At Home Remedies to Combat Stress

In the height of what seems like endless uncertainty and chaos, it is difficult to remember to prioritize mental health. When societal aspects of life change (such as embracing social distancing), it is critical to remain calm and relieve stress/anxiety whenever possible.

Simple, at home remedies to combat stress are important during this time. This can be done through exercise, meditation/mindfulness and spending time doing something you love.

Stress relief through exercise

Getting your body in motion is beneficial for you physically and mentally! According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), exercise has been found “effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function.”

The reason people tend to feel better after exercising is due to the body’s release of endorphins. These are chemicals in the brain, known as neurotransmitters.

Essentially, endorphins act as a naturally occurring form of painkillers. So, when you exercise, endorphins are released and feelings of stress, anxiety or other mental pains are decreased.

Any form of exercise “counts” and allows the release of endorphins! This can be done in fast-paced exercising such as long distance running. It can also occur in aerobic exercises such as yoga and stretching.

Mindfulness & meditation

In addition to yoga, or in lieu of exercising, practicing mindfulness has been linked to decreasing feelings of stress and anxiety. When you meditate or practice mindfulness, your body and mind tune out the energy that surrounds you.

By doing this, you can focus on your breathing and forget about the feelings of stress and anxiety. Clearing your mind allows you to be hyper-aware of what is going on mentally and physically.

According to the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center at the University of Washington, mindfulness includes the following elements:

  • Awareness
  • Focus
  • Acceptance
  • Observation

These elements, and mindfulness as a whole has been found to ease mental/psychological feelings of stress, anxiety and pain. As a result, mindfulness helps to improve mood and overall brain function.

Focus your energies elsewhere

Sometimes, taking a break is all you need. Spending your time doing things you love allows you to get your mind off of the stressors in your life.

Here are some things to do in your free time to take your mind off of what is causing you stress:

  • Read a book
  • Catch up on a new show
  • Get into the kitchen and try a new recipe
  • Pick up a new skill or craft
  • Start a blog or journal

In times of uncertainty and chaos, finding things to occupy your time with can be very helpful. Instead of channeling your energy into areas that cause more stress, spend your days focusing on the things you love.

One extremely important way to combat stress and anxiety is to talk to someone. Whether that be connecting with friends, family or a therapist.

Surrounding yourself with people who lift you up in difficult times is critical. We urge you to connect with others around you in times of need, because human connection and communication is important.

While this is not a comprehensive list of stress relieving tips, these are some of the most adopted techniques. As always, we recommend trying different things out and seeing what best fits your personal needs!

Does Exercise Really Make You Healthier?

While it might seem obvious that yes, exercise does correlate with a healthy life, many people work out and never see a certain result: weight loss. While shedding a few pounds is a completely normal motive for exercise, there are numerous, additional benefits going on in the body when you break a sweat that isn’t reflected on the scale.

We’ll examine the various health benefits of exercise below, and address how a certain diet also plays a key role in your health and wellbeing.


How Much Exercise Do I Need? The Guidelines

Before we jump into exercise health benefits, you might be wondering how much sweat-time is needed to know you’re doing your body some good. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released new Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which recommends that 18-64 year olds exercise moderately (think: brisk walking or water aerobics) for at least two hours and 30 minutes a week, or exercise vigorously (running, swimming, or  cycling) for at least an hour and 15 minutes weekly. When you think about it, this amount of movement isn’t that much; it comes out to either 20 minutes of moderate exercise or 10 minutes of vigorous exercise a day. Other experts say to aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily, but additional exercise is probably needed to meet more aggressive fitness goals. Finally, there’s another camp of experts who focus more on the intensity of the exercise than the length. For example, high-intensity intervals (like short sprints) can get your heart working and fat burning more quickly than if you were to go on a slow, long jog.

Based on the specific health goals you’re trying to meet, it’s best to talk with your doctor and/or a certified fitness trainer.


Exercise and Health: The Benefits

Here are some incredible benefits of exercise that indeed show how daily movement can promote a healthier you.


A Healthier Heart

Multiple studies throughout the last decade have proved that exercise can lower our risk of heart disease. This is especially true for aerobic exercise, since getting your heart rate pumping through jogging, biking, or swimming can help decrease your heart rate and blood pressure.

How exactly does a heart pumping workout help our heart? When someone is working out, the heart muscle continually contracts, which can help increase blood flow through the arteries and relax our blood vessels. This typically leads to a lowered resting heart rate and lower blood pressure, both of which will decrease the chance of developing cardiovascular disease. Meanwhile, movement and sweat can also block inflammation in the body to avoid arteries hardening around the heart, which causes heart attacks. Lastly, regular exercise can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase our HDL (good) cholesterol, which means less artery clogging and a lowered risk of heart problems. Researchers say that moderate exercise can reduce LDL cholesterol by up to 10 percent and increase HDL cholesterol levels by between 3 and 6 percent. Heart-warming wins all around!


Brain Booster

Who knew that exercise could make you smarter?! Recently, researchers discovered that exercise increases levels of specific molecules in the brain that are critical for cognition. A randomized clinical trial published in 2008 found that people 50 years and older with memory problems who were assigned to exercise programs scored 20 percent higher than their sedentary peers.They even maintained a 10 percent edge one year after the study was over! Meanwhile, studies in rats show that physical exercise boosts levels in the hippocampus, the part of our brain connected to learning and memory.


A Reduced Cancer Risk

Many recent studies discuss how exercise is connected to a reduced risk of multiple cancers, such as breast, colon, esophageal, liver, stomach, kidney, leukemia, blood, rectum, bladder, and lung cancer. Yet, while we’ve seen that exercise can lead to a healthier heart, scientists have only found a connection between exercise and a decreased risk of cancer.

