How to Reduce Stress, Naturally and Simply

Humans have always been stressed. It isn’t a new problem. But over time, stress has changed and increased to dangerous levels. At one point in our history, stress was running away from lions while having to hunt and forage for our next meal. Once the thread was gone and food was acquired, our stress decreased.

Nowadays, our stress is typically a lot less dangerous and a lot more chronic. Our bodies, somewhat surprisingly, haven’t evolved much from the caveman days. So the protection systems we have in place are outdated, and what was once very helpful for our survival is now quite unhealthy.

What Stress Does in Our Bodies

The stress we’re under these days – especially the chronic kind – is rarely, if ever, life threatening. Yet our body’s response to modern stress assumes we’re in a life or death situation.

Our sympathetic nervous system kicks in. Blood flow and energy are diverted to our muscles, away from our digestive tract (one of our primary detoxification pathways) and our brain. This helps us a great deal in certain situations – like when we have to run like hell from a lion. But when it doesn’t get turned off, its partner system, the parasympathetic nervous system, doesn’t get activated. And it’s our parasympathetic nervous system that is needed to rest and restore (and help our body’s detox).

When our bodies are in balance, we produce and use hormones to control our metabolism, neurological processes, reproduction, energy levels, sleep… the list goes on. But when we’re under chronic stress, our bodies have to metabolize the extra hormones created by the fight-or-flight stress mode. This puts more stress on our liver, the organ responsible for metabolizing hormones. Enter a cycle of hormone imbalance and a range of health effects.

The bottom line: Prolonged periods of stress prevent our bodies from detoxifying and restoring optimal health.

How Our Environment Adds to Our Stress

Most people think of stress like an overloaded inbox, family drama, or dealing with a jerk boss. But our environment is putting our bodies under even more stress. The air we breathe, water we drink and food we eat are increasingly contaminated with chemicals that our bodies have to eliminate. {This sucks, but is also one of the easiest things to control, so keep reading for simple and free strategies.}

And even though many of these are relatively easy for our bodies to deal with when given the chance (phthalates have a half life of just 6 hours), studies are finding that they are constantly present in a large percentage of the population.

Why?

Because we are exposed to too much, for too long. Our bodies can’t effectively detox because the toxics are coming in faster than they’re going out. This is partially because of the chemicals in the environment and partially because our bodies are too stressed to cope.

So a healthy lifestyle isn’t just about eating well, exercise, and getting a good night’s sleep. We also have to be mindful of overall stress – and try to reduce it as much as we can.

The goal of detoxing your home isn’t to eliminate toxic stress on your body. That’s just not possible/practical. But it is one simple yet effective strategy that will support your overall health.

Simple Ways to Reduce Stress in Your Home

Now, if you’re thinking “all of this information is making me stressed!”, put your feet on the floor, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Don’t get stressed tying to reduce stress. Here are a few ways you can start healthier habits, simply. Pick one room and start with whatever resonates with you:

In your bathroom maybe it’s switching out your PVC shower curtain or checking out your body care products on my Green vs Greenwashed Body Care List (download it here).

In your kitchen, you can stop heating food or putting hot food in plastic containers and replace your Teflon pans with healthier options.

In your bedroom, you can keep dust down to reduce hormone disrupting chemicals or get air purifying plants.

 

Where you start is up to you. The important part is just to start. And the ideas I shared above are all free (or nearly free!) and totally doable.

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