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Top 10 Activities for Stress Reduction

By Natalie Collier, MScN

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Your adrenal glands, located on top of your kidneys, are responsible for managing your stress response. Cortisol is released into the blood by the adrenals in response to stress, which then transports cortisol throughout the body. Blood levels of cortisol vary but should be highest in the morning when we wake up, and then fall slowly throughout the day. When the body is under continuous stress, your adrenals get over stimulated and eventually become depleted. The cortisol curve may have a major spike in the evening, leading to sleep disturbances or may stay low consistently, making us feel exhausted. Are you guilty of any of the following long-term stressors? 

What are Common Chronic Stressors?

  • You get stuck in numerous traffic jams everyday
  • You and your spouse fight constantly
  • You work in a job you hate
  • You live in a dangerous neighborhood where break ins are very common
  • Constant financial stress
  • You eat foods you have a known food sensitivity or allergy to on a regular basis
  • You regularly clean your house with toxic chemicals
  • You drink caffeinated beverages all day 
  • You regularly skip meals leading to consistent blood sugar imbalances

The adrenals will respond to all sources of stress on the body. Sources of stress for the adrenals may include blood sugar imbalances, inflammation, overuse of caffeine and any perceived dietary, physical, emotional, chemical or life-change stress. It’s also important to remember that stress is unavoidable and completely okay in moderation. It’s when stress is chronic that we start to experience signs of tired adrenals.

What are the symptoms of tired adrenals?

  • Fatigue
  • Sleep cycle disturbances
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weakness
  • Salt cravings
  • Weight gain & belly fat 

To address chronic stress, you want to add in stress reducers and eliminate chronic stressors wherever possible. 

Science says, these 10 activities will reduce stress.

  1. Regular moderate exercise can help us better cope with emotional stress. 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous exercise is suggested. Weight training three times per week can have similar benefits on the stress response.  
  2. Deep breathing also known as diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing has been shown to turn on the brakes on the stress response by stimulating the vagus nerve. 
  3. Meditation can help to reduce anxiety and symptoms of stress. 
  4. Playing with or petting your pet can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol. More specifically, healing with horses also known as Equine Therapy is used in the treatment of PTSD and Autism.  
  5. Take a technology detox. “Constant checkers” of social media, email and texts have reported higher stress. 
  6. Spend time with family or friends who bring you joy. Relationships can be a huge source of stress reduction and also have a great impact on reducing risk for mortality.
  7. Yoga has been shown to have a positive impact on reducing depression, anxiety and stress. 
  8. Keep a gratitude journal and write down five things you are grateful for daily. Gratitude is related to a 23% lower levels of stress hormones (cortisol) and overall better health. 
  9. Spend time in Time in natural environments has been shown to reduce stress.
  10. Laughter for stress reduction. Watch a comedic movie or try a Laughter Yoga class. Laughter even in the absence of humor can have beneficial physiological impacts on the body and stress response.
If you're looking for more insight into your adrenal stress hormones, Wellnicity's My Stress Test is a great place to start! Get the answers and the solution with The Wellnicity Method. We don't tell you what you need. Your body tells us.