The One Emotion That Can Amplify Health Issues + How To Manage It, From An MD

mbg Senior Sustainability Editor By Emma Loewe
mbg Senior Sustainability Editor
Emma Loewe is the Senior Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen and the author of "The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care."
(Last Used: 2/9/21) Stressed Woman with Hands Over Her Eyes in a Studio

To state the obvious: We're living in a stressful time. And while a little bit of stress feels like the price we pay for existence, longtime functional medicine doctor Robert Rountree, M.D., says it's essential to keep it under control.

Rountree calls stress "the great amplifier" of underlying health issues. "If a person gets super stressed-out, it's going to amplify all of those issues," he said on the mbg podcast.

Now, it's impossible—and ultimately, unhelpful—to try to avoid stress at all costs. Instead, Rountree says it's all about finding stress management tools that work for you and sticking with 'em. Here are three that he has found the most success with over the years that could be worth adding into your routine:

1. Hemp

Rountree says there's something to the recent hemp-derived CBD craze but considers full-spectrum hemp products to be more effective for relieving stress.*

For a quick refresher, full-spectrum hemp contains a number of beneficial phytocannabinoids—plant compounds that have a relaxing, balancing effect on the body and mind.* When taken in tandem, these compounds' calming properties can really shine.*

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Next-generation stress relief, featuring EU organic hemp oil, ashwagandha, and lavender oil*

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While not a miracle cure, hemp oil can be the cherry on top of a solid stress management routine and help take the edge off of daily stressors.* Rountree has seen it be particularly effective when paired with other sources of phytocannabinoids and terpenes, like lavender oil.*

Working with leading manufacturers of science-backed ingredients, mindbodygreen developed a powerful go-to tool for stress management: calm+, which pairs full-spectrum certified organic hemp oil with lavender oil and ashwagandha extract.* We're really proud of this newly renovated product, which you can learn more about here.

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2. Pragmatic thoughts.

When Rountree wants to help a patient stress less, the "locus of control" is one of the first things he talks to them about. "Part of what makes people feel stressed is feeling out of control, feeling like everything that's happening in the world is outside of their realm," he explains. One skim through the news only reinforces the feeling that we don't have any agency over the things happening around us and to us. This mindset can cause us to discount the areas of our life that we do have control over, exacerbating anxious thoughts.

The next time you fall into this way of thinking, integrative psychologist Aparna Iyer, M.D., recommends taking a step back and attempting to understand what part of that situation you do have influence over—no matter how tiny. "Even if it's something that seems super small, it can break this thought pattern and you'll be better off," she writes on mbg. "Chances are that you have more influence over the situation than you might think."

3. Box breathing

Rountree has been meditating for stress management for over 45 years. More recently, he added controlled breathing techniques—specifically the box breathing method—to his routine. This breathwork entails releasing all of the air from your chest and holding your breath for 4 seconds, then breathing in through the nose for 4 seconds, then holding your breath for 4 seconds, then exhaling out of the nose for 4 seconds.

Breathwork teacher Gwen Dittmar recommends repeating this 4-4-4-4 cycle for five minutes, or until you start to feel more calm. Rountree likes to call on this one when he feels suddenly overwhelmed by a stressful thought and wants to ground back into his body. Going back to the pragmatic thought component, breathwork is a good way to take control of your reaction when faced with a stressor that's otherwise out of your control.

While stress will always be a part of daily life, having the right tools can help take the edge off, which could pay dividends for health down the line.

calm+
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
(16)
calm+

calm+

Next-generation stress relief, featuring EU organic hemp oil, ashwagandha, and lavender oil*

calm+

calm+

Next-generation stress relief, featuring EU organic hemp oil, ashwagandha, and lavender oil*

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
(16)
calm+

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