How to Relax When Life Throws a Curve Ball
By Sarah Balke
Sometimes life throws us a curve ball when we are least expecting it and each of us handles stress differently. Some outwardly spew about the “new” stress in their life on social media. Others shut down and pull inward, doing everything in their power to block out the reality that just hit them.
Regardless of how you choose to handle stress, your body perceives it as a threat, which can trigger a cascade of stress hormones that produce well-orchestrated physiological changes. Unfortunately, your body doesn’t always know the difference between an immediate threat and a non-life threatening stressors. The result… your body gets stuck in “fight” mode in reaction to chronic stress and continued elevation of cortisol levels, the “stress hormone.” This puts you at increased risk of many health problems including: headaches, stomachaches, anxiety, weight gain, sleep problems, and memory troubles.
Here are some tips to help you reduce cortisol levels and symptoms associated with stress:
- Try relaxation techniques: According to a Harvard Medical School article, meditation, body scanning, breathing techniques, yoga, repetitive prayer, and guided imagery are all great ways to help invoke the “relaxation response.” Try sampling several different techniques to find out which one works best for you. To start, set aside 20 minutes each day to work on relaxation. Consider adding moist heat during some of these techniques to help relax your muscles.
- Eat Healthy: If you find yourself constantly reaching for a snack when you are feeling stressed, you can blame it on cortisol. This “stress hormone” is responsible f