5 Easy Stress-Reducing Tips You Need ASAP, Because Stress Really Does Take A Toll On The Body

Stress really is the silent killer and yet many women shove it to the side because they have so many things on their plate. But we really must reduce our stress as much as possible because your health depends on it. Luckily, there are some easy ways you can relax that don't take much effort.

By Gina Florio3 min read
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Most of us deal with a great amount of stress every day, even if we don't realize it. Many women tend to brush it off and just power through their day-to-day tasks because they have so many other important things to worry about. But a buildup of stress takes a toll on the body and it really does affect our health if it's left alone. An unhealthy level of stress hormones in the body can cause hormonal disruption, abnormal menstrual cycles, chronic pain, and poor gut health.

When we think about health, we consider diet and exercise, and maybe sleep. But while these are very important components to overall health, we can't forget the role that stress plays. A perpetually high level of cortisol in the body also stunts weight-loss efforts; it causes the body to hold onto fat rather than burn it, it elevates hunger hormones, and makes it much easier to make emotional decisions (like overeating). If you're someone who has a lot on your plate and you know you deal with a lot of stress, rest easy knowing there are some very simple ways you can reduce your stress, as long as you do them on a regular basis.

Go Outside Every Day—and Put Your Feet in the Grass

Nature is an instant destressor. Going outside and experiencing the sun, grass, and trees can help reduce feelings of anxiety, anger, and fear. It also increases levels of serotonin (the happy chemical) and boosts testosterone (which helps build lean muscle, burn fat faster, and improve overall mood). Research says going outside can even reduce blood pressure, lower your heart rate, and decrease the production of stress hormones. There's really no downside to spending more time outside.

Nature is an instant destressor.

Sadly, Americans on average spend only 7% of their life outside. That means the majority of our life is spent inside under fluorescent lights. No wonder so many people are suffering from depression and anxiety. Make it a daily habit to go outside every single day; even if it's raining, you can get some benefit from sitting outside under a cover and enjoying the smell of rainfall.

Even better if you can put your bare feet in grass, sand, or dirt every day. This is called grounding, and it's a practice that reduces inflammation, decreases chronic pain, boosts your mood, and even helps you regulate your sleep/wake cycle. Take your shoes and socks off and just walk around in the grass for a few minutes a day; you can sit down in the grass too and touch it with your hands. It sounds silly and a little juvenile, but it truly helps to reduce stress.

Move Your Body at Least 15 Minutes a Day

You already know this but you might need the reminder: exercising regularly has a tremendous impact on your overall health and stress reduction. A 6-week study of 185 university students found that exercising just two days a week reduced stress and fear of the future. We have a tendency to think about exercise as a strenuous, hour-long session in the gym. But that's not always the case.

You can achieve daily physical activity by going for a walk outside for 15 minutes, doing some daily mobility or stretching, doing light resistance training, etc. As long as you're moving your body regularly, you will find that your stress reduces. Make it a habit for 2 weeks straight to move the body every single day and you might be surprised at how much it decreases your overall stress.

Turn Off Electronics at Least 30-60 Minutes Before Bed

Our culture is addicted to technology and it's nearly impossible to escape the blue light that stimulates our brain and makes us alert. That's why it's so important to create a cutoff time for your electronic use every night. We hardly realize just how much social media, emails, and constant text messages affect our stress levels and increase cortisol in the body. If we want to relax, decompress, and truly slow down the mind, we have to start being more intentional about our electronic use.

Make it a point to put down all your electronics at least 30-60 minutes before bedtime. Shut off your TV, iPad, and yes even your phone. Use this time to read, spend time with loved ones, journal and pray/meditate. You want your body to feel extremely relaxed before your head hits the pillow, and you definitely can't achieve that if you're staring at a screen for hours on end.

Do Wim Hof Breathing

Wim Hof is a Dutch athlete who became famous for running a marathon in the ice and snow—shirtless and barefoot. He developed a breathwork method that helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (your "rest and digest" system) and slow down your heart rate. It's a great way to instantly relieve stress and feel more relaxed. You don't need anything to complete this breathing exercise. You can either sit down to complete it or even lay down in bed. If you're having trouble winding down for sleep, you can do it in bed lying down in order to help you fall asleep.

Caffeine is a neurotoxin and it spikes cortisol in your body.

Give Up Caffeine

This is probably the most difficult task out of this whole list because so many people are addicted to caffeine and love the ritual of coffee. But at the end of the day, caffeine is a neurotoxin (meaning it has a toxic effect on your nervous system) and it spikes cortisol in your body. You may feel like you have tons of energy when you finish that cup of joe, but it's nothing more than artificial energy that will cause a crash later and leave you feeling anxious.

If you're serious about reducing stress and lowering cortisol in the body, you'd be surprised at what a positive impact giving up caffeine will have on the body. Instead of relying on coffee, opt in for caffeine-free tea, a turmeric latte, etc. After you give up caffeine for a few weeks, you'll very likely see that you have less stress and anxiety—and you'll sleep better every night.