This article is written in partnership with R3SET. They’re dedicated to helping us make friends with our stress, and we’re honored to work with them. ~ ed.
“When you change your mind about stress you can change your body’s response to stress.” ~ Dr. Kelly McGonigal
Health psychologist, lecturer at Stanford University, and author of the book, “The Upside of Stress,” Dr. Kelly McGonigal, spent 20 years telling patients that stress was bad for them and helping them to reduce their stress for this reason…until she encountered a perspective-shifting study that changed her mind.
The study tracked 30,000 adults in the United States for eight years. They asked these people, “How much stress have you experienced in the last year?” Then, they asked them, “Do you believe that stress is harmful for your health?” And then they used public death records to find out who died.
What they found may be a surprising relief to those of us who’ve felt stressed beyond our ability to cope recently.
Stress can kill us—or it can make us stronger. The difference is this:
While those who experienced a lot of stress in the previous year had a 43% increased risk of dying, that was only true for those who also believed stress to be harmful. In fact, people who experienced stress but didn’t see it as harmful were at a lower risk than anyone else, including people who weren’t stressed at all.
A healthier relationship with stress can save more than our sanity; it can save our lives.
It’s not enough to just change our mindset, though. We need to develop a set of healthy coping mechanisms to deal with the inevitable stress modern life brings.
This is where R3SET’s 14-Day Stress Reset Program comes in handy. (R3SET is the first all-natural, science-backed supplement for healthy stress support.)
Using the three pillars of stress mastery, they focus on the cognitive (shift your mental approach to stress), behavioral (develop better habits to deal with stress), and physical (natural, non-addictive support) changes we need to make to transition from Nervous Wreck to Stress Jedi, in just 14 days.
As someone who practices mindfulness, meditates and exercises regularly, with a bit of yoga thrown in, I say this with tongue in cheek. There is no such thing as a magic stress pill or jedi mind technique that we can switch on when dealing with something stressful. And that’s not what Dr. First and his scientific advisory board set out to create.
What we can do is cultivate healthier habits. We can create a new normal in response to stress.
“Depending on our own personal levels of mindfulness and awareness, the daily email series might serve as an awakening (I discovered that I don’t laugh often and need to do more of it), or as a reminder (I really need to carve out time for myself every day to get out there and move my body).” ~ Marisa, Elephant editor
Here are six quirky tips from R3SET that I found particularly useful and enlightening, even as someone who was already familiar with mindfulness practices:
6 Jedi Stress Mastery Tools we can all use Daily:
1. Breathe like your life depends on it (it does):
As a yoga practitioner, I’m a big believer in the power of breathing techniques to shift our mental and physical state. The 3/3/6 breath which you get full instructions for on Day 1 of the program (inhaling through your nose for a count of three, holding that breath for a count of three, and exhaling through your mouth for a count of six) is something I now use daily.
2. Lighten the eff up:
One thing I learned about myself in this program is that I don’t laugh nearly enough. Life doesn’t have to be so gaddam, jaw-clenchingly serious, even in the times of Corona! As you’ll discover on Day 2 of the program, laughter can stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
3. Feel, smell, taste, touch it all (okay, maybe don’t touch, for now):
Mindfulness techniques have long used the senses to help us bring us back to the present moment, where, if we can stay long enough, we realize things are not quite as bad as our crazy-busy-stressed-out monkey minds would have us believe. R3SET’s unique incorporation of aromatherapy and breathing techniques helps us do just this.
4. Start a stress journal:
For the duration of today, write down every time you feel stress, and identify the mental and physical effects you’re experiencing. Then try thinking about what kind of stress they’re associated with. Are they nerves/excitement or are they based in fear?
“One of the most important parts of managing stress is identifying it. There are two types of stress we experience on a regular basis, one is acute stress (which is episodic) and the other is chronic stress (which is prolonged). Chronic stress has all the nasty side effects, while acute stress when it can be harnessed is actually good. It’s motivating and empowering. It helps you achieve physical or mental feats beyond what you thought possible! Once you can tell the difference between what kind of stress you’re experiencing, you can begin to shift it to be more beneficial.” ~ Dr. Eric First
5. Unplaque your brain with better zzzzzs:
Many of us were able to get better quality zzzs during lockdown. Every single one of us needs 7-9 hours of quality sleep to allow our brains to enter maintenance mode and remove plaque (yep, your brain gets plaque). So, if you’re trying to lessen the impact of stress, and you’re not into a plaquey brain, get some sleep already.
Besides the soothing effects of the “Not Tonight, Stress” capsule, some good sleep hygiene goes a long way. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule, cutting out screens before bed, and nixing caffeine after 1 p.m. are musts if we want to get a restorative rest.
