THE BLOG
12/11/2014 11:54 am ET Updated Feb 10, 2015

How Chronic Stress Can Create Hormonal Havoc, Part Two

In part one of this blog, I described how stress could make you fat, miserable, and throw numerous hormones out of balance. Fortunately, an arsenal of strategies can help you keep your calm when life doles out storms. Among them, these 13 are some of my favorites:

1. Tap. Tapping combines ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology. Pick up a copy of Nick Ortner's new book The Tapping Solution to learn more.

2. Address the underlying causes of stress. Find the biological causes of problems with the mind by working on the "7 Keys to UltraWellness." Mercury toxicity, magnesium and vitamin B12 deficiencies, and gluten allergies could be changing your brain. Changing your body can change your mind.

3. Actively Relax. Humans remain primed to always do something. Even when we're not working, our mind is on work. Learn how to actively relax. To engage the powerful forces of the mind on the body, you must do something relaxing. You can't just sit there watching television or drinking beer. Whether that means deep breathing or a simple leisurely walk, find active relaxation that works for you and do it.

4. Learn New Skills. Try learning new skills such as yoga, biofeedback, and progressive muscle relaxation or take a hot bath, make love, get a massage, watch a sunset, or walk in the woods or on the beach.

5. Move Your Body. Exercise is a powerful, well-studied way to burn off stress chemicals and heal the mind. Studies show exercise works better than or equal to Prozac for treating depression. Try interval training if you're short on time but want a powerful, intense workout.

6. Supplement. Take a multivitamin and nutrients to help balance the stress response, such as vitamin C; the B-complex vitamins, including B6 and B5 or pantothenic acid; zinc; and most important, magnesium, the relaxation mineral.

7. Try Herbs. Use adaptogenic herbs (herbs that help you adapt and balance your response to stress) such as ginseng, Rhodiolarosea, Siberian ginseng, cordyceps, and ashwagandha.

8. Use Heat Therapy. Take a hot bath or a sauna to help your body deeply relax and turn on the relaxation response.

9. Change Your Beliefs. Examine your beliefs, attitudes, and responses to common situations and consider reframing your point of view to reduce stress.

10. Find a Community. Consciously build your network of friends, family, and community. They are your most powerful allies in achieving long-term health.

11. Breathe. Most of us hold our breath often or breathe swallow, anxious breaths. Deep, slow, full breaths have a profound affect on resetting the stress response, because the relaxation nerve (or vagus nerve) goes through your diaphragm and is activated with every deep breath. Take five deep breaths now, and observe how differently you feel after.

12. Meditate. Find a practice that works for you. You can also try my UltraCalm CD, featuring guided meditations and relaxation techniques.

13. Sleep. Lack of sleep increases stress hormones. Get your eight hours no matter what. Take a nap if you missed your sleep. Prioritize sleep.

What one technique or strategy would you add to this list to manage stress levels? Share yours below or on my Facebook fan page.

Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, M.D.

Mark Hyman, M.D. believes that we all deserve a life of vitality -- and that we have the potential to create it for ourselves. That's why he is dedicated to tackling the root causes of chronic disease by harnessing the power of Functional Medicine to transform health care. Dr. Hyman and his team work every day to empower people, organizations, and communities to heal their bodies and minds, and improve our social and economic resilience.

Please join him in helping us all take back our health at www.drhyman.com, follow him on Twitter and on Facebook and Instagram.