008 // How can I lower stress? 5 tips to reduce and manage stress

Stress impacts your thyroid health. Improve your immune system by lowering your stress. Here are five ways to reduce your stress. These can help those with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis to improve their health.

Health with Hashimoto’s is the free weekly podcast where the exhausted mom can find a path to whole health.

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Woman gripping head in hands while looking at a computer. Episode title below computer is Stress, your thyroid, and Hashimoto's

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How can I lower stress?

It’s a great question, and it’s one that all of us have probably asked at least once, if not a thousand times.

How can I lower stress? How can I lower the stress that I face? How can I help my body and mind as I face that stress? How can I decrease my stressors and my body’s reaction to stress?

Let’s dive into that today. I’m going to give you five more things that you can do for stress.

Stress & Thyroid Health

As I talked to you about in the last episode, there is a very large link between stress and your thyroid health, including the development of an autoimmune condition–any autoimmune condition, especially Hashimoto’s since that’s what we talk about on this podcast.

When you are under stress, there are a couple of things that happen in your body. Number one, we’ve talked about your thyroid producing T4. That’s the inactive form of thyroid, and then your body has to convert that T4, the inactive type, to the active type, which is T3.

When you are under stress, your body starts to convert more of that T4 into reverse T3 instead of the active form of T3. Reverse T3 is like the break system. It’s telling your body, “No, No, no, no, we need to relax. There’s something going on. We need to address it. We need some downtime to heal and to recuperate from what just happened.” So when you’re under stress, you’re getting more of that “break system” instead of more of the fuel that your cells mean to run.

Stress and Inflammation

Other things that happen when you are under stress: your inflammation is increased. Specifically, there are some cytokines inside your body and they increase. What they do when they are increased is they make your thyroid receptors less sensitive to thyroid hormones. So that means even if you are taking medications for your thyroid, those thyroid receptors are not going to accept the thyroid as well. It’s a big deal. We need thyroid for every single cell to turn on; it’s like a spark plug.

Stress and Your Immune System

Another thing that happens when your stress is elevated, is it suppresses your immune system. When you are running in fight or flight mode, your body is concentrating on the immediate future. It is not prioritizing the long-term future. It doesn’t care if you’re not prepared for a month from now. It only worries about the here and now.

Your immune system needs to take care of things, so that everything works together to keep you from getting sick. What happens when you face a trigger like a virus? You go out, and there’s somebody coughing right near you when your immune system was healthy and robust when you’re not under stress. Well, you might not have gotten it. And now, when you’re stressed and your immune system is not working optimally. You might get that virus a little easier. Being under stress lowers our immune function.

Stress & Your Gut

It also weakens the gut barrier. When we talked about the three things everybody who has an autoimmune condition needs to have that autoimmune condition (number one genetic component number two, a gut component, and number three a trigger.) So when you’re under stress, your gut is affected, meaning that the triggers are going to hit easier.

Stress has a huge impact on your physical health. It also impacts your emotional health, your spiritual health. It affects how you eat. Can we say comfort-food anybody? Yeah. Stress impacts everything.

What Can You Do?

So what can you do? Well, let’s give you five tips today.

1: Say No

Number one. Say No, no, is a complete sentence. It’s hard, I know, but when somebody asks you to do something you can say no. You might have to deal with some guilt. You might have to deal with some emotions, but you have to prioritize your health. We’ve all heard. You can’t pour from an empty cup. We’ve all heard that you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you help another. Learn how to say No, it can lower your stress levels.

2: Laugh

Number two. Laugh. Laughter is super powerful for lowering your stress. It shifts you almost instantly from the fight and float, fight and flight, mode to rest and digest laughter decreases your stress.

It’s more powerful if you do it in community, so you can pull up some funny tiktoks or reels or shorts, you can pull up a comedian, you can do whatever you want, and laugh, and that’s awesome. But if you do it with a family member or a friend, and you’re laughing together, it actually increases how powerful that is within your own body and mind. Laughter is powerful. It’s also free and readily available.

