The science of stress is more complex than ever before. New studies shed light on the fact that while emotional stressors are definitely part of the equation, “stress” must be viewed holistically in order to attain true well-being.
Lack of sleep, the gut-mood connection, daily exposure to toxins, and even our stress mindsets are all components that tax our body, putting our health, longevity, and mental wellness at risk.
The good news is, there are easy to implement techniques to hack your body’s biology in order to feel your best. Here are a few of our favorite biohacks for stress free living.
5 Science-Backed Biohacks For Managing Stress
Deep and rhythmic breathing helps you calm your thoughts, slow your heart rate, and regulate your autonomic nervous system. The Neurohacker team believes in the power of breathwork so much that we devoted an entire month to breathwork strategies to help you harness the power of your breath.
One approach is to slow your breathing pace to 6 breaths a minute for a few minutes anytime you feel stressed. This means breathing in for 5 seconds and breathing out for 5 seconds for about 5 minutes. This is called "Paced Breathing." A variation that also includes holding the breath between inhalations and exhalations is box breathing. Learn more, here.
Adaptogens are plants that help us adapt to and recover from stress. Taking an adaptogen might give you the extra strength and stamina needed to deal with the stress better and avoid getting sick or run down. Excellent adaptogens include ashwagandha, Black Ginger, Golden Root or Rhodiola, and Southern Ginseng.
Qualia Mind and Qualia Life both include adaptogens and other nutrients that support healthier stress responses. Add one or both to your daily routine.
Studies show that positive emotions – such as awe and gratitude can have strong health benefits like reducing chronic inflammation and decreasing harmful levels of stress hormones.
An excellent way to cultivate a grateful spirit is to start each day by writing down three things we are grateful for. Not only are you combining the benefits of journaling with the active adoption of a more positive mindset, but you are also left with a vault of memories that can be reread to ground you when life feels overwhelming.
Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. It just takes a short burst of exercise — three minutes to be exact — to improve your mood, said Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University whose latest book is “The Joy of Movement.
Environmental sounds and background noise are an important piece of the stress puzzle. Relaxing music, like classical music, late Renaissance music, and smooth jazz can help with stress, as can nature sounds (e.g., rippling water, falling rain, forest sounds).
Looking for an easy way to incorporate the power of sound into your stress management routine? The Calm app uses both sounds and guided meditations scientifically designed to help you build the strength needed to face life's ups and downs.
Books to Help You Shift Your Stress Mindset
The research on stress mindsets shows that viewing stress as a helpful part of life, rather than as harmful, is associated with better health, emotional well-being and productivity at work – even during periods of high stress. If you’re looking to shift you stress mindset check out these two great neurohacking reads:
- Unbeatable Mind. Collective Insights podcast guest Mark Divine is an expert in the field of mental toughness. His book, Unbeatable Mind, helps you strengthen your thinking and mental-state with self-development with tools and techniques not easily found anywhere else. Achieve your maximum potential in any career, business or just in life through Mark’s integrated plan of warrior development.
- The Upside Of Stress. Kelly shows readers how to cultivate a mindset that embraces stress, and activate the brain's natural ability to learn from challenging experiences. Both practical and life-changing, The Upside of Stress is not a guide to getting rid of stress, but a toolkit for getting better at it—by understanding, accepting, and leveraging it to your advantage.
A Game-changing Discussion: The Neuroscience of Stress - Strategies to Relax The Mind
We experience a stress response when we feel a threat, whether the threat is real or perceived. Teaching our bodies to respond appropriately to stressors is key in maintaining wellness. Recently, Dr. David Rabin joined us to discuss forward-thinking approaches to train the mind to turn on the parasympathetic nervous system and relieve chronic stress.
One of the single biggest sources of anxiety in all of our lives is simply trying to control things that we have no control over. -Dr. David Rabin
We discussed everything from training heart rate variability for increased resilience to the role of psychedelic assisted therapy. Listen in now.
Stress management is an important part of an optimized life (both mentally and physically), and finding a way to harness the potential benefits of stress can be a strategy for stress management in and of itself. Do you have a favorite stress management biohack? Tell us about it in the comments below!