How to Reduce Your Stress with a Sniff

When you are doing too much, your stress can cause your body to change in harmful ways. My post Recognize Your Stress Levels lists several ways your body changes. But did you know that stress affects your sense of smell? And did you know that certain scents can allow you to reduce your stress with a sniff? Your Sense of Smell In evolutionary terms, your sense of smell is the oldest of your senses. How does it work? Air comes through your nose and passes over a patch of specialized sensory cells found high inside the nose. These cells send messages to the brain when they detect molecules of a scent. Your brain identifies the odor. But your nose is only part of your sense of smell. There is a tiny channel that connects the roof of your mouth to your nose. Chewing food releases scents that travel through this channel. If congestion blocks this channel (like when you have a cold) food doesn’t taste the same. Another aid to your sense of smell is something called the common chemical sense. It’s made of thousands of nerve endings in the moist areas of your nose, mouth, and eyes. They detect irritating substances such as […]

Ways Music is Good For You and Your Stress

If you follow my Facebook page or profile, you know I love to listen to and share music in almost all its forms. Turns out that music is good for you. In my continuing examination of stress, I share some science behind the ways it is good for you. And I share links to stress-relief acoustics both musical and natural sounds. Scientific studies of stress and cortisol show that relaxing tunes may reduce stress and reduce the time you need to recover from stress. Some studies show that natural sounds (rippling water) may be even more effective than relaxing songs. Historically, musical theorists concerned themselves with the grammar and syntax of music. We simply knew a relationship between melodies and mood and well-being existed. Ways to measure and study this effect are now available to researchers. And we are only just beginning to understand that music affects every system of our body.  In my brief review of the studies I found there is no one study that has found the answer. However, the studies show that there are many ways music is good for you. Brain Studies suggest that music around 60 beats per minute can cause the brain to synchronize with […]

Does Stress Make You Reach For Chocolate?

Does stress make you reach for Chocolate? It does me. Oops. That’s bad. Or is it? There is no question but stress is hard on your body. The inflammation caused by stress challenges your heart, your metabolic, your emotional health, and much more. One way to counteract the effects of stress is to make a plan for healthy foods and exercise when you’re under stress.  Riiight. When I’m stressed out, I’m reaching out for what’s quick or easy or available. Most often I reach for comfort foods high in fat and sugar and starch. And exercise? Fuagetaboutit. I don’t have the time. I’m too stressed. You, too?  This is the third in my series of posts on stress and what we can do about it. (see Recognize Your Stress Levels and To Stress or To Sleep.) In this post, I won’t tell you all the foods and exercise you should be doing. You probably already know. But I will tell you WHY you might want to make better choices. What Stress Produces Dopamine, epinephrine (also known as adrenaline), norepinephrine (noradrenaline), and cortisol are the most common stress hormones. These hormones stimulate the body for the “fight or flight” response. They affect […]