Stress has a bad reputation, and honestly, some of it is deserved. When you feel overwhelmed, it kicks off a cascade of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline—gearing you up to fight whatever threat is dominant, or flee if needed.

If those hormones stay elevated for longer than a short burst, you’re now in chronic-stress mode, which has been shown to have significantly negative impacts on sleep, digestion, fat retention (especially in the midsection), cardiovascular disease, immune response, and mental well-being.

Here’s the good news: Not only can regular exercise lower stress levels in the long term, but you can actually use those temporarily heightened hormone levels to your advantage. In fact, for some people, stress is a performance booster—if you can build enough awareness to see it as fuel and not an out-of-control fire that needs to be quenched immediately.

The next time you’re feeling a stress surge, consider directing it into these strategies:

5 Adaptogen Foods That Can Help You Recover Faster and Fight Stress

5 Adaptogen Foods to Aid Recovery

Fight stress and recover faster with this unique group of plant-based compounds.

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