3 Activities to Mitigate Stress with Dr. Stephanie Estima
"Walking is honestly one of the best things you can do for your brain."
Dr. Stephanie Estima
How do you handle stress better?
Many of us are aware of the harmful effects of chronic stress and the human brain, but today we are going to discuss strategies on how to mitigate that stress.
Here to shed light on the topic is one of my closest brainy friends and most popular guests, Dr. Stephanie Estima. Stephanie is an author, podcast host of Better! With Dr. Stephanie, and a chiropractor with a special interest in functional neurology and brain metabolism.
Take note as Stephanie enlightens us on the difference between good and bad stress as well as three simple and free activities that will increase blood flow, improve emotional regulation, and lower your stress response!
CHRONIC STRESS IN FEMALES
- Many people are reporting higher levels of stress and are facing mental and physical challenges including but not limited to brain fog, memory challenges, and for women, changes in menstrual cycles.
- There are two kinds of stress. Hormesis or hormetic stress is caused by things like fasting or exercise. Considered good stress, in the short term they cause quite a bit of inflammation, but in the long term, they impart incredible benefits to longevity, cellular grit, and metabolism. Distress or bad stress is associated more with mental health challenges caused by circumstances like many of us are facing during the pandemic, for example.
- When females are under chronic distress or low-grade stress and inflammation, it can begin to affect their menstrual cycles.
- Cortisol has negative effects on a woman’s production and metabolism of her sex hormones including testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone.
- As a woman goes through her hormonal ebbs and flows each month, she requires each hormone at different concentrations at different times. Cortisol does not allow the hormones to do what they are designed to do in order to have a normal cycle.
DESSERTS IS STRESSED SPELLED BACKWARDS
- Women can potentially turn to foods that will amp up their serotonin synthesis as a way to self-soothe in an attempt to drive happiness and quell stress.
- Check out our past episode with Dr. Stephanie where we go more in-depth, here.
- Women produce 52% less serotonin than men. Serotonin is involved in happiness and referred to as the antidote to depression, which could be why women suffer from depression at higher rates than their male counterparts.
- Females tend to turn to carbohydrates to get a quick hit of serotonin.
- Women must be mindful that they have different stress responses than men. (There is nothing wrong with you.)
- Having desserts may feel good in the interim but over the long term, it can affect your insulin and glucose tolerance levels, along with metabolism and body composition.
- Find out more about these common behaviors in women and how to feel good in your body in Dr. Stephanie’s book, The Betty Body.
3 ACTIVITIES TO MITIGATE STRESS (for men or women)
- There are many activities that are easy, free, and available to most people. Remember that no matter where you are on your journey it’s important to master the foundational basics before getting too complex.
- It’s the small, measured activities that we do all the time that over the course of time creates huge momentum and results.
- 1. NEAT: Non-exercise activity thermogenesis.
- A low-level activity like walking or gardening, or anything that is more generalized movement.
- Walking is one of the best things you can do for your brain. It’s great for your corpus callosum and the neural networks that cross the left and right hemispheres.
- Consider these simple activities “movement snacks”, a term coined by Ben Greenfield.
- Instead of going to the refrigerator for a snack every couple of hours, you can go for a five or ten-minute movement snack.
- Movement snacks help to increase the blood flow to your motor cortex in the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe helps plan for the future and is responsible for executive decision making and focus.
- Taking movement snacks helps the frontal lobe to inhibit lower brain systems like the amygdala and the limbic system which helps with emotional regulation.
- 2. Cold Therapy.
- This helps increase your energy and start bringing down your stress response.
- When you go into the cold, you stress your system to create more mitochondria, which are the cells that create energy and signals our bodies when we are safe or not safe.
- Women have the most mitochondria in their ovaries. There are about 100k mitochondria in a cell per ovary in comparison to the brain, for example, that has about 15k.
- Mitochondria in the brain are necessary to sense the environment and make sure we are safe.
- If you don’t live somewhere cold, you can make your shower cold.
- 3. Breathwork.
- Nasal breathing (mouth closed), inhaling, and exhaling stimulates your vagus nerve.
- When you activate the vagus nerve through nostril breathing, you can bring yourself away from a sympathetic stress response and into a parasympathetic response.
- What is one thing you are going to do to better cope and deal with stress?
SHARE WITH US
- Take a screenshot of this episode, tag us on social media (@Dr.Stephanie.Estima & @JimKwik), and share your greatest “aha!” moment from this episode with us.
- Check out Dr. Stephanie’s podcast, here.
- Get The Betty Body, here.
Related Kwik Brain Episodes You Might Enjoy
Episode 206: Stress Minimizing Technique with Emily Fletcher
Episode 132: How to Overcome & Relieve Pressure with Jay Shetty
Episode 093: Decoding the Female Brain with Dr. Stephanie Estima
Episode 073: Steps to Getting a Shredded Mind with Dr. Stephanie Estima