The bad news? There's no way to really "get rid of" stress. The good news? You can manage it, and one "stress expert," Dr. Pete Sulack, doctor of chiropractic, has a method for it.
"Stress isn't just drama or deadlines," said stress expert Dr. Sulack. "It's total toxic body burden, and it's a byproduct of living in our modern world." And while he emphasized that eliminating stress is impossible, he talked about a principle he applies to it to keep it in check.
"I can't emphasize enough the importance of counterbalance. You can't avoid stress, but you can counterbalance it with these steps."
Get ready to get happy and find more balance in your life by deepening connections, getting proper nutrition, resting, working out, detoxing, aligning, feeling grateful, and giving back. Apply any and all of these — even in simple ways — to your everyday life to start feeling less overwhelmed.
Dr. Sulack's first principle involves reclaiming your connection with other people, with nature, and with yourself. Do you feel disconnected and isolated at times? Too immersed in technology? He suggests counterbalancing with the following:
- "Real, soulful connections with friends, family, or neighbors." Call a friend you haven't talked to in a while. Get coffee with your mom or go on a walk with your significant other. Say hi to your neighbors or co-workers more often!
- Go outside! He told us that research shows that even spending one minute outside can improve your mood and outlook, and that spending time in nature can lower blood pressure.
- Reflect on your purpose. Take time to evaluate what is important to you, who you are, and what you want out of life, even if that means a few minutes on the subway or during your commute. Dr. Sulack said this will "provide a true north that helps you chart through often perilous waters."
Food can play a key factor in stress levels. Dr. Sulack suggests adopting a "clean, organic, and unprocessed diet" that "gives your body and brain the nutrients to thrive." His rule of thumb? "If it comes from a plant, eat it. If it's made in a plant, just don't."
We'd also suggest considering adding omega-3s, B vitamins, and magnesium into your diet to get some relaxing, healing benefits.
Dr. Sulack says most of us are "tired but wired" when we're feeling stressed. He noted that getting more sleep is a key to counterbalancing stress. Try setting up a bedtime routine to get ready for a more restful slumber, or trying a sleep-aiding app.
So, this might be our favorite tip. "Most Americans feel the backaches, tension headaches, and sluggishness that come along with a sedentary lifestyle," he told us. "Regular functional and fun movement, like sports, swimming, walking, bicycling, and dancing, counterbalance the stress of the hours you spend in an office chair, the car, and on the couch."
So you know what that means . . . it's time to move! Add some more fitness into your daily routine to counterbalance general stress. If you're feeling overwhelmed when you're at work, try going for a walk (and going outside to connect with nature!) or finding a place to do some crunches, push-ups, or simple no-equipment exercise moves.
Because stress can be a constant and "under stress, the body becomes deficient and toxic," Dr. Sulack says we must detoxify the body daily. Here are some tips he suggests:
- Oil pulling
- Eating veggies (which "boosts glutathione")
- Hot baths
- Drinking half your weight in ounces of filtered water (i.e., if you're 150 lbs., drink 75 ounces of water)
- Sweating (yay, exercise!)
- Using essential oils
This principle applies to your physical and mental state. "Making life choices that aren't in alignment with our highest vision and deepest values causes undue psychic and spiritual stress." Are you doing things that are true to your character and what you believe in? Dr. Sulack believes that "making choices that carry out the vision for your life" is one way to counterbalance stress. Get back in touch with what you want, what your goals are, and what you believe — and stick to it!
In terms of physical alignment, Dr. Sulack — a chiropractor himself — described spinal adjustments as a way to "stimulate the brain and central nervous system without breaking the 'loop' of stress that travels along the HPA axis (hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal)."
What does that mean? Getting a spinal adjustment will "reduce cortisol" (the stress hormone) and keep your body balanced.
"Cynics have more than a two-and-a-half-times greater risk of developing dementia than those who have gratitude," said Dr. Sulack. Letting go of anger and choosing gratitude is "a proven way to increase vibrational energy and counterbalance the entropy and stress of life!"
Stuck in traffic? A co-worker was unkind to you? Buried in emails and missed calls and you feel like the world is falling down on you? Think of 10 things you're grateful for — and let the stress melt away.
"Generosity is the capstone of all the steps to de-stress," Dr. Sulack told us. It's known as "coping," he said. "We can't get rid of stress, but we can learn to cope with it by counterbalancing its effects."
He cited recent studies about caregivers who gave willingly (at manageable levels) living longer, and those who do more for others experience more happiness and joy. "Joy is the highest vibrational energy, and with it comes many health and wellness benefits."
Generosity comes in many forms — giving a ride to a co-worker, helping a neighbor take out the trash, giving a sandwich to someone who is homeless. Start small! Give a little bit, gain a lot.