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Navigating Modern Stress: Understanding Its Impact and Effective Management Strategies

Stress can be difficult to manage in the modern world since most of our daily stressors are silent or invisible threats. When we were cavemen and women, we could see the threat. We could see the lion, the tiger, the lack of food, the need for shelter. When we can see the threat we are more likely to overcome it. For example, when we see the lion, our nervous system kicks on to fight-or-flight, we run and hide, the lion goes away, and then our nervous system calms back down and switches back to a place of rest, digestion, and healing.

 However, today, most of us are lucky to have roofs over our heads, controlled climates, and one-stop shops where we can get any food we want. Instead, our modern-day stress consists of things like work pressure, financial concerns, technology overload, and relationship issues. The problem with modern-day stressors is that they never seem to be complete or finished, so our bodies may stay more in that sympathetic, fight-or-flight side of the nervous system. It keeps us in the loop of constant threat. We stay activated and keep producing cortisol so we are ready for anything. Over time, this results in burnout, belly fat, and other seemingly unrelated physical, emotional, and mental symptoms. 

Stress affects everyone differently. Some common symptoms of stress are headaches, muscle tension, digestive issues, difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite, anxiety, irritability, feelings of overwhelm, lack of motivation, sadness, mental restlessness, memory issues, and being easily frustrated. 

Not to worry, we can overcome this. The first step is an acknowledgment and awareness that we may be stressed. Second, we start practicing mindfulness and build-in practices to help calm our mind and body. 

Here are four practices to help you manage your stress

  1. Journal - writing it out can be helpful to get the stress and thoughts out of your minds and on paper. This helps free your mind of your anxieties and worries.

  2. Nature Walks - sometimes too vigorous of exercise can increase our sympathetic nervous system. If a hard workout feels like too much, try going for a walk in nature.

  3. Box Breathing - Box breathing helps to calm and balance our nervous system. When we inhale and exhale in equal parts, we can directly affect our physiology. Try it out... inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, repeat for 5 rounds

  4. Acupressure - can help stimulate endorphins, reduce muscle tension, and improve circulation and energy flow. To perform gently press or hold the acupuncture point and take a few breaths. Try these points when you're feeling stressed. 

If you're interested in learning more about your stress levels, Thorne has an at home saliva test that measures your cortisol and DHEA. "This at-home saliva test provides insights about your stress response and adrenal health by measuring hormone fluctuations. Results include a personalized health plan". Learn more here!


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