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 hard-hitting stress is super common in our modern lifestyle, there ARE steps you can take to combat them.
What Does It Take To Lower Stress?
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 forms of stress in the world, and there’s no way we can avoid them all. (Nor would we want to.)
But what we do need is to reduce the causes of stress while bolstering our ability to cope with these stresses. This will ultimately bring our bodies back into balance.
The 7 Most Powerful Ways to Get Rid of Stress
Since our life is synonymous with high stress levels, we must use the tools at our disposal to reduce said stress. Here are some of the most powerful and effective ways for keeping stress levels low.
1. Practice Mindfulness
Research supports 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. Plus, it 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 hormone 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 you’re NOT your thoughts and emotions — but rather only 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. You can try it yourself.
Sit quietly for 5-10 minutes and focus on your breath — in and 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. Go from identifying with your thoughts back to simply observing your body.
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 outside of formal meditation or yoga sessions.
Over time, you’ll understand that when negative things happen, they’re not as big of a deal as you used to think they were. As a result, you lower your stress level, you’ll be happier and more fulfilled, and your body will thank you.
2. Take a Recovery Bath
Although it’s rare for people to take baths nowadays, this is an exceptional tool for boosting recovery and shutting down stress. The warm water is relaxing for the muscles. Not only that, taking 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, you can change your internal nutritional and hormonal environment for improved well-being.
You can add a variety of different things to your warm recovery bath:
- Epsom salt (magnesium salt)
- Table salt (sodium chloride)
- Honey or sugar
- Baking soda
- Essential oils (specifically lavender)
Try any or all of these, and find which ones you like best. Aim for two to three nights per week to relax in a recovery bath for optimal results. Not only will you reduce your stress levels, but your skin will look better as well.
3. Take Adaptogens
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 now, science has begun to reveal its true power.
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.
(This is one of the reasons we included KSM-66 ashwagandha in our best-selling testosterone boosting supplement, Testro-X.)
Other adaptogens that can help lower stress include ginseng, cordyceps, rhodiola rosea and phosphatidylserine. (Note: While not technically an adaptogen, phosphatidylserine has many similar stress-reducing effects).
4. Drink Bone Broth
Stress creates inflammation in the body, which leads to chronic pain and other health issues. Normally, this process helps heal a wound or overcome stress. But under chronic stress, it becomes rampant and gets in the way of healthy organ and tissue function.
There are many signals that increase or decrease inflammation on their own. One of the biggest ones in our diet is the type of protein we eat. In the typical American diet, we get our main source of protein from the muscle meats of animals. This means beef, pork and poultry.
But in traditional cultures, the gelatin, collagen, skin and all other parts of the animals were consumed as well. This is so important because muscle meats contain a higher proportion of amino acids that activate inflammation. Muscle meats have a ton of common amino acids, like tryptophan, cysteine, methionine and histidine. On the other hand, other parts of the animal contain more of the anti-inflammatory amino acids, like glycine, proline, alanine and hydroxyproline.
Now, this doesn’t mean that it’s bad to eat muscle meats. Rather, we must balance the higher proportion of inflammatory amino acids with the anti-inflammatory amino acids. Because of this, we want to get more protein from sources like gelatin, collagen and bone broth, which all contain these beneficial amino acids.
Simply sip on warm bone broth with some salt, pepper and other spices. This will greatly help your body relax and reduce stress.
5. Reduce Oxidative 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. Due to this, it does oxidative damage to your tissues, creating inflammation and a stress response.
However, your body has an “antioxidant” defense system, composed of vitamin E, vitamin C and glutathione. All of these work together to eliminate free radicals and prevent further damage.
Therefore, to decrease oxidative stress on the whole, we want to focus on reducing the amount of free radicals being created. As well, we should also improve our antioxidant systems for handling them.
To reduce the amount of free radicals being created, we must reduce the amount of unstable compounds we consume. The biggest offenders here are 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 very abundant in your body). By avoiding PUFAs and consuming more of the stable saturated and monounsaturated fats, you reduce 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 defense system. You can also supplement with glutathione directly, which is the third compound involved in the antioxidant defense system.
6. Walk in Nature
Another amazing tool for reducing stress, taking a walk in nature is a powerful way to reduce stress.
This is because of two reasons. First, walking and other low-intensity exercises help increase blood flow and nutrient delivery throughout the body. What’s more, these do this without putting stress on your body like high-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 levels of stress and improving your wellbeing. A Japanese study had participants either walk in the city or in a forest. Researchers found that cortisol levels were 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”). Even just breathing fresher air has its benefits. Another big part of this is the effect of being around living plants and the psychological impact of connecting with the natural world.
Simply take time and “step away” from your life. Get out in nature to give yourself perspective and understanding of what’s truly important.
7. Optimize Your Sleep
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:
- Have a bedtime routine
- Make your room as dark as possible
- Avoid blue light from electronics at night
- Keep your room cool (63-68 degrees F)
- Avoid caffeine late in the day
- Read fiction before bed
- Stay on a regular schedule
- Drink bone broth before bed
- Eat carbs later in the day
- Avoid a big meal right before bed
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.
Reclaim Your Power to Fight Stress
Stress comes in many different forms and it’s an unavoidable part of life. By paying attention on balancing 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 seven most powerful are:
- Practicing mindfulness
- Taking a recovery bath
- Taking adaptogens
- Drinking bone broth
- Reducing oxidative stress
- Walking in nature
- Optimizing your sleep
If you start using these tools to their full potential, you’ll see massive improvements in all areas of health. Not only that, you’ll feel the joy of living a much higher quality of life.