Cortisol is a wonderfully helpful hormone that helps us through a “fight or flight” response. Cortisol also has a friend, glucose, who is willing to help so we have the needed “fuel” to respond. But see, cortisol and glucose don’t want to hang around in abundance needlessly. Our bodies don’t want them to overstay either. When they extend their “staycation” it causes penalties that can possibly be avoided.
These penalties can result in chronic diseases like hypertension and type 2 diabetes. They can present as weight gain, lack of energy, difficulty in sleeping as well as concentration. The immune system can get tired and make fighting infections more difficult. We sometimes think that such stress is normal, and we don’t check it out. We need to book other visitors that provide calmness and mindfulness. So, let’s explore ways to make your body and mind a wellness retreat even if the check-out time is chaotic.
1. Prepare and get a good night’s slumber. Create a calm bedtime ritual and environment. Take a cool shower, reduce the temperature in the bedroom, and reduce light- especially bright or blue lights. Which means turn off that TV and shut down electronic devices. Establish a consistent routine so to rest, rise, and shine are at the same time most days.
2. Move your body, preferably in the morning and embrace it. If you have a routine this can help reduce stress and cortisol. A personal trainer is a valuable resource especially when it is personal and one- to -one.
3. You know you the best, but you have to pay attention so you can respond and not react. This is important in our personal life as well in business. Remove those buttons that people push and do it one at a time. Plan a rescue and retreat that works for you. For example, if someone is having a bad day and is abusive, aggressive, or less than thoughtful – give them an out instead – put them on pause or de-escalate them without increasing stress on you. Go- ahead, be creative. Forgive and don’t regret.
4. Breathe, I mean really deep breathe. Look up breathing techniques to counter-act shallow breathing. Stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system which is known as the “rest and digest” system. Even 4-5 mindful deep breathes throughout the day is believed to reduce cortisol.
5. Eat well and nourish your body. Know what you are eating and learn more. Eat foods close to their natural source, limit sugar and alcohol. Stay hydrated- thirst is a sign of dehydration. Learn about the wonderful health benefits of culinary spices and herbs and cook with them! Too often we spend more time on researching major purchases than we do on what we eat and where we eat.
6. Be kind to yourself just as much if not more than you are to others. This is especially important. It is about being mindful. Kind of like putting on that oxygen mask first if you have to help others put theirs on. Set time aside for yourself even in 10 -15 minutes increments. I don’t mean rush to that massage or pedicure appointment that you never miss. (Which are wonderful). Set boundaries and laugh. Self-care is just that. Empower yourself, embrace kindness and mindfulness. Mediate, engage in grounding, enjoy nature, and nurture personal relationships.
Celebrate and appreciate who you are and what you bring to others!