There are multiple, solid theories for the connection; physical activity helps lower cancer risk by helping to control weight and reduce insulin levels. Both of these factors are connected, too — people who are overweight or obese tend to have higher circulating levels of insulin, which has been linked to a handful of cancers due to its role in creating new tumors or making current tumors grow.

Lastly, multiple studies show that working out could also reduce the risk of cancer by boosting the body’s immune system.


Weight Loss

As mentioned in the beginning of this article, the relationship between exercise and weight loss is a tricky one. Contrary to popular belief, working out at the gym every day will not necessarily lead to weight loss, since people can easily make up for the calories lost by spending too much time in front of the fridge. In other words, exercise alone will unlikely lead to the instant results most people want. (If you’re really focused on losing a healthy amount of weight, caloric intake over burning calories through exercise is way more effective). Interestingly, some studies reveal that exercising could help us crave healthier and unprocessed foods versus the ones processed with salts and loaded with sugars. All in all, a regular exercise routine coupled with healthy eating could help you see the results on the scale you’re looking for.

How to Start Running Long Distance

If you’re like us, you get jealous when people share pictures of a long distance runs on their smart watches. No matter what you do, you just can’t seem to run more than a few miles. A marathon (or even a half-marathon) seems like a distant dream. If running long distance doesn’t come naturally to you, the good news is that it is something that can be learned! After reading these few tips and tricks along with a positive mindset, you’ll start running long distance easily with this how-to guide.

Running long distance has some incredible benefits whether you’re already running short distances or looking to switch up your normal workouts. That running high you always hear about? It’s so real a Swedish institute did research on it. Those who run daily for at least 30 minutes are more likely to live longer. If you’re looking for more reasons to run longer and farther, check out these 6 Science-Backed Ways Running Improves Your Health.

Focus on Fuel

When you’re running long distance your body needs proper fuel, AKA nutrition and hydration. If you don’t fuel your body properly before a long distance run, it will be like a car running on empty. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy and are essential for fueling a long run. The amount of carbohydrates you need to consume will depend on the length of your run. For those who running 60 minutes or longer, it is important to fuel your body similar to the way an athlete fuels theirs.

Hydration is also key for long distance running. The longer you exercise, the more you’re at risk for dehydration. You need to hydrate prior to running, during, and afterwards. If you are hydrating during your run, take a water bottle with you! Or keep an eye out for water fountains on your route.

Have a Positive Mindset

Mindset is everything, in your day-to-day life and when it comes to running. If you tell yourself you can’t run long distance, your body will listen. The quote “if you’re not a confident person, pretend to be one,” by Caitlin Moran, applies perfectly to those with a goal to run longer. Pretend you’re already a long distance runner, your body will start to believe it. Soon enough you’ll be running long distance and realize you don’t have to pretend anymore.

What works for you mentally, will be different than others. If 10 miles seems daunting to you, try breaking it down into five 2 mile runs and take a walk in between. Ten miles is still 10 miles even with breaks! If you need some motivation during your run, try listening to motivational speeches on YouTube. Or try running with a friend, it will get your mind off of the distance while also keeping you company. They can also push you to try harder when you need it.

Pace Yourself

If you’re already able to keep a pace of 10 minutes per mile for 2-3 miles, don’t expect to keep the same pace for 4-6 miles at first. If you’re tired at the end of 2-3 miles for your current pace, don’t push yourself to do more when you’re not ready. Try slowing your pace down to preserve energy and you’ll be surprised at how much farther you can go. Once you’re able to successfully reach your mileage goal, try picking up the pace!

If you’re a sprinter, slowing your pace down can be difficult at first. Your natural instinct is to go and go fast. Entertain yourself with distractions that will keep your mind off of going faster. Put on one of your favorite podcasts or curate a special playlist of your favorite songs. If you’re not a fan of running with headphones try changing up your routes so you’re busy observing new scenery. The easiest way to slow your pace down is to track it with a smart watch or smart phone. All you’ll need to do is glance down at your phone or watch and it tells you your pace! If you’re more into old school methods, run on a path that has mile markers with a stopwatch to monitor how fast you’re going.

Start Using a Running App

Technology might just be your BFF when training for long distances. There are several running apps that exist that serve different purposes. Your smart devices probably have a built in running app that cover your basics being time, mileage, pace, and a map. If you’re looking for something more, check out your app store.

For the sprinters who need something more than just one pace, try an app that breaks a longer run into intervals. If you want a thoroughly detailed training schedule, try out an app that plans out all of your runs for you. There are even apps that match your current running speed with a song that’s rhythm matches your run. Or if you thrive off a community with a similar mindset, try out an app like Strava! We recommend doing some research on the different apps that are out there for your smart tech. Then have some fun testing them out!

Don’t Forget Post-Run Care

It can be easy to get home, kick off your running shoes and just jump in the shower. But remember, you’re pushing yourself more than your normal exercise – which your body is not used to yet. Cool down for a few more blocks than you normally do. Do a deep stretch right after your run to loosen those muscles. Catch your breath and reflect on the amazing run you’ve just completed!

You’ll probably be sore and your body will require more post-workout nourishment. Don’t be afraid to eat some extra carbs since you’ve just depleted your body of energy. Invest in a quality foam roller to massage those sore leg muscles. Lastly, hydration is vital after a long run.

With these easy 5 how-to tips you’ll be able to start running long distance in no time! When you set your mind to being successful, you can achieve your goals. As you start to get the hang of running longer distances, try signing up for a 10k or a half marathon, the races might push you to run your quickest time yet.