It’s as if stress is a measure of the amount, and the caliber of work you do at your job or in life.
But as a men’s health professional who has coached thousands of men on how to beat stress, I’m here to tell you that stress is no joke.
Think I’m bluffing?
Read these three alarming facts about stress:
Fact #1: 44% of Americans feel more stressed than they did 5 years ago.
Fact #2: Stress shrinks the brain, damages kidneys, and causes 10% of all strokes.
Fact #3: Stress-related ailments cost the nation $300 billion every year in medical bills and lost productivity.
As you can see, stress isn’t just a feeling, and it’s NOT an accomplishment.
Stress negatively affects your body– from your brain to your kidneys to your weight.
This article will tell you about the 2 biggest dangers stress brings to your life and will give you instructions on how to beat stress.
Stress Danger #1: Chronically Elevated Cortisol
First off, I want to clear up the misconception that cortisol is the “bad guy.”
Cortisol is a very important stress hormone that is needed for key biological functions such as waking up in the morning, breaking down stored carbohydrates for energy, and even burning fat.
But when we become stressed, our normal level of cortisol increases. And even worse, when we are stressed for a lengthy period of time, our cortisol levels become chronically elevated.
Chronically elevated cortisol leads to very serious health problems.
First, elevated cortisol causes your brain to produce less serotonin– a critical neurotransmitter that helps you feel calm and controls your appetite.
In addition, high levels of cortisol cause our bodies to rampantly store belly fat. And last but not least, stress contributes to high blood pressure.
It's not difficult to see how quickly this vicious cortisol cycle can spin out of control.
So, what the heck do we do about all this? Try these 3 battle-tested strategies.
Lower My Cortisol Tip #1: Take Vitamin C
Vitamin C is well known for building strong immune systems.
But did you know that Vitamin C is one of the body’s best natural stress fighters?
In fact, taking 1,000mg of Vitamin C before any stressful event dramatically reduces the body’s cortisol, anxiety, and blood pressure response.
The best part about using Vitamin C to fight stress is that it’s a water-soluble vitamin.
This means that you can’t overdose. Our bodies simply excrete any Vitamin C that it cannot use.
Pro Tip: Create a stress-fighting habit for yourself and add 1 tablet of 1000mg Vitamin C to your breakfast or lunch.
Lower My Cortisol Tip #2: Take An Adaptogen Supplement
Adapto-what? They sound strange, but adaptogens are herbal supplements that boost the body’s ability to resist stress and weight gain.
Rhodiola Rosea is the safest and most effective supplement that is proven to reduce stress and weight gain in multiple studies.
Rhodiola grows almost exclusively on mountainous peaks in the Rockies, Alps, and Pyrenees.
In order to survive those stressful weather conditions, Rhodiola has to be a pretty tough plant.
The stress-fighting compounds that help it survive are what helps our human bodies.
Pro Tip: Take Rhodiola as a supplement with a 200mg dose in both the morning and the afternoon. You can check out the brand I personally use on Amazon.com here.
Stress Danger #2: Impaired Sleep Quality
Sleep is the second most common contributor to stress.
In fact, over 30% of Americans are battling stress-related insomnia according to the CDC.
“Impaired sleep quality” occurs when we get less than 6 hours of sleep per night.
Lack of sleep doesn’t just make us groggy. There are dangerous metabolic changes that affect your body from even 3 days of impaired sleep.
First of all, our energy levels are shot, we struggle to focus, and our cognitive performance suffers.
Second of all, lack of sleep depletes our brain’s willpower reserves. We use our brain’s willpower to make good decisions.
Think about how many bad decisions you’ve made when sleep deprived— opting for take-out because you’re too tired to cook, skipping your son’s soccer game to take a nap instead.
On top of all of that, sleep deprivation also causes our metabolic rate to slow and impairs our blood sugar regulation.
Basically, this means our bodies are burning fewer calories and storing more as stubborn belly fat.
It’s a vicious cycle, but there are ways you can fight it.
Improve My Sleep Tip #1: Know Your Sleep Cycles
Our bodies operate like clockwork when it comes to sleep.
Circadian rhythms are what propel us to wake up and go to sleep. But when we let stress take charge of our schedules, these rhythms are disrupted.
In order to receive optimal sleep, we must choose a designated bedtime and waking time and commit to this pattern.
When choosing these patterns, we also have to keep in mind that sleeping occurs in a string of 90-minute cycles.
To wake up feeling refreshed, time your morning alarm to go off at the end of a 90-minute sleep cycle. This equates to about 7.5 hours of sleep each night.
Improve My Sleep Tip #2: Write Your Way to Sleep
You might be thinking—it’s not that hard to get INTO bed. What’s actually hard is falling asleep.
As our heads hit the pillow, our minds race. Especially when we're stressed. It seems like sleep is brief and tumultuous when the alarm sounds in the morning.
An overactive mind is one of the biggest challenges to a good night of sleep.
Between finances, family, work and health stressors, we all have a great deal to think about.
But there is an easy way to clear your mind before trying to fall asleep.
Journaling before you go to bed is an extremely powerful habit that can successfully quiet your mind and provide you inner peace.
You can write anything from to-do lists to reflections on the day.
Pro Tip: For 3 more top strategies to optimize regenerative sleep, read this blog.
Improve My Sleep Tip #3: Get Your Nightly Magnesium
In search of quality sleep, many people turn to sleep aids.
Over 56 million Americans currently use prescription sleep aids, in fact.
The truth of the matter is, prescription sleep aids have serious, document side effects—even cancer has been linked to sleep aid usage.
The worst part is, it’s not even worth it.
Sleep aids have shown to help people fall asleep only 13 minutes faster and sleep only 11 minutes longer.
Thankfully, there are natural solutions that work much better and are so much better for your body.
Magnesium is one of nature’s best sedatives. People with sleeping disorders commonly use it to aid their sleep.
Pro tip: Eat a Magnesium-rich snack before bed. Dark green leafy vegetables, almonds and cashews are all rich in Magnesium.
Now that you've read about the real, negative effects of stress, it's time to reflect on your own lives.
Understand what stresses you out in your life and create a plan to combat it.
With support from experts at the Fit Father Project, you can overcome any hurdle in your fitness life.
Enjoy! Your new friend & health coach,
Small note about research cited in this article:
*Always remember: weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual. Just because these studies cite certain data does not mean you will experience these results/outcomes. Always consult with your doctor before making decisions about your health. This is not medical advice – simply well-researched information. Thanks for reading!