We live in a stressful world. Work, traffic, the news, toxic emotions, a polluted environment, and the standard American diet………that’s a lot of stress on the body. All of this chronic stress causes chronic inflammation in the body and in the brain.
A study done by the National Institute of Health showed that major life stressors, especially those involving a significant personal stress or social rejection, are among the strongest risk factors for depression. This is due to a massive release of pro-inflammatory cytokines in response to these stresses, which then activate the immune system and inflammation pathways in the body.
You can check out the article here: view the study
Even just 20 minutes a day, is an effective way to reduce chronic inflammation caused by stress. Exercise also provides mood boosting and other physical health benefits. So regular exercise is a win-win. Keep in mind that excessive exercise can produce inflammation, so there is a fine balance you need to strike when it comes to exercise, and moderation is key.
These are two are wonderful ways to help reduce stress. Most people are familiar with meditation and its benefits. So why isn’t everyone pulling out a mat and meditating every day? Many people struggle with meditation because they think that meditation means they need to quiet their mind. This is a huge myth! Meditation, by definition, is a way to transform your thoughts, not quiet them. Through meditation you gain perspective on what is happening in your mind and body, or mindfulness. Mindfulness is essentially being present to the current moment, what is happening in your body, what is around you, and not being overly reactive or overwhelmed by your environment. It helps you learn to not dwell on what happened yesterday or worry about what tomorrow brings. You don’t need special skills to meditate or be mindful, you just need practice. There are many smartphone apps that can help you with this. Our favorites are Headspace and Insight Timer (which has thousands of free guided meditations from the leading experts in mindfulness).
This is another powerful tool to use regularly to help reduce stress and anxiety. Biofeedback breathing involves breathing from your diaphragm instead of your chest. Diaphragmatic breathing allows you to take deeper and slower breaths. This style of breathing actually acts to calm down the nervous system and can be very helpful for reducing anxiety and stress as well as improving sleep.
While all of these tools are helpful for reducing the negative effects of everyday stress, excessive stress is an obstacle to cure. Identifying and removing those obstacles, is one of the best things you can do in your path to healing. Without removing obstacles to cure you will never have sustainable long term results in any healing plan you undertake.