Natural ways to balance "stress chemicals" in the brain

Updated: Jun 13, 2020

As a behavioural change specialist using NLP based tools, I help people change the responses, reactions and patterns of behaviour that have previously prevented them from having the life they deserve.

These blog's are NOT intended to offer scientific explanations or supporting evidence of the concepts outlined in this discussion. I rather aim to consolidate some useful perspectives and offer practical tips and tools to expand your thinking, find some useful strategies and enjoy the benefits that you discover in the process.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are currently in need of immediate and effective support for what may feel like an overwhelming situation, please contact me directly to book a private session. I am available for either face to face appointments or on-line sessions.

You’re also invited to visit www// to listen to more interviews, podcasts and videos.


Follow the below link to listen to the brief discussion on the "Mind Matters", on Radio Todays' "Miller Time Sunday Breakfast show".


Resilience is a quality crucial to our ability to succeed, face challenges and enjoy a happy, fulfilling life. In this blog we'll explore the role that brain chemistry plays on our emotional state and ability to navigate our world. We will also consider why balancing these stress hormones is relevant to building resilience.


“Resilience is the capacity to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life


Being resilient does not mean that we don’t experience stress, emotional upheaval,

or suffering. Resilience allows us to work through challenges, trauma and difficulty even if they extend over long periods of time and require a step by step approach to resolving them. Resilience allows us to quickly return to a resourceful position where we are capable of managing our emotional state. By developing a high level of resilience we are able to “ring fence” the difficulty in our lives and still experience joy, fun and satisfaction in other areas of our lives while working through the complex problem or experience that we have not yet resolved.


When we are faced with high stress or traumatic situations, our bodies release stress hormones, two of the most commonly recognised one’s being cortisol and adrenaline, into our system. The release of these hormones induces a fight, flight or freeze response. When this happens our limbic brain is forced to shut down and all our resources become focused on the “essential functioning” necessary to save our lives. What we need to recognise is that when this happens our ability to regulate emotion and apply logic or rational reasoning is compromised. In other words our ability to return to a resourceful position, a crucial component of resilience, is delayed. What can we do to help regulate these hormones and bring ourselves into balance so that we are, more easily, able to cope with and resolve the challenges we face.



The simple act of breathing is one we often take for guaranteed It is our most accessible, immediate and effective way to reduce stress and bring our brain chemistry back into balance. Meditation practitioners for thousands of years have known that controlling and using our breath impacts the health of our mind and body.

By using some simple breathing techniques, we can:

  • Release tension in our bodies

  • Lower our heart rate

  • Lower our blood pressure

  • Reduce depression

  • Reduce chronic pain

  • Reduce signs of fatigue

  • Increase Energy

  • Quieten our minds

  • Improve digestion

There are many mindful breathing techniques to choose from so here are two that you can try anywhere without attracting attention:

1) Breathe deeply into the bottom of our stomaches for 3 seconds, hold the breath for 3 seconds and then release the breath making sure to exhale all the air. ( I like to imagine that as I exhale, I breathe out all the tension in my body and release all fear based thoughts with it)

2) Breathe deeply filling our lungs completely, then as we hold our breath for 3 seconds, we push the air from our lungs down into our stomach, stretching the diaphragm before exhaling and releasing all the air.


Many people practice meditation, hoping to stave off stress and stress-related health problems. Mindfulness meditation, in particular, has become more popular in recent years. The practice of mindful meditation involves sitting comfortably, focusing on our breathing, and bringing our mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future.

When we meditate, we clear away the "information overload" that builds up and contributes to our stress, this can help to:

  • Gaining a more useful perspective as we become mindful of our thoughts

  • Focus our energy more productively

  • Increasing self-awareness

  • Focusing on the present

  • Reducing negative emotions

  • Increasing imagination, creativity and problem solving ability

  • Increasing patience and tolerance

  • Release physical tension

  • Reduce Cortisol levels


Yes we all know by now how toxic sugar, processed carbs, alcohol and cigarettes are to our bodies and how strong the body mind connection is. It should be no surprise that paying attention to what we put into our bodies is an important part of effectively, reducing stress and improving brain function.

