It is no secret that we are all facing unprecedented levels of stress in the world today. Whether that’s due to current events or the fast-paced way of modern life, we can agree that stress and anxieties are at an all-time high. The main source of all chronic illnesses can be attributed to various forms of stress within the hormone, immune, digestion, detoxification, energy and nervous system, which Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® health coaches seek out using functional lab testing.
Most people spend little time addressing their mental or emotional stress and aren’t even aware of its far-reaching effects. Incredibly important in today’s environment, stress leads to a compromised immune system and increased illnesses.
However, there are ways to reduce risk for chronic illness or even put them into remission. One important element in the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® healing process is stress management. Chronic stress can cause an array of symptoms ranging from feelings of exhaustion, brain-fog and hormone imbalances to digestion and elimination problems.
As a health coach it’s important to lead by example for clients. One of the two requirements for becoming a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Health Coach is being willing to “walk the talk.”
This is why three tests are included in the course for every trainee, giving you the chance to assess different types of contributors to your stress, the impact they are having on your health and the opportunity to work with a mentor to coach down contributors to stress and build up health in the body.
There are things you and your clients can do each day to reduce your body’s overall stress burden and build health to keep symptoms and even chronic illnesses at bay!
Often when we are stressed, or deeply focused on a task, we hold our breath and forget to breathe. But most people are unaware that this happens. The lack of oxygen is a distinct form of stress in the body! But getting adequate oxygen helps to feed the brain and relax the body. When you do some gentle, deep breathing, the benefits occur quickly. The best part about deep breathing for stress reduction is that you can do it anywhere! Taking time to breathe deeply for 1-2 minutes throughout your day can significantly help you to reduce stress! Try it at bedtime and you’ll get to sleep faster too!
Here’s a simple breathing exercise that can reduce stress significantly in less than two minutes:
Inhale, slowly and gently for a count of four seconds. Then hold that breath for a count of five seconds. Exhale the breath slowly for a count of seven or eight seconds. That’s it!
It may sound simple, and it is. Deep breathing exercises like this one are one of the fastest ways to let go of stress and tension. Most health coaches recommend deep breathing exercises to their clients to help eliminate stress. Taking the time to slow your breath down and breathe deeply and fully will go a long way to reducing your stress level and help cheer you up.
Laughter is a powerful stress reliever. When you laugh, your body releases endorphins, which make you feel good. Laughing regularly helps to lower stress hormone levels as well as lowering blood pressure. It is great for heart health and even helps to improve your immune system function! Laughing as much as you can throughout the day will lower your stress levels, so find some great funny videos online, watch a funny movie or play some games with family and have a good laugh!
Turn off the news
Now more than ever there is plenty of world news that can increase stress. But for those people who watch the cable news channels regularly, stress can climb even higher. Unfortunately, news channels live for ratings, and negative news tends to get higher ratings than lighter, “feel good” stories. Because of this, most news channels, and even your local nightly news will have a negative focus…because that is what draws viewers. Watching the news regularly can increase fear, anxiety and stress! Saying no to too much news can reduce stress levels significantly.
Take a technology break
We are surrounded by technology 24/7, and because of that many people tend to be connected more often than is healthy. Heavy smartphone use has been linked to sleep disorders and depression. Mental health issues are higher in those who are constantly accessible via their cell phones. It is important to take a regular break from technology to reduce stress.
Do a self-assessment about how often you are connected to your smart phone, laptop, tablet, television or other technology. Ask yourself how often you scroll through social media or check emails or text messages. See how often you spend time binge watching TV shows. Move away from the screens and do something else for a while. If you use your phone for work, set boundaries about the hours you will check for work-related emails and social media. If possible, find time throughout the day to take short breaks from technology to help reduce stress. Once or twice a month, spend a full day or two away from technology. Read a book or even color. These activities get you away from the over-stimulation of technology and give your brain a break from all of the external input.
Get regular exercise
Getting exercise and moving your body regularly is a great way to not only help you to physically be healthier but to reduce stress as well. Exercising releases endorphins in the brain which help you to feel good. But it also lowers levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Getting regular exercise, closer to the AM if possible, may help you to sleep better as well, which can reduce stress even further. Exercise doesn’t always have to mean going to a studio or a gym. There are plenty of at-home exercises you can do as well – like yoga. Even a 10-minute walk can help to lower stress levels, but getting exercise for at least 30 minutes, five times a week is optimal.
Listening to soothing music
Music strongly connects to our emotions. Certainly, you have experienced music that plays in the background of a movie during pivotal scenes? The movie studios do that because they know that having such music supports the action onscreen and taps into the audience’s emotions, making the scene much more powerful. Knowing how powerful music is for driving moods can benefit you when it comes to stress relief. Turn on some relaxing, soft instrumental music. Ask “Alexa” to “Play some blues” or classical, jazz, new age — all can help to reduce stress. Music that is too loud can increase stress levels because the noise overstimulates the brain. But soft music can help to soothe and relax the brain.
Meditating has been practiced for thousands of years and is a simple way to reduce stress. When meditating, the combination of deep breathing and removing the brain from external stimulation can significantly reduce stress levels. It helps to wipe away information-overload that causes stress in the brain in as little as 10 minutes per day. One of the simplest ways to meditate is to find a quiet space, sit comfortably and simply focus on your breathing for 10 minutes. As thoughts go through your mind, acknowledge them and let them pass.
Get out in nature
Spending time out in nature is a great way to reduce stress levels. When you are outdoors, you get natural vitamin D from the sun. This vitamin helps the body to function more effectively and is vital for well-being. Being outside encourages you to get away from technology and unplug for a while. It reduces the amount of stimulation on the brain and allows it to recharge. Spending time in nature doesn’t always mean going camping for a weekend; even spending a few minutes on your patio or in your yard can help. These types of activities have been shown to lower cortisol, the stress hormone, and being in the fresh air has been shown to lower blood pressure.
Set healthy boundaries
Many people struggle to say “no” when others ask them to do things. Saying no or speaking up for ourselves can invoke feelings of guilt, so we often agree to do something, even if we are already overwhelmed. Learning to set healthy boundaries and learning to say no is not only be empowering, it can significantly reduce stress. Do you need to set boundaries with family or friends? What about with your job? Take a look at the things you agree to do, but don’t really want to do. Check in with yourself to see where you may be feeling resentful of people asking too much of you. Make the changes, set the boundaries you need to set so that you feel less stressed!
Get plenty of rest
Most adults need at approximately 7-8 hours of sleep a night to fully recharge their batteries and function optimally during the day. When you sacrifice sleep to get more done in the day, you may be increasing stress. If you get too little sleep, you may find yourself feeling irritable, overwhelmed and lack motivation to get things done. You may also eat more sugar, caffeine and highly processed carbs and be tempted to skip exercise…all things which can increase stress on the body. So, make sleep a priority to reduce stress.
It is vital for your health that you put more importance on managing stress. You must make time for stress relief in order to be healthy. When you do, it not only benefits your health, but you will get more done each day, and you will feel better too!
These are some ways you can help reduce the negative effects of stress as an individual, and as a health coach, it is imperative to pass them along to your clients.
Although it is important to educate your clients on the techniques above, the best way to ensure your clients’ success is to also identify and eliminate any hidden stressors!
In the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Health Coach Certification Course you will learn about the H.I.D.D.E.N. (Hormone, Immune, Digestion, Detoxification, Energy Production and Nervous Systems) stressors and dysfunctions of the body. As part of the training you will get access to the right lab tests and resources to detect these stressors, identify healing opportunities and help your clients achieve their health goals.