Stress is your body’s response to change, whether it’s a positive or negative change. An upcoming wedding, losing your job, a new addition to the family, buying a new home…all of these things create stress, triggering our body to a “fight or flight” response.

Our natural fight or flight reactions are induced by two different types of stress — eustress and distress. Eustress is a positive pushes us to take charge and meet our goals or finish that 5k race. Eustress gives us courage. In this instance, stress is healthy because it comes with a built-in release when you meet your goals that tells your body to stop producing cortisol and relax. Distress is driven by fear or anxiety and is categorized as “bad stress” for one very important reason…there’s no release point. At no point when you’re in distress do you receive the satisfaction of meeting your goals. Instead, your body continues to produce cortisol, creating a buildup of this powerful hormone that causes our fight or flight reaction to backfire. This causes anxiety, depression, fear and even weight cain. Sounds miserable, right? When you’re experiencing distress, try one of these 6 proven ways to relax and unwind:

1. Peel Off Stress…And Pounds…With Pilates This 4-minute pilates routine releases endorphins. Endorphins are the “feel good” chemical that block pain. They also give you this fantastic, ready to take on the world, euphoric feeling. But it’s more than just that…studies have shown in many cases that the release of endorphins during exercise has an equal (if not better) effect than anti-depressants. 

2. Shoot For Sixes I’m a firm believer that we all need to lower our expectations. You can’t always score tens in life nor expect those around you to be perfect either.

3. Walk With A Friend Research shows that confiding in a trusted friend about problems is one of the best ways to lower stress. Combine girl time with the endorphins that are released when you’re exercising, and consider stress a goner!

4. Manage The Sugar Maniac! Stress can have you running for a chocolate chip cookie. But not so fast…sugar can do more harm than good, and actually cause you to feel more stressed. When sugar enters the bloodstream, insulin levels spike, to help manage the sugar load. And when our blood sugar levels rise or fall too dramatically or too frequently over the course of the day, we’re suddenly stuck in a vicious cycle. Our energy levels are quickly depleted, we become prone to fuzzy thinking, and we start to crave sugary foods.

5. O-Yes! When’s the perfect time for sex? Anytime 🙂 But when you’re stressed out, an orgasm might just be the perfect trick to lift your spirits. Having an orgasm produces oxytocin, a hormone produced in the brain that releases feelings of relaxation. Plus, research shows that women are less anxious and less fearful after an orgasm. 

6. Reach For A BLT There’s no better way to get out of a anxiety attack than to practice deep breathing techniques. Try what I call the “BLT,” Breathing Listening Technique, and it’s just as simple as it sounds.

• Get comfortable in your chair.
• Make sure your shoulders are relaxed, down and back, and that your chest is nice and open.
• Take a nice, steady inhale on a count of 6.
• When you reach the top, try and hold it there for a count of 6.
• And while you’re holding your breath, listen. Try and identify any sounds around you, however distant or faint they may be: An air conditioner rumbling…A dog barking down the street…A car driving down the street…Or maybe just the soft song of a bird nearby. Whatever it is, be specific and mentally pinpoint the source of each sound.And then, slowly, exhale on another count of 6.Repeat this cycle 4-5 times.The wonderful thing about this exercise is that it forces you to be in the moment. When your sole focus is inhaling, listening, and exhaling, it stops the incessant chatter that we all have in our minds. Try it now, and experience peace of mind!

Here’s to your health!