6 Easy Ways to Reduce Stress

Most of my clients suffer from some form of stress. They are stuck in ‘fight and flight’ mode.

Do you ever feel like you’re;

  • Always on ‘edge’?

  • Constantly looking out for a threat, (hypervigilent)?

  • Ready to run from perceived danger?

  • Always feeling stressed?

In this article Melissa Aytan, Functional Nutritionist at Living Holistic Health reviews stress, its symptoms and its impact on the Sympathetic Nervous System. She reveals 6 simple ways you can reduce stress by teaching your body to deal with the effects of stress and to promote your ‘rest and digest’ response.

If you constantly have the feeling of being on edge, hypervigilant and are anxiously looking for threats and perceived danger it could mean you are Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) dominant and in a state of permanent stress.

Stress basically in all its forms, activates the SNS.

Stress could be physical, physiological, internal (your gut or hormones), emotional, environmental, psychological and more.

Think about how many of those things you need to combat every day.

The key to dealing with the effects of stress on your body is to promote your ‘rest and digest’ response. It’s technical name is the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). Your PNS has the opposite effect on your body that the ‘Fight/Flight’ SNS stress response has.

The job of the PNS is to promote calmness, relaxation, lower blood pressure, better sleep and better digestion.

Below are 6 simple ways you can directly stimulate your PNS and work towards reducing stress.

The result should be reduced stress, a feeling of more calm, ability to focus and better able to deal with stress.

Long term it will create hormonal balance, increased energy, more clarity and a sense of vitality.

6 Easy Ways to Reduce Stress

Of course there are underlying physiological reasons why your SNS could be activated, like gut infections, but let’s focus on what we can control for now.

1.  Breathing

This seems so easy it’s almost not worth doing BUT it is the most important! 
And easy to do at any time during the day. It’s a quick way to activate the PNS.

· ✅breath deeply and slowly in through the nose from the abdomen

· ✅breathe out through the mouth slowing making an oceanic sound

· ✅5 times, more if you have time.

· ✅ do this as often as you can during the day; in the car, in the shower, walking...

2.  Earthing

There have been plenty of studies done on the effect of cortisol and earthing. It’s quite simply being in direct contact with the earths natural surface; grass, sand, dirt, ocean water... which transfers the energy from the ground to your body.

I used to do this when I worked in the city at lunch time and instantly felt more calm.

Scientifically earthing has been proven to balance the nervous system and restore PNS, with data showing lower blood pressure and improved arrhythmias.

Take your shoes off and get out side!

3.  Shinrin-yuko (forest bathing)

Research about the Japanese practice of forest bathing shows that time spent in nature lowers stress levels – and could even help fight cancer.

 Just getting out in nature anywhere, anytime will help tap into the PNS. 

4.  Tapping

Tapping, also known as EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), is a powerful holistic healing technique that has been proven to effectively resolve a range of issues, including stress, anxiety, phobias, emotional disorders, chronic pain, addiction, weight control, and limiting beliefs, just to name a few.

Tapping therapy is based on the combined principles of ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology.

Tapping with the fingertips on specific meridian endpoints of the body, while focusing on negative emotions or physical sensations helps to calm the nervous system, rewire the brain to respond in healthier ways and restore the body’s balance of energy.

You may think this sounds a bit woo woo but Harvard Medical School have research supporting the benefits. 

Check out this 4 min video clip to see how you do it.

5.  Muscle Relaxation

By actively relaxing your muscles, using either something like a relaxation meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, or any other exercise that focuses on relaxing the body, you will be automatically forcing the PNS to activate itself.

There is an interesting interchange between the parasympathetic nervous system causing you to become relaxed, and then you wilfully turning it on (and therefore increasing your ability to be relaxed), via indirect methods such as muscle relaxation.

A warm bath is another great way to relax and activate you PNS.
 

6.  Gratitude

Research shows expressing gratitude can help activate the PNS, calming the nervous system.

Think about three things in your life you feel grateful for and list the reasons in your head you appreciate them.

Your heart rate will slow down, blood pressure decreases and you’ll feel a sense of positivity.

Try implementing these simple tips into your day so they become habit. 

The more you can do the better but even just including one can make a difference to your nervous system. 

I’ve had many clients come back after trying these free techniques to report various symptoms have dissipated.  There are of course underlying reasons why you may need supplements or further investigations done but this is a start.

By Melissa Aytan, Functional Nutritionist at Living Holistic Health.

Want an appointment to see Melissa?

Mel Aytan is a certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition practitioner with a Bachelor of Applied Science and Nutritional Medicine. Mel joins Nutritionist Adrian Stone and Naturopath Morgan Helming at Living Holistic Health, a Geelong based alternative and holistic health clinic.