If you can’t get out a laugh, you can always do a trick. (I can never remember if I learned this on the show Bones or Rizzoli & Isles.) ¬†You stick a pencil in between your teeth far back, and it activates the muscles in your face that are activated when you’re smiling. So if you can’t get out some true laughter, just stick a pencil in between your teeth, trick your brain into thinking that you’re smiling and happy, and it actually does help shift your body from the stress mode to the rest and the digest mode. It works.

3: Love

Number three: hug, hug somebody, hug a pet love. Love decreases our stress levels. We were created to live in community. We were created for love. And when you don’t have that, your stress goes up. When you do have it your stress goes down.

One of my kids takes some supplements every single day for ah, some some issues that he has, and one of them is a sublingual dropper. So that means I put one drop of a specific nutrient underneath his tongue, and then he has to hold it there. When we started that we also implemented the hug he takes that dropper, and then, whichever parent gave it to him, he gives us a hug. We give him a hug for a minimum of ten seconds. That is part of his supplement routine–increasing the love. It’s a vital part of our health. I don’t know if you’ve seen the memes and the statistics that we all need a certain number of hugs every day, and we don’t get them. Increase your hugs.

4: Thankful Mindset

Number four. Use a gratitude Journal. Now, if you’re not familiar with this, pull out a scrap of paper or pull up a note on your phone and write down three to five things that you’re grateful for. I will encourage you, if you have the choice between writing it out with a pencil or pen versus your phone, always choose pencil or pen for this because it works in your brain differently. It activates both sides of your brain. It increases the power of writing down that gratitude.

When you write down three to five things that you’re grateful for, your brain is going to start looking for things to be grateful for.

Utilize your Reticular Activating System

Your reticular activating system is my favorite part of your brain. It’s about the size of your pinky, and it’s towards the bottom. It’s the brain stem there, and it is the filter to allow the important things through.

So right now, what does your left great toe feel like? Well, before I asked you that you probably had no awareness of what your toe was doing, feeling or anything. And now that I’ve asked you now, you can tell me if you have a sock on, if you can feel the floor beneath you, or maybe your shoe, are you on carpet or hard floor. Is your foot cold, or is it warm There’s so many things that you can tell me about what your toe is feeling now that you were not aware of before I asked the question. That is directly related to your reticular activating system.

Your reticular activating system tells your brain what to focus on, what’s important. When you start keeping a gratitude journal every single day, writing out three to five things that you are grateful for your brain. Your reticular activating system is going to start prioritizing looking for those things. So if you’ve ever been around somebody, and you can always find something to complain about. You don’t want to hang around them right? They’re just a downer. You want to be around people who encourage you, and who can make you laugh, and who can always find the good. Well, your brain has that power. You just need to communicate it to your brain and keeping a gratitude journal is one way to communicate that to your brain. I want to look for the good in every day, so keep a gratitude journal because it will lower your stress levels. It also helps you sleep better if you write in that gratitude journal before bedtime. It’s amazing for sleep.

5: Diaphragmatic Breathing

Number Five. I want to go back to that breathing that I talked about in the last episode, diaphragmatic breathing. It is so powerful because you can do it anytime anywhere, and shift your body out of the stress mode into a rest and digest. If you don’t know how to do it. Put a hand on your chest and a hand on your belly. Keep doing this every time you hear me talk about it on a podcast, because you’re training yourself in breathing with your belly. If you’re breathing with your chest in your shoulders, you’re increasing your stress. You’re breathing with your belly, you’re shifting into rest and digest. It is a good way to lower your stress.

5 Simple & Sustainable Tips for Health with Hashimoto’s

In summary, those five things that you can do. Learn to say no practice. Say no. Just say no. number two. Laugh number three, hug number four. Use a gratitude Journal and Number five diaphragmatic breathing.

Man covered in sticky notes of things to do. Episode title below computer is Stress, your thyroid, and Hashimoto's