6. Stay hydrated:
Who knew that how much water you drink affects your stress levels? It’s a trick I’ve used with my children ever since I read it somewhere. When they’re wound up and screamy, I get them a glass of water before doing anything else. Dehydration causes an increase in cortisol. Healthy cortisol-reducing foods including tea and fruits and veggies that are high in soluble fibers (like apples and Brussels sprouts). Oh, and for extra credit, try swapping out milk chocolate for dark chocolate. It has stress-reducing qualities and is pretty damn tasty.
A holistic approach to stress management.
Our stress response is triggered by three beautifully and synchronistically evolved internal defense mechanisms (our nervous, endocrine, and immune systems) which have helped keep us alive long enough to figure out how to thrive in this often hostile world.
But now that we’re (generally) no longer faced with life-or-death situations on a regular basis, our three inner guardians can also become our own worst enemies.
R3SET’s addictive smelling, aromatherapy coated capsules are chock-full of a unique combination of clinically-backed natural ingredients like l-theanine, valerian root, and ahi flower in the daytime capsules, and ashwagandha, passion flower, and chamomile in the nighttime.
The micro-dosed balances are formulated by a medical doctor to support all three of these pathways responsible for managing and amplifying stress throughout the body.
Natural Stress Support for your Body & Mind
1. Not Today or Tonight, Stress
The effects are subtle, yet noticeable.
Programmed as we are to believe that a pill (even a 100% natural one) could and should provide us with some kind of instant relief, RX style, that’s not a healthy or sustainable way to cope with stress—or most things really.
“For 14 days I took one ‘Not Today, Stress’ capsule in the morning, and one ‘Not Tonight, Stress’ capsule at night. I also received daily emails that overviewed something we could do each day to possibly make a big difference in reducing stress levels…
While I do not feel like a new woman after 14 days taking the capsules, I did find myself able to deal with big life changes better than usual. Whereas my body might go into survival mode, pumping adrenaline through my veins over something small like a request at work, I found myself more even-keeled and ready to dig in.” ~ Marisa, Elephant editor
Each pack comes with a little instruction card that includes a breathing exercise to do as part of your R3SET ritual, morning and night.
At first, I felt a little weird about breathing in the aroma of citrus mint in the morning and lavender mint at night from a bottle of capsules, but it soon became a moment that I looked forward to.
The multi-sensory experience extends to your taste buds as well, and though it felt a little counterintuitive to hold the citrus and lavender mint-flavored capsules in my mouth at first, I started to savor that part, too.
Perhaps it’s just the power of a repeated ritual, but my morning kick of citrus and nightcap of lavender became a sort of trigger for my body and mind over the course of the 14 days: to calm alertness in the mornings, and shoulder-releasing relaxation in the evenings.
Marisa experienced something similar:
“I started and ended my days with the breathing technique prescribed with the pills. The ritual added to my standard, simple morning routine, and deepened my feelings of groundedness.
Those three little breaths helped me feel more centered—about a few days in, I started to incorporate them more regularly throughout my day.
The night time capsules placed me in a dreamy, ultra-present state in the evenings. I found myself really striving to enjoy every moment of the evening capsules as I breathed in their scent and then let the capsule melt in my mouth (I do have a longstanding love affair with lavender).
It’s almost like this little ritual melted away all the stuff I usually focus on trying to plan out and control for the following day. It made a noticeable difference in my sleep quality, too, which I monitor. I watched as it went from an average of 73 percent to 79 percent quality.”
Combined with R3SET’s 14-day crash course of tools, tips, and education, we’re both well on our way to becoming black belts in stress mastery. Just kidding, we’re still working on it…
One (giant) step toward making stress work for us (and even falling a little in love with it).
This is not a cure for stress, but we shouldn’t actually want to cure stress. Stress makes us smarter, faster, and smarter than we usually are—giving us the best shot at one-upping whatever we’re facing, whether that’s a predator, a virus, or a work presentation.
It also helps bond us to one another and mold us into the successfully socially dependent beings we are, thanks to the release of oxytocin (yep, the cuddle hormone) that it triggers in us.
But if we don’t have those healthy coping mechanisms and a little natural support for our bodies and minds in place, our natural inner defenses can send us into a state of chronic stress before we can say, “adrenal burnout.”
It was well past the time to hit the reset button for me, and now that I have, I’m breathing it allll in and letting it allll, and loving on my stress just a little more. It’s part of what makes me—and you—human, after all.
“More than anything, my experience with the R3SET capsules has left me with a desire to figure out an even more sturdy routine both in terms of my daily grind and in terms of self-care. After all, we can’t grind if we aren’t plugged in. The 14-day R3SET program served as an eye-opener and a good place for me to begin.” ~ Marisa, Elephant editor