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Day 7: Science-Backed Ways To Beat The Stress Hormone In Your Body

Day 7: Science-Backed Ways To Beat The Stress Hormone In Your Body

So, have you tried to sleep with a weighted blanket to relieve your insomnia and stress? Please do so, it really is for the best of you!

I’m here to accompany you through this challenging journey!

Let’s look at what you SHOULD do this time.

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Why it is important to take care of the stress hormone

Cortisol, or as it is widely known the “stress hormone”, is a hormone produced by the adrenaline gland and it influences our immune responses, blood sugar levels, metabolism, and blood pressure as the part of the natural defense mechanism that gives us the energy to either fight or flight in stressful situations.

In today’s hectic world, we are dealing more with emotional stress rather than physical dangers, and our body can’t tell the difference so it tells cortisol to do its job. Before we manage to relax and lower cortisol levels, we find ourselves in yet another stressful situation and cortisol kicks in again, thus the cycle continues.

Having constantly high cortisol levels can deprive us of sleep, lead to chronic fatigue, weight gain, impair our natural ability to fight against diseases, and cause various digestive problems. According to these statistics, 77% of Americans regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress[1]. Luckily, there are simple techniques you can apply to reduce cortisol levels and feel better.

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1. Listening to soothing music reduces cortisol levels by 66%

Music can evoke positive emotions and brighten our day, and you can use it as a part of your stress-relief therapy. According to one study, exploring effects of instrumental music during a surgery procedure has been proven that music really helps in reducing cortisol levels during such stressful situations[2].

So, whenever you feel like you are going to hit the roof and stress out, play some music that relaxes you. Make your I’m-not-going-to-stress-out playlist and unwind. Find which music has the most soothing effect on you, preferably instrumental music, such as classical music or sounds of nature.

2. It’s tea time! Reduce cortisol by 47% with a cup of black tea

Having a cup of tea is not just a chance to take a break and gossip with your friends. Researchers from the University College London conducted an experiment on 75 volunteers where one group was given 4 cups of black tea every day, while the other group was drinking a placebo over a period of six weeks[3]. Both groups were exposed to stressful tasks, and while they recorded similar increase in cortisol levels, those who drank black tea had 47% lower cortisol levels 50 minutes after completing the tasks, while in the placebo group, cortisol dropped just 27%.

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Pick your favorite time of the day when you can be on your own, and make yourself a cup of black tea and enjoy the silence. Make this your daily habit.

3. Going to bed early or taking a nap reduces cortisol by 50%

The benefits of a good night’s sleep cannot be overstated – it goes a long way in improving the quality of your life. Moreover, it is vital to get enough hours of sleep – the study conducted by the Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Germany showed that the helicopter pilots who slept 6 instead of the recommended 8 hours, had an increase of 50-80% in cortisol levels[4].

Don’t stay up late browsing through funny YouTube clips and wake up tired and stressed out – organize your day so that you could get 8 hours of sleep. However, if for some reason you didn’t manage to get enough sleep, take a nap – it can bring your cortisol levels down as well[5].

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4. Fight stress with food

Incorporating omega-3 fatty acids helps you regulate cortisol levels[6], so include fish such as wild salmon, sardines or anchovies in your diet. In addition to fish, foods such as spinach, citrus fruits, and dark chocolate can help you fight the negative influence of cortisol.

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Wow! You’ve got your Phase 2 completed, it’s awesome you’ve made so far! Now you know how to sleep and how to control your stress to get a strong digestive system.

So what else you should do besides learning ways to control your stress? Ta-dah… it’s all about how to your brainpower!

Reference

More by this author

Ricky Tang

Editor. Movie Lover. Amateur Singer.

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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