and allows you to make better decisions.
If you feel like all of your troubles are life and death, your body will release the same stress hormones as if it actually were life and death.
But as soon as you step outside of yourself and train your mind and your perspective to recognize that you are not your thoughts and emotions - but rather the thing watching your thoughts and emotions - you immediately turn the stress dial down on every negative event.
You don’t need to rely on the research to prove this - try it yourself.
Sit quietly for 5-10 minutes and focus on watching your breath - in and then out. Pay attention to how it feels and where your body is in space.
Whenever you notice yourself getting caught up in thought, take a second to recognize that you lost control over your attention and went from observing your body to identifying with your thoughts.
This is a good thing, because it’s an opportunity to recognize that you stopped taking control over your attention. As soon as you gain that awareness, it allows you to start taking steps towards improving it, even in your normal life outside of a formal meditation or yoga session.
Over time, you’ll start to see the world in a better light, and understand that when negative things happen, they’re not as big of a deal as you used to make them out to be.
As a result, your stress levels will stay lower, you’ll be happier and more fulfilled, and your body will thank you.
Although it’s far more rare for people to take baths nowadays, this can be an exceptional tool for boosting recovery and shutting down stress.
The warm water is relaxing for the muscles, and taking a specific chunk of time out of your day to chill out and focus on restoring your body does wonders for your health.
But there’s far more to a recovery bath than just warm water and relaxing. By adding minerals and other nutrients, we can actually change your internal nutritional and hormonal environment for a better state of health.
You can add a variety of different things to your warm recovery bath, but our favorites are:
Try any or all of these, and find which ones you like best. Aim to schedule out 2-3 nights to relax in a recovery bath for the best results.
Not only will you reduce your stress levels, but your skin will look better as well.
Adaptogens are simply herbs that help your body reduce stress and normalize certain bodily processes.
Many of them have been used for centuries as ancient medicine, and science has begun to reveal the power they can have.
For example, an herb called ashwagandha (specifically, the KSM-66 strain) has been shown to substantially reduce cortisol levels.
Because of the many studies showing how effective and healthy ashwagandha is, it’s one of our absolute favorite adaptogens. It’s even been shown to increase testosterone and exercise performance in men.
Note: This is one of the reasons we included the KSM-66 strain of ashwagandha in our best-selling testosterone boosting supplement, Testro-X.
Other adaptogens that can help lower stress include ginseng, cordyceps, rhodiola rosea, and phosphatidylserine (while not technically an adaptogen, phosphatidylserine has many similar stress-reducing effects).
One of the main ways stress exerts its effects in the body is through the inflammation process.
Normally this process helps to heal a wound or overcome a stress, but under chronic stress it becomes rampant and ends up getting in the way of the healthy function of your organs and tissues.
There are many signals that can increase or decrease inflammation on their own, and one of the biggest ones in our diet is the type of protein we eat.
In the typical American diet, the main source of protein we get is from the muscle meats of animals. When we talk about beef, pork, and poultry meats, we’re talking about the muscles of these animals.
But in traditional cultures, the gelatin, collagen, skin, and all other parts of the animals were consumed as well.
The reason this is so important is that the muscle meats contain a higher proportion of amino acids that activate inflammation, like tryptophan, cysteine, methionine, and histidine, while the other parts of the animal contain more of the anti-inflammatory amino acids, like glycine, proline, alanine, and hydroxyproline.
This is supported by the fact that glycine has been shown to protect against inflammation, reduce fatigue and improve concentration, and improve protein synthesis, recovery, immunity and anti-oxidant capacity.
Now, this doesn’t mean that it’s bad to eat muscle meats, but rather that we must balance the higher proportion of inflammatory amino acids with the anti-inflammatory amino acids.
This ultimately means that we want to get more protein from sources like gelatin, collagen, and bone broth, which all contain these beneficial amino acids.
Simply sipping on warm bone broth with some salt, pepper, and other spices during the day or at night will greatly help your body relax and shut down stress.
Another major cause of out-of-control inflammation is oxidative stress from too many free radicals.
Free radicals are created in your body whenever an oxygen interacts with an unstable molecule, breaking one of its double bonds to create two single, unpaired electrons.
Since electrons are usually paired together, single electrons as free radicals will try to “steal” electrons from other compounds in order to become stable.
This causes oxidative damage to tissues, creating inflammation and a stress response.
Your body, however, has an “antioxidant” defense system, involving vitamin E, vitamin C, and glutathione, which all work together to eliminate the free radicals and prevent the damage they can cause.
So in order to decrease oxidative stress on the whole, we want to focus on both reducing the amount of free radicals being created, while also improving our antioxidant system for handling them.
To reduce the amount of free radicals being created, the main thing we want to do is reduce the amount of unstable compounds we consume.
The biggest offender here is the polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), which contain many unstable double bonds that will break into free radicals when exposed to heat, light, and oxygen (two of which are obviously very abundant in your body).
By avoiding PUFAs and consuming more of the stable saturated and monounsaturated fats, you’ll be reducing the oxidative stress created in your body.
On the other side of the spectrum, consuming more antioxidant foods, especially adequate vitamin E and vitamin C, will bolster your body’s own defense system and lead to higher protection overall.
You can also supplement with glutathione directly, which is the third compound involved in the antioxidant defense system.
This one is a powerful way to reduce stress for two reasons.
First, walking and other low intensity exercise helps to increase blood flow and nutrient delivery throughout the body without putting stress on your body like higher intensity exercise does. This is a great example of “active recovery”, where you can boost your body’s healing capabilities with light movement.
Second, being in nature is highly impactful on lowering your stress levels and improving your wellbeing. There was even a Japanese study done where participants either walked in the city or in a forest, and cortisol levels were found to be significantly lower in the forest group than the city group.
There are many reasons why being in nature is healthy, from getting more sunlight to draining positive ion build-up (called “grounding”), and even just breathing fresher air.
Another big part of this is the effect of being around living plants and the psychological impact of connecting with the natural world.
Simply taking time to “step away” from your life and be out in nature is massively helpful for giving you perspective and understanding what’s truly important.
Finally, our bodies do the most healing work while we sleep each night.
This is time dedicated to repairing tissues, cleaning house and resetting your system, and as such, it’s crucial to optimize it.
Here are several ways to improve the quality of your sleep:
Since a typical sleep cycle lasts 1.5 hours, aim for at least 7.5-9 hours of sleep (5-6 cycles) per night.
Remember that everyone is different, and that too much sleep can also be detrimental. As always, experiment to find the optimal amount of sleep that works best for you, personally.
Stress comes in many different forms and it’s an unavoidable part of life.
By putting our attention on the balance of stress in our life and learning what tools we have to combat it, we can accelerate our health to amazing levels.
Of all the tools we have for reducing stress, the 7 most powerful ones are:
If you start using these tools to their full potential, you’ll see massive improvements in all areas of health, and begin feeling the joy of living a much higher quality life.
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