8 Simple Habits for Building A Healthier Stress Response
Stress can happen no matter how hard you try to avoid it. How you respond to that stress is up to you, though! And while it’s normal to feel the pressures of everyday stress, an unhealthy stress response can leave you feeling overwhelmed, tense, or anxious.
By adopting a few simple daily habits, you can learn how to change your stress response from a negative reaction to a positive response. But how does the stress response work and what specifically can you do to better manage it? Learn how the typical stress response works and check out eight daily habits to start so you can build a healthier stress response that works for you.
HOW DOES THE STRESS RESPONSE WORK?
A pounding heart, quick breaths, tense muscles, and beads of sweat: this is your body’s typical reaction to the flood of hormones triggered by your stress response. The stress response — also known as the fight or flight response — evolved as a way to help early humans fend off attacks or flee to safety.
When you sense danger, your brain activates your sympathetic nervous system, which signals the adrenal glands to flood your body with adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline raises your heart rate and blood pressure, dilates blood vessels to send more oxygen to your muscles and brain, and releases temporary stores of fat and glucose. Adrenaline gives you a survival advantage by sharpening your senses, increasing alertness, and energizing your body. Meanwhile, the cortisol acts as a secondary activation to help your body sustain this effort.
The fight or flight response happens lightning-fast, so you can quickly react to life-threatening situations. When the threat passes, your body pumps the brakes by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps calm you down and clear the bloodstream of adrenaline and cortisol.
HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO STRESSFUL SITUATIONS?
Though we typically aren't facing the same life-threatening situations our ancestors did, our stress response is still very active — and possibly even more sensitive. Low-level stressors like traffic jams, work presentations, family arguments, and even sleeping through your morning alarm can trigger your stress response. But how you choose to respond to stressful situations may change what all that stress is doing to your body.
Fight or flight is your body's typical response to stressful situations. Living with fight or flight as your default stress response may not give your body much of a chance to fully activate the parasympathetic nervous system — and subsequently help you calm down. As a result, stress hormones can linger in the bloodstream and prolong the physiological effects of the fight or flight response, which can leave you feeling high-strung and potentially lead to negative long-term effects.
Alternatively, managing your response to stressful situations can be as simple as adopting a few daily habits, like breathing exercises or taking a daily CBD softgel. After all, the best daily habits to have are the ones that are easy to do! Here are eight simple daily habits to help you start building your healthier stress response.
8 Daily Habits to Start Building a Healthier Stress Response
1. Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is one of the most effective ways to slow your heart rate and initiate the relaxation response. The relaxation response, a term coined by Harvard University’s Dr. Herbert Benson in the 1960s, counteracts the effects of the stress response.
The key to a daily breathing practice is to focus your awareness on slow, deep breaths from the diaphragm or abdominal region. This type of breathing helps activate your body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which is important to bringing your body into a more restful state.
Try deep breathing exercises in the morning, at night, or any time you sense you're in a stressful situation.
2. Add CBD to Your Routine
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a natural compound found in hemp plants that may promote relaxation and a calming effect by supporting your body's Endocannabinoid System. CBD products are an increasingly popular way to manage everyday stress — and the wide variety of product options makes it easy to choose what works best for you. No matter if you enjoy gummies, chocolate, sweet CBD oil, or just a quick softgel, adding CBD to your daily routine is a simple and easy way to help you manage everyday stress.
One Green Roads CBD customer, Patricia, uses a CBD Relax Bear in the morning as part of her daily routine. She wrote in a review, "I use [a CBD Relax Bear] every morning as part of my vitamin regiment and it helps me throughout the day working in a stressful hospital. Quick absorption. I feel results on an empty stomach after 30 minutes."
While the two often go hand-in-hand, meditation does not always involve deep breathing exercises. There are all kinds of different meditation techniques out there — and even a short five-minute session can help promote a better stress response.
One of the most popular meditation techniques that may help handle stress is Transcendental Meditation (TM), which uses mantras to help practitioners enter an alert yet deeply restful state of consciousness. However, you don’t have to limit yourself to just TM when dealing with stress. Experiment with different techniques and session durations to find the daily practice that’s right for you.
Building a healthier stress response isn’t all mental! Physical exercise is one of the most rewarding ways to manage stress and feel good about yourself. High-intensity cardio is a great way to flush excess cortisol from your system, but adding more movement to your daily routine doesn’t mean you have to join a spin class or start training for a marathon. A brisk walk to start your day or close out a stressful situation can go a long way toward reducing stress and building a healthier stress response.
5. Movement Therapy
Like exercise, movement therapies such as yoga, Tai Chi, or Qigong are a great way to help you manage your stress response. Along with physical health benefits, movement therapy can equip you with helpful stress-coping tips, such as controlling your breathing and stretching to release muscle tension. Between gentle exercise, deep breathing, and mindfulness, movement therapy can give you the tools needed to help control your fight or flight response in a stressful situation.
Journaling is a powerful way to promote a healthier stress response. It can help you slow your thoughts down and process emotions. Consistent daily journaling is ideal, but even jotting down your thoughts and feelings about a certain stressful situation can be a great way to cope with stress.
Journaling can promote mental clarity and self-exploration that help maintain a healthy stress response. Like meditation, there are a ton of different journaling techniques you can experiment with, such as gratitude journaling, free writing, visual journaling, and more.
7. Tap Into Your Social Safety Net
People in your support network such as friends, family, spouses, colleagues, and mentors can play a vital role in how you handle stress. Close relationships allow you to give and receive emotional support that helps keep you afloat in stressful situations.
Find someone in your life you can connect with regularly and call upon when things feel out of whack. No matter if they're there to give feedback and advice or to listen to you vent, a loved one can help you destress and avoid turning to more negative coping mechanisms — like harsh self-criticism, overeating and drinking, and self-isolation.
8. Spend Time Outside
The very act of being out in nature can support a healthier stress response. If you can, find somewhere you can rest or walk that’s away from busy streets, crowds, and noise. No matter if it's a park, trail, or countryside stroll, dedicating some time each day to being in nature is a great way to support a healthy stress response.
MANAGING YOUR STRESS STARTS WITH GREEN ROADS
It's no secret that stress can take a toll on your mind and body. But taking Green Roads CBD products like CBD Relax Bears or CBD oil in addition to a daily stress-management routine can help you manage everyday stress levels and train your body to have a healthier stress response.