Learn How To Reduce Stress and Bring Joy Back Into Your Life

posted by

Dr. Mandy Patterson

Have you experienced stress in the last few days? I’m willing to bet you have – whether it’s from rushing your kids to one event or the next or managing a big project at work (or both). If you live in the United States, you are part of the most stressed group of people in the world. According to Gallup, almost 55% of adults from the United States say they are stressed during a majority of the day compared to just 35% globally.  So, how do you really reduce stress and bring joy back into your life?  


When talking about your health, mindset matters just as much as your blood sugar, cholesterol, or blood pressure.


Your attitude, spiritual belonging, and sense of community can go a long way to improving your overall health experience.  Psychological resilience is a strong indicator of longevity. It’s also a way to combat chronic stress.  


Today we are going to learn how to reduce stress and bring joy back into your life. We are going to take a common, stress-filled life, and turn it into something uncommon: a joy-filled life!  

Slow down, breathe in deeply, and look for ways to find microscopic joy in your day to day.

The Dangers of Stress 

The average person has around 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day according to the National Science Foundation. That’s a lot of thoughts, but get this, they’re mostly repetitive! Repetitive thoughts can have constructive or unconstructive consequences


For example, they can lead to feelings of depression or anxiety, and even cause difficulties with your physical health! On the other hand, repetitive thoughts can lead to recovery from traumatic events and depression, and an uptick of health promoting behaviors. 


So, where does stress come into play? 


The feeling of stress occurs when our body and brain responds to something it sees as threatening. This can include performance at work or school, a traumatic event, or a significant life change. When you enter this flight or fight mode your body releases the hormone cortisol which helps you face the upcoming challenge.  Responding to stress is your body’s great short term solution, but constantly triggering this response can feel to your body a lot like burning the candle at both ends.

Can't get out of bed? Reduce your stress.

Overwhelmed by life? Find simple ways to bring joy back into your life!

The Stress – Autoimmune Connection 

There’s a lot of stressful things going on in today’s world. However, stress does more than just affect your mood, it can cause adverse health effects, even chronic health illnesses. 


In fact, a recent study published in 2018 demonstrated a connection between autoimmune conditions and chronic stress. The Swedish study followed one million people over thirty years and found that people with stress-related disorders like PTSD were 30-40% more likely to develop autoimmune conditions.  


Additionally, retrospective studies have discovered that people who struggle with autoimmune diseases experienced a period of high stress before they developed autoimmune conditions. 


It’s not entirely surprising considering that when you are under chronic stress your immune system is also on alert for a longer period of time. This results in chronic inflammation, the precursor to many autoimmune diseases. 


Did you ever wonder why when you have a big project at work or a really stressful life event, you became sick shortly after? The stress-autoimmune connection helps explain that phenomena.

Stress and GI Function 

As a practitioner of functional medicine, all too often I’ve seen the interplay between the gut microbiome and an individual’s health. This may come as a surprise to you, but stress also impacts the function of your gastrointestinal tract (GI) which is even more reason to reduce stress and bring joy back into your life.


The gut-brain axis refers to the bidirectional communication between the central nervous system and the gut microbiome, or the millions of bacteria living within your GI tract. Through means of neural, immune, endocrine, and humoral links, the brain and the gut are in a constant conversation. The gut microbiota has been implicated in a variety of stress-related conditions including anxiety, depression and irritable bowel syndrome.


When your gut bacteria aren’t happy the rest of your body isn’t either, and stress is a disruptor of your happy gut bacteria. Studies suggest that stress-mediated changes can shift the microbial colonization patterns of bacteria in the intestine and alter your susceptibility to infection. 


To put it more simply, the more stress you experience the more disrupted your gut microbiome becomes, thus increasing your vulnerability to getting sick.

How to Reduce Stress

It’s so important to learn how to reduce stress, friends. Not only can chronic stress result in increased susceptibility to infection and autoimmune disease, it’s just not a good way to live your life. A stress-filled life is a hard life. Let’s talk about how to reduce stress so you can live a joy-filled life.    

  • Spend more time with family and friends

Creating family time is a wonderful way to recharge and be present mentally. Social support has been shown to increase resilience to stress. It’s a great way to take your mind off the future or past and rest in the blessing of your community. 

Find your tribe of people

Community is so important for our mental health and physical well-being.

  • Reduce the time on your phone 

Reduce stress by giving yourself a social media cleanse. Take the opportunity to see what you would do with your time if you didn’t have to keep up with all the “likes.” Don’t forget to remember that social media is a highlight reel and life is oftentimes more difficult than people show on social media. 

  • Go to an Infrared Sauna

Infrared saunas use wavelengths of infrared light to warm your body from the inside out. The infrared light regulates your cortisol levels and penetrates deep to relax tense muscles. They are not as hot as steam saunas and generally more comfortable. Many spas now offer infrared sauna in addition to a steam sauna. 

  • Practice deep breathing

Deep breathing is a great exercise to get in the habit of practicing. You can do it anytime, anywhere! Sit up straight, close your eyes, and take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. It will slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure, helping calm you down and reduce stress. 

  • Exercise

Regarding mental health support, exercise is an important partner. Just like deep breathing and meditation, exercise has been shown to lead to improvements in anxiety and depression. If meditation isn’t helping you calm your mind, try going for a run or even a hot yoga class!

  • Don’t bring work home

Oftentimes, work is the biggest stressor in our lives. When you learn how to set up boundaries between work and home you can effectively reduce stress. Give yourself time to refuel at home and be present with your loved ones. Don’t give work a second thought when you’re at home. 

  • Get enough sleep

If you’re stressed AND short changing yourself on sleep, you’re pushing an already worn out body to it’s limit. Getting enough sleep will give you the energy you need to face a new day. If you absolutely can’t get to bed any earlier, try taking a nap during the day. Research shows that a 15 minute nap can help reduce stress and tension

  • Practice positivity

We talked about how your mind can change the trajectory of your health. It’s a powerful thing! In fact, you can reduce your stress by reading, watching, or listening to positive things. In addition to changing the outside environment, change your personal self talk from negative to positive. Make positivity a habit. The more we do something the more our brains will change to be in line with that thing!  If you would like some more simple tricks and tips to be more mindful and reduce your stress, check out my free Less Stress for Mom’s Guide here Less Mom Stress or check out a previous blog post Break Up with Stress and Anxiety For Good

Work With a Holistic Health Coach 


If you need help practicing positivity or implementing any of these methods to reduce stress let me know. As a Certified Holistic Health Coach my job is to help you bring joy back into your life through vibrant physical and mental health! Fill out my contact form to get started!  

Mandy Patterson

Dr. Mandy


Hi, I’m Mandy, a Functional Naturopath specializing in Fertility & the Founder of a Boutique Fertility Focused Wellness Practice.


Join a community of people who are learning the simple steps you can take right now to boost your fertility and hormones.

Functional naturopath & fertility practitioner

Owner of a Boutique Fertility Focused Wellness Practice to help you conceive naturally & feel empowered on your fertility journey. It’s time to bring joy into your pregnancy journey with a functional fertility expert.

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