Seven Ways to De-Stress

Stress is the disease of the twenty-first century. I’ve read that 80% of our illnesses are driven by stress. Our bodies are built to handle stress unless it becomes excessive and relentless.

If you want to improve your health and well-being, you must make a decision to lower stress levels and de-stress. Some of the culprits we need to manage as personal leaders and professionals are:

  • Worry
  • Anxiety
  • Fear

In my work around emotional intelligence, we explain the brain science of emotions and how too much stress over-produces cortisol, a hormone in our bodies. People can actually become addicted to it, like a drug. The more you go “fast and furious” through life, the more stress increases, and the more you become accustomed to it. You body begins to crave it, crazy enough.

People today brag about “out-hustling” and living in the fast lane. The normal response now when I ask someone how they are doing is, “Busy.” Even yesterday, a client said, “I’m stressed, both personally and professionally.”

Here is what cortisol does to your body:

  • Sends your heart rate into overdrive, pounding four times it’s natural rate
  • Over extends lung function
  • Constricts your blood vessels
  • Elevates blood pressure to dangerous levels
  • Dries your mouth and shuts down your stomach and intestines
  • Drains blood from your face and skin
  • Lower your immune system function
  • Lowers sexual interest and reproductive capacity
  • Slows healing
  • Shrinks parts of your brain and impacts short-term memory function

This sounds like bad news, right? It is actually destructive news. I have started paying a lot more attention to my stress levels as I’ve felt it’s impact on my health and well-being.

Here are seven pillars for good health and ways to de-stress:
1. Drink a lot of water
Water is the only thing that properly cleanses our body from dangerous toxins.

2. Get more sleep, not less
Sleep restores brain function and replenishes the immune system. My ideal sleep is 9:30pm to 5:00am. I also incorporate one day of R&R (rest and recovery) each week. My wife, Julie, and I practice a weekly sabbath, a day of religious observance and abstinence from work, simply a day of rest! 

3. Eat living foods
View food as fuel, not pleasure. Eat natural growing foods such as fruits, vegetables, and organic/hormone-free meats.

4. Exercise
I’ve exercised consistently for forty years. Yes, I’ve participated in different programs and various approaches along the way, but I’ve stayed consistent with my routine. Even if you participate in 15-20 minutes of vigorous activity each day, it can reduce and manage cortisol levels.

5. Wheat grass 
I can hear you now… WHAT?? Yes, look it up and read about the health benefits. Julie and I put it in our smoothies or I mix it in the morning in a shot glass with water. Also, multivitamins and extra vitamin D are important to consume. Everyone is different, customize your supplements accordingly. 

6. Detox and fasting
Try a one-day fast as a detox. You could always try a three-day cleanse, too. Sauna’s are a great method to eliminate toxins as well. 

7. Prayer/Meditation
It’s amazing the days that I start with solitude. Sometimes, I like to say to myself, “Steve, you’re not a machine, you are a human being!” I have a body, soul, and spirit. Every time I take a few moments to pray and meditate, I can feel a release of worry, stress, and receive a sense of comfort and strength. 

Take a moment, right now, and breath. Life is so short, make a few decisions to get started on your de-stress rituals and practices.

Here’s to lowering your cortisol levels!
—Steve

As a master storyteller, Steve has unparalleled ability to communicate dynamic business and leadership truths through stories, anecdotes and humor. Harness the power of the “number one” predictor of professional success, impact, leadership, high performance and sustainable relationships in business and life. Steve’s highest rated keynote presentation.

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“The purpose of Leadership Quest is to help professionals develop their personal leadership, vision and emotional intelligence. Everyday I strive to help leaders and teams achieve their desired goals in sales productivity, leadership, time maximization, and life-balance. ”

About the Author

Steve Gutzler is the President of Leadership Quest, a Seattle-based leadership development company. Steve is a dynamic, highly-sought-after speaker who has delivered more than 2,500 presentations to a list of clients including Microsoft, Starbucks, the Seattle Seahawks, Pandora Radio, Boeing, Cisco, Starwood Corporation, the Ritz Carlton group, and the U.S. Social Security Administration. He recently was voted #1 by the readership of Huffington Post as the Most Inspirational Leader on Social Media.

A published author on leadership and emotional intelligence, Steve resides near Seattle with his wife Julie where they enjoy time with their three adult children and six grandchildren.