10 Ways to Help Your Physical Body Recover from Stress
In the last blog post we talked about how the stress response creates a surge of adrenaline that can leave your body feeling weathered in many ways….
Slow digestion or bloating
Brain fog or trouble focusing
Feeling fluy or getting sick
Compromised skin, rashes, dryness
and many more….
Depending on the degree of stress that you experience and how often, you might feel these symptoms to various degrees. Your symptoms might last for a day, or even for a few weeks depending on the intensity and longevity of the fight or flight response in your body.
But here’s the GOOD news….
There are ways to help support your body THROUGH and AFTER stress so that it can return to homeostasis with more ease. I’ve spent a lot of time researching this topic and have tried A LOT of things to reduce symptoms when my dysautonomia leaves my body in a “raw” state post-stress. So I’m sharing this list because I’ve personally found these things to be significantly helpful (and hopefully to save you some trial and error!) Many are nutrient related because the energy we put into our body has a huge effect on how it functions. Every body is different, so use this as a guide to help you find what works best for you!
10 Ways to Help Your Physical Body Recover from Stress
1. Boost your immune system by increasing antioxidants.
The acidity created by stress lowers your immune system, so boosting your antioxidant intake is important. My favorite sources are dark chocolate, blueberries, spinach, pineapple, and papaya!
2. Activate and protect the mucosa lining of your stomach.
As your adrenaline rises, the increase in acidity can create a burning or “raw” sensation in your stomach, sometimes even resulting in ulcers. This particular symptom has been my bodies “go-to,” so I’ve tried quite a few remedies. The ones I’ve found most effective are:
- L-Glutamine to strengthen the stomach and intestinal walls.
- Licorice tea to increase the mucosa production of the GI. This creates a barrier protecting your stomach from elevated acids.
- Raw coconut meat and coconut water (look for ones without added sugar and citric acid) to balance the stomach pH and also increase the mucosa lining.
3. Decrease sensory stressors to guide your body back into more ease.
When a child is screaming, the last thing it needs is more stimulation. It’s the same for your nervous system. Think about what sights, sounds, tastes, textures, and smells make you feel calm. Put on nature music, light a candle, take a walk outside, turn down bright lights, put soft clothes on your body, whatever feels good! These simple things can make a huge difference to signal rest to your body.
4. Support your digestion by eating gentle fibers.
Stress compromises digestion, so eating vegetables, fruit, grains, and other plants is helpful because it increases fiber to support motility. I say “gentle fibers” because I don’t recommend gnawing on a head of kale, as too much roughage can be hard on a compromised system.
5. Support detoxification by avoiding harmful chemicals.
Stress impairs detoxification and therefore it’s helpful to reduce the toxic load that your body has to filter. Chemicals, preservatives, additives, and carcinogens can be found in many cleaning products, fragrances, makeup, body products, and highly processed foods. By using safer products, your body can put its energy towards important life processes, instead of sending out troops to figure out what to do with the Phthalates, Butylated Hydroxyanisole, and yellow 3 food coloring. (You can check out some of my product recommendations here!)
6. Support you microbiome by keeping your diet diverse.
Stress impairs the growth of good bacteria in your stomach, so it’s important to be eating in a way that feeds those good bacteria. According to gastroenterologist Dr. Will Bulsiewicz, the number one indicator of gut health is the diversity of plants that you eat. While it can be tempting to go on strict elimination diets or only consume mashed potatoes and toast in times of discomfort, keeping your diet diverse is important! My go-to meal for keeping those healthy bacteria growing is the Nourish Bowl.
7. Support nerve function with supplements when applicable.
I’m not big on supplements because I’ve tried a lot and often find the side effects to outweigh the benefits, even for the “natural” ones. However, I have found Gaba and Lion’s Mane to be significantly helpful in regards to recovering from stress. Definitely talk to your doctor if you think they might be helpful for you too, because EVERY body is different and side effects can occur.
—Gaba is naturally found in your central nervous system but if you don’t produce enough of it, it may increase feelings of stress or anxiety.
—Lion’s Mane is a mushroom that is helpful for repairing nerve damage, reducing anxiety, and supporting gut health.
8. Support the brain by increasing healthy fats.
Stress has been shown to turn off parts of the brain, impairing mental function and causing brain fog. The brain is about 60% fat, so it’s critical to consume healthy fats to support its function, especially when you’re in a compromised state. Brain fog = stock up on avocado, nuts, nut butter, seeds, etc!
9. Support your body’s energy at the beginning of each day.
In order for your body to return to homeostasis, it needs sufficient energy through the day. Your first meal is especially critical because it sets your body up for success, so pack it full of nutrients with something like a smoothie full of fruit, greens, and healthy fats, or a bowl of oats with nut butter and hemp seeds. In times of high stress, it can be helpful to eat smaller meals 6-7 times a day, rather than having to digest 3 large meals. Your body needs a constant stream of energy to know it’s safe and can return to a calmer state.
10. Practice gratitude, reassurance, permission, and acceptance.
I’ll talk more about the mind-body connection in another post, but I don’t want to leave without reminding you that your physical body responds to your thoughts. Here’s one mantra I use daily to remind my nervous system that it can be at rest: “Thank you for protecting me body, you are safe, you can let go, and however this goes, you’re going to be ok.”
No need to start with all 10 of these ideas, just implement one or two that resonate with you, and give yourself lots of grace and patience. Your body is on your team, and together, you’re doing a really good job.
Have you experienced taxing physical symptoms during or after a stress response? What has been helpful for you in recovering from them? Let us know in the comments below!
***The above information is based on my research, education, and personal experience and is not to be used as a medical diagnosis. You should always consult your doctor and find what works best for your unique body.