Updated: Apr 29
Stress is a killer! So if there are some simple tools shown to reduce cortisol levels and alleviate stress and anxious feelings you'd want to know about it, right? Well, check out these 6 stress busting tools:
1. Emotional freedom technique (EFT)
EFT is also known as "Tapping" due to the technique requiring tapping to 8 acupressure (or meridian) points on the face and upper body, while verbalizing a series of statements.
It can look a little silly, at least at first, but its efficacy is backed by science and extends across a wide range of sample populations. Benefits have been noted in college students (1), veterans, (2, 3) pain patients, (4, 5) overweight individuals, (6, 7) hospital patients, (8, 9) athletes, (10, 11) health care workers, (12) gifted students, (13) chemotherapy patients, (14) and phobia sufferers. (15, 16)
"When measured against the standards of the American Psychological Association’s Division 12 Task Force on Empirically Validated Treatments, EFT is found to be an “evidence-based” practice for anxiety, depression, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)."(17,18)
Access to this technique is easily found through a google search or jumping on You Tube, making it one of the best FREE emotional support resources available.
I'd have to recommend the videos by Brad Yates. He has over 135,000 followers on you tube and a large selection of videos covering a range of emotional concerns and subconscious beliefs. He even has an app! From anxiety to low self worth to changing your money mindset, there is a video for you.
Like most things, repetition is required to truly see results. I've heard some amazing stories from those who make it part of their daily routine. Just 10 minutes of tapping per day could make all the difference to your emotional well-being. What have you got to lose?
2. Cold water gargle to improve vagal parasympathetic tone
Have you ever noticed what happens when you're stressed and anxious? The muscles in your chest tighten and your breathing becomes faster, but also harder. Your heart speeds up, trying to pump oxygen around the body and ready your muscles for action.
This is called the "fight or flight" response and is the role of the sympathetic nervous system.
This response was designed to protect your body in an emergency by preparing you to react quickly. However your body can't distinguish the difference between running from a tiger or an emotional upset due to an argument or worry about unpaid bills. Unfortunately most of us spend our lives running from that tiger!
The opposite of the "fight or flight" nervous system is the "rest and digest" parasympathetic nervous system. An important part of that calming system is the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve comes from the brain to supply parasympathetic nerve fibres to a large number of organs in the body, including the heart, lungs and parts of the digestive tract. It slows your heart rate, calms your breathing and enables you to adequately digest your food.
A balance of sympathetic and parasympathetic tone is needed for healthy body responses. An indicator of poor vagal parasympathetic tone is decreased heart rate variability (HRV). Decreased HRV is associated with a wide range of ill health conditions including a higher risk of early death! (19)
Because the vagus nerve is connected to your vocal cords and the muscles at the back of your throat, gargling can help improve vagal tone.
Simply grab a glass of cold water and gargle for the duration of 3 breaths. Repeat 3 times a day. As a reminder, pop a sticky note by your tooth brush and one on the fridge door. Once you get better at remembering you should try to gargle every time you have a cold drink!
3. Lavender essential oil
When under stress your adrenal glands pump out a stress hormone called cortisol.
Cortisol is actually a highly beneficial hormone, involved in blood pressure and metabolism regulation, and with anti-inflammatory effects. However excessive levels over an extended period can deplete the immune system, drive blood sugar i