Dr. Ann’s Favorite Tips on Stress Relief
Stress is bad to the belly. Here are some tips to help you stay cool and trim.
- Make sure you move! Regular physical activity is arguably the most powerful means to lower your stress level. Commit to walking briskly or some other form of aerobic activity for 30 minutes or more daily (the more the better). Physical activity relieves stress, lifts mood, dissipates anxiety, and improves sleep. The “cross pattern” repetitive movement of walking has been shown to have a unique calming effect on the brain. Aerobic exercise can also mitigate or counter all four of the fat-promoting effects of high cortisol! For best results, do your moving in a natural, outdoors setting (the beach, a park, etc). “Green” exercise has been shown to be particularly effective for boosting mental well-being. Additionally, simply gazing out in natural settings has been shown to provide immediate stress reduction. This interesting psychological phenomenon has been dubbed “biophilia.”
- Get in a good laugh. Rent your favorite comedy movies or reruns of funny sitcoms. Watch some funny YouTube videos with friends or family. Laughing is fun and lowers levels of stress hormones. If you can’t laugh, at least put a smile on your face. Smiling instantly induces relaxation.
- Sip on some hot, freshly brewed tea. This relaxing and healthy ritual has been shown to help lower stress hormones in the body.
- Listen to music with a slow or meditative tempo. This can facilitate relaxation.
- Get hot! Throw some hot spices (chili pepper) or condiments into your foods. Hot foods stimulate the pain receptors in the mouth, which triggers the release of endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s “natural” morphine-like chemicals that promote feelings of euphoria and enhanced well-being.
- Get a foot massage or better yet, a whole body massage. They feel great, help you relax, and improve blood flow.
- Twice a day (or when you feel anxious or stressed), take a two to three-minute break from life and calm yourself by deep breathing as follows:
• Exhale slowly and completely through your mouth.
• Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose to a count of five with your mouth closed.
• Hold your breath to a count of five.
• Exhale slowly through your mouth to a count of seven.
• Repeat for a total of four or more breaths.
8. Take up a regular yoga practice. Yoga is great for the body, mind, and soul.
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