Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Reduce the Stress

Six ways to kick your stress habit:

1.Cut down on the cardio.
If you still have time to hit the gym, focus on strength training instead.“Cortisol wears down your muscle tissues but strength training will build them back up again,” explains Natasha Turner, a Toronto-based naturopathic doctor and author of The Carb Sensitivity Program. Aim for 30 to 40 minutes of high- intensity circuit training —then stop. Exercising for longer periods may actually jack up those dreaded stress hormones.

2. Load up on vitamin C and omega-3s.
“Research shows vitamin C may help reduce feelings of stress. Your adrenal glands have some of the highest concentrations of vitamin C in your body,” says Turner. “And fish oils are essential if you’re under stress because they help protect your brain from the damaging effects of cortisol.”

3. Drink less coffee.
It may seem counterintuitive to skip your java on a stressful day, but too much caffeine will only make you more anxious, says Dr. Esther Konigsberg. “Try camomile tea instead — it’ll help calm your nervous system.”

4. Sleep naked (in a really dark room).
Reducing your body temperature and eliminating all sources of light enhances the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, says Turner. She also suggests hitting the sack as early as possible.

5. Download a meditation app.
Experts agree that meditation is one of the best stress-reduction strategies.“Even taking five minutes a day to clear your mind and focus on breathing is beneficial,” says Turner. Don’t know where to start? Try an app like Simply Being: Guided Meditation for Relaxation and Presence (iTunes, 99¢) and choose from guided meditations varying in length from five to 20 minutes.

6. Eat well — and often.
Skipping breakfast or waiting too long between meals can trigger cortisol production, says Turner. Eat a meal or snack with protein, carbs and healthy fat every three hours to stabilize blood sugar and prevent out-of-control snacking. Chronic stress may increase production of the hunger hormone ghrelin, which can lead to overeating.    

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