7 Tools that Helped me Decrease Stress and Anxiety

August 07, 2020

7 Tools that Helped me Decrease Stress and Anxiety

Adrenal fatigue or adrenal dysfunction is a condition seen in people who suffer from chronic stress and anxiety. 


In this article I discuss a summary of the stress management techniques that have helped me on my road to recovery from chronic stress and adrenal dysfunction.

 
If this topic is of interest to you, keep reading until the end, where I discuss 7 specific techniques and tools to help you deal with chronic stress and anxiety. 
I’m fairly well acquainted with stress and anxiety. These days I know how it feels, how to manage it and most importantly, I recognize it and it doesn’t scare me anymore.

 
For a long time I let it get the best of me and it ruled my life. Along the way I have explored many tools and I would like to share with you what has worked for me. 
From the perspective of functional nutrition, it’s important to understand that your body is a system and that any imbalance in the body/mind affects the entire system as a whole. We also need to remember that in this system all things matter and that we are individuals, so everything will affect us differently. One size does not fit all. Remember this is a journey and it’ll be different for you than it was for me. 


When we’re stressed we tend to turn to self-medicating with overeating, not sleeping, drinking too much or engaging in addictive behaviors that soothe us temporarily, but don’t do anything to help us get better. Instead, let’s look at ways to get us out of the chronic stress cycle onto a healing journey. 

 

  1. Neuroplasticity and Belief:  

Did you know that your brain chatter and your beliefs about your condition can either heal you or make you sick? We talk to ourselves more than we talk to anyone else and we believe our thoughts about ourselves and our condition. 


The science of neuroplasticity shows us that our thoughts can change neuronal pathways in the brain. The brain is moldable; plastic, if you will. You may have heard the phrase: “this is hard-wired in the brain”. This is no longer true. The brain has been shown to have an ability to change according to our thoughts and beliefs. If you want to change your brain and your condition, change your thoughts. Say something different, focus on uplifting thoughts and talk to yourself in a positive manner until you start believing your new reality. 


Since the effects of chronic stress can manifest as pain or illness in the body, recognizing negative patterns of thinking and changing those patterns can make a difference in how you experience life. The new paradigm is based on the work of Donald Hebb who is quoted as saying: “neurons that fire together wire together”, meaning that one thought repeated over and over creates pathways in the brain that keep us stuck in pain and anxiety. If you want to learn more about this you can go to my bookshelf for a great book by neuroscientist Dr Norman Doidge who wrote “The Brain that Changes Itself”.


  • Mindfulness:

  • We live in a time of distraction. Studies show that we go through life not being aware of what we do or how we feel. We don’t stop to enjoy positive input around us or positive feelings. A distracted mind is an unhappy mind. If we can focus on the present moment and start appreciating it for what it is, we realize we have so many things to be thankful for and appreciate. 


    I have found that when I stop to be thankful and become aware of positive things in my life everything shifts toward the positive. Have you noticed that when you’re enjoying a joyful moment with loved ones pain seems to dissipate? 
    In this society we tend to use electronics as a means to distract our minds from the present moment. Take a conscious break from electronics and consider becoming mindful of the present. It takes some effort but the payoffs are huge. 

     

  • Prayer and Meditation:

  • Meditating and using rhythmic breathing techniques to calm the nervous system has been used as therapy to calm anxiety widely. Slowing down the breath by counting as you inhale and exhale helps to slow down heart rate and helps us focus on the present moment. 


    I use my meditation time as a prayer time to focus on God’s word and his promises to me. I believe He has a good plan for me and that his promises are true. The word of God has helped me center my emotions and reminds me I’m not in control.


    Whatever your beliefs are, it is important to meditate on them and read or speak them out loud to your soul so you can calm yourself and realize that you’re not alone and you don’t have to carry your burdens on your own shoulders. 

     

  • Heart Math:

  • Heart Math measures Heart Rate Variability(HRV) or the heart’s rhythmic activity. This is affected by stress and relaxation. Your ability to recover from a stressful situation shows resilience. Heart Math and the app Inner Balance are tools you can use to measure resilience or Heart Rate Variability. Heart Math shows you how to get into coherence, which is a rhythmic pattern of calm and peace. You can teach your brain how to get into coherence with this tool. Here is a link to this unique device. 

     

  • Essential Oils:

  • EO’s have been shown in studies to calm the nervous system, either by diffusing them, taking them internally or applying them to the skin. My favorite oils are the mint family oils: Spearmint, peppermint, rosemary, thyme and sage. Rose and bergamot have also been shown to help calm down the nervous system. I use them topically by diluting them with fractionated coconut oil and placing them in a glass roll-on vial. I have a YouTube video showing you how to do it. Please go to my YouTube channel under “Monica Paz Nourished Functional Nutrition” and you will find it. 

      

  • Yoga and Laughter Yoga:

  • Yoga is a meditative form of movement that helps you stretch your body and calm your mind. Yoga has been key for me in helping me calm anxious thoughts and relieve muscle and joint pain. Laughter yoga is fun and it makes you laugh, which ultimately helps your body release feel-good neurotransmitters, changing brain chemicals in the brain. My YouTube channel also has a laughter yoga video where I invite you to laugh with me. 

      

  • Community and Connection:

  • We are distracted and lonely. Perhaps we’re distracted because we’re lonely. Loneliness has been shown in studies to affect over 70% of middle aged Americans. It’s a more significant predictor of early mortality than obesity. 
    Reaching out to friends, family and neighbors could be exactly what the doctor ordered. We’re created for connection. Suffering alone does not help us get better. Connect with loved ones and admit you need help. Stepping out and being courageously vulnerable will do more for your health than you know. 
    These techniques I’ve used personally on my healing journey. I hope they’ve been helpful to you. If you found this blog helpful, please be sure to share it with friends and family. Here is a link to a free handout “Nourishing Superfoods for the Anxious” for you.

     

    Yours in Wellness,

    - Monica

     

    Monica Paz, MS, CN, FNLP

    Nourished Functional Nutrition, LLC




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