While I have studied Nutrition, this is not the purpose of this blog and so I’ll leave it you to research and explore the right nutritional approach for you.

My simple guidelines would be to:

  • Avoid processed (man-made) carbs, these convert to sugar

  • Recognise that Sugar is our enemy

  • Drink plenty of clean water

  • Ensure that each meal has good balance of protein, natural healthy fats, fresh vegetables and natural fibre (when in doubt choose green!)

  • Limit fruit to one portion a day (even natural sugar should be in moderation)

  • Be aware that fruit juice is extremely concentrated as such, very high in sugar

  • As far as possible eat food in its most natural form


Feeling the sun on our skin, grass under our feet and a breeze moving over our skin are just some of the small pleasures, that cost us nothing and leave us feeling refreshed and revived. Spending time outdoors has so many benefits here are just a few:

  • Improves short-term memory

  • Reduces stress

  • Increases vitamin D levels

  • Improves sleep

  • Boosts our immune system

  • Reduces inflammation

  • Improves vision, as we take a break from artificial light

  • Inspires creativity

  • Increases happiness

  • Develops a deeper sense of spirituality and connection


Hugging is a definite WIN/WIN. Science has proven that hugging for at least 20 seconds (a pretty long hug) has the following benefits:

  • Reduces cortisol

  • Helps us sleep better

  • Reduces inflammation

  • Reduces anxiety

  • Lowers blood pressure

  • Supports the immune system

  • Lowers our heart rates

  • Stimulates brain function and improves our memory

  • Prompts positive emotion through the release of Oxytocin


Many integrative medical specialists now recommend fa warm Epsom salt bath for its physical and mental health benefits. The magnesium absorbed through the skin while relaxing in a hot Epsom salt bath is believed to

  • Stabilise mood and relieve stress and anxiety

  • Increase serotonin (happiness hormone)

  • Relax muscles

  • Reduce inflammation

  • Improve digestion


Yes exercise is important, as we get out bodies moving and hearts pumping we release those awesome endorphins that leave us feeling great! Its time to put our dance shoes on, hit the gym, explore some X rated activity with our partner or hit the road for a run and enjoy the rush of "feel good!" hormones.


Let music move our souls, calm our minds and take us to places that set us free. If we're music lovers', the benefit of music needs no explanation. Let's find your groove and get lost in the music that moves us and lowers those over excited stress hormones.


Playing with a dog or cat can elevate our levels of serotonin and dopamine, these calm and relax us. One of the reasons for these therapeutic effects is that pets fulfil the basic human need for touch. Stroking, hugging, or otherwise touching a loving animal can rapidly calm and soothe us when we’re stressed or anxious.


It has been found that praying involves the deeper parts of our brain involved in self-reflection and self-soothing. When we sit down and engage in prayer we re-engage our prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that rules our executive functioning and enables us to make intelligent mindful decisions. By praying to a benevolent (loving) God we can activate neural pathways, that most of us developed as young children, to release hormones such as oxytocin. The idea that we can count on something or someone to protect us can provide a source of hope. Increased levels of oxytocin can give us a good feeling despite the circumstances we may find ourselves facing.


Stress and sleep are commonly linked in a reciprocal cycle, being aware of this link should make us mindful that when we are faced with high stress situations, paying attention to our sleep routine will go a long way to supporting our ability to cope. If we are dealing with chronic sleep disorders, and finding no relief from the suggestions below, it may be necessary to seek professional assistance to restore a healthier balance. (NLP has proved to be a very effective option for many people in this regard.)

I hope that this information has been helpful. you are very welcome to contact me with any questions or to find out more about what I do or the training that we offer: e-mail:

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