STRESS: Webster's definition
- a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc.
- something that causes strong feelings of worry or anxiety
- physical force or pressure
We've been warned of the negative effects of stress for awhile now.
On your mental state, your blood pressure, your heart health.
And now we can add to that list your digestive health.
To show how important I think a healthy gut is I will turn to a quote by the one and only Hippocrates: "All diseases begin in the gut". Short but to the point! And we're finally learning just how true that statement is.
And boy does stress effect the gut. Chronic stress can interfere with your nutrient absorption, decrease blood flow to your gut which ultimately decreases your metabolism, decrease oxygen flow to your gut, cause negative effects on the microflora, and it can decrease the amount of enzymes produced (in basic terms enzymes help break down the food).
And the list goes on.
Now I don't want you to start stressing about your stress! But it may be good to try a couple practices to help ease your stress.
One of my favorite exercises was created by Dr. Andrew Weil. It is called the 4-7-8 or Relaxing Breath Exercise. Here's how to do this exercise:
- To get ready: sit up straight, put your tongue on the roof of your mouth
- Exhale completely through your mouth
- Inhale through your nose for 4 counts
- Hold your breath for 7 counts
- And exhale loudly through your mouth for 8 counts
- Repeat this cycly 3 more times
Meditation has shown to have profound effects on both mental and physical health, as well as reduce stress.
If you think you are too busy to meditate, you'll be surprised to know that many of the top executives practice meditation, including Bill Ford of Ford Motors, Rupert Murdoch of News Corp, Russell Simmons, and of course Oprah Winfrey.
It may seem counter-intuitive; if I don't have enough time to finish the things on my list, then how do I have enough time to meditate? But meditation has been found to increase productivity, focus, creative thinking and cognitive functioning. That's not to mention decrease stress and improve digestive health!
Give it a try.
If you aren't familar with this practice, I recommend starting out simply with just 2-5 minutes. Sit in a chair and clothes your eyes.
Now pay attention to your body starting with your toes. What do you feel? Are they warm, cold, sore, itchy, dry? Then make your way up through your feet, legs, hips, stomach, back, shoulders, arms, neck, all the way up to your head.
Then slowly open your eyes.
Congratulations, you just meditated!
You can add some essential oils to enhance your experience. Check out my recommendations here!
Now, don't wash your hair, don't shower and definitely no shaving please! Just kidding, carry on with normal life. You don't have to become a buddhist monk or a hippie to continue this practice!