Tami Meraglia, MD, known as “Dr. Tami” to her patients and fans, is double board certified in integrative and natural medicine and aesthetic medicine. She is the medical director of the Vitality Medical Clinic in Seattle, Washington, and on the advisory board of Douglas Labs. She is the author of The Hormone Secret: Discover Effortless Weight Loss and Renewed Energy in Just 30 Days, out now from sister company Simon & Schuster and available wherever books are sold.Many of us have heard that we should “reduce our stress,” but the truth is that stress is part of our 21st century lives. The great news is that reducing stress is as simple as brushing our teeth: food, like stress, is in our daily life and gets all over our teeth in the same way the inflammation from the stress hormone cortisol spreads over our cells. The solution is not to stop eating, but to brush and floss to prevent the decay and deterioration of our teeth and gums. We need to “brush and floss” our cells and clean the inflammation caused by stress in the same way. Exercise has been shown to be an amazing way to decrease and erase stress.
Exercise releases endorphins, our bodies feel-good neurotransmitters, and helps us move beyond the day’s aggravations through repeated motions. By concentrating on the body’s rhythm and beat, you experience many of the same benefits of meditation.
Our bodies and the movements and positions we put them in have been shown to have a profound effect on hormones, including stress hormones. The hormones testosterone and cortisol have been proven to have the closest correlation with stress and stress management. Testosterone is the confidence hormone and cortisol is the reactive stress hormone. To best deal with stress you want to have your testosterone levels at their natural highest and cortisol levels low.
Here are five exercises that will help you balance stress and your hormones:
Standing For Two Minutes In The “Wonder Woman Pose”A Harvard study demonstrated that your levels of cortisol decrease by 25% and levels of testosterone increase by 20% just by standing in a confident pose for two minutes. This is something you can do before a stressful meeting or exam, before an interview, or even on a daily basis to always perform your best.
WalkingSometimes our exercise can be a stress all on its own. Walking is a low impact exercise, and when done outside it has been shown to increase your natural human growth hormone levels and decrease stress.
YogaMany types of yoga have built in breathing and stretching exercises that help our muscles release tension in our bodies. The philosophy of honoring where your body is in the moment prevents additional stress caused by straining and overworking.
DancingYou can dance in your living room, go out dancing, or take a class. Moving your body to music is very beneficial for stress reduction. The focus is on the music and the movement, and leaving little mental space for anything else.
BreathingIntentional breathing exercises are a powerful stress reduction tool. Breathing deeply stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which is in charge of rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Try this: breathe in through your nose for four counts, hold your breath for seven counts, and exhale through your mouth for eight counts. Take three of these breaths before each meal and before going to bed. You will be amazed at the change in how you feel.
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