By Jennifer Landis
Whether it’s money, work or politics, it seems as though everyone in America is stressed about something. All that tension and anxiety has a way of weighing us down, both mentally and physically. Because stress remains ever-present in our lives, it can be hard to get rid of the feeling that we’re overwhelmed.
Fortunately, plenty of tried-and-true methods exist for reducing stress, and many of them are completely natural methods for feeling calmer and better all around. Here are five options to de-stress as purely as possible:
Sweat might just be the best natural stress reliever out there. For one thing, a good workout releases endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemicals. They act as a kind of natural painkiller, which wards off anxious, tense feelings. Plus, exercise helps expend energy and tire you out so you get a better night’s sleep. Make sure you focus on the four elements of fitness – aerobic, muscle fitness, balance & flexibility, and core. All of these elements combined provide your body with a balanced workout.
Finally, working out makes you feel more confident in yourself, both physically and mentally. So, add regular exercise into your schedule and let sweat help you fight stress.
Breathe Essential Oils
Another all-natural way to fight stress is with relaxing scents. Essential oils have myriad uses, from natural cleaning agents to digestion aids. When you feel stressed, reach for the right essential oil and take a deep breath of the all-natural scent. You might feel your stress dissipating with each inhalation.
When it comes to stress relief, you have a slew of proven essential oils to choose from. Lavender, neroli, rose, bergamot, frankincense, sandalwood, ylang-ylang, orange blossom, geranium, sandalwood and Roman chamomile all have the soothing properties you need. Find the aroma you like, then breathe it directly from its container, diffuse it or rub some on your neck or beneath your nose so you can smell it as you go through your day.
Your diet might be contributing to your feelings of stress. One obvious candidate to cut from your daily menu would be coffee — the energy-boosting drink can cause anxiety when you drink too much. It’s not all about what you sip, of course. What you eat can also help you feel less jittery and calmer.
Comfort foods kickstart the production of soothing serotonin in the brain. On the other hand, we can ingest foods that reduce cortisol, which is the hormone made by the body when it’s under stress. One example of a stress-fighting food is nuts, which contain high levels of healthy fats. These fats not only protect the heart and ward off diabetes, but they also help defend your body against the negative side effects of stress. Add nuts, as well as complex carbs, spinach, oranges and avocado, to your diet to ward off stress naturally.
Lean on Your Social Circle
Family and friends can help you fight stress, whether they’re aware you’re feeling frazzled or not. Simply spending time with loved ones will make you feel like you belong and boost your sense of self-worth — both sentiments can help fight stress. In women especially, social connections help the body create oxytocin, which is an all-natural stress reliever. On top of that, both men and women have lower levels of anxiety and depression when they have friends around. Keep your connections strong and you’ll feel better.
The same goes for pets. If you have a dog or cat, spending some quality time together can keep you smiling in spite of the challenges you face. Interacting with a four-legged friend helps the body produce oxytocin, too. Plus, a dog will have you outside on walks, and any pet will give you a sense of companionship. Both exercise and socializing help fight stress, and your furbaby will deliver it in a one-two punch.
Many people rely on yoga to help them de-stress, and for a very good reason! A regular yoga practice fortifies your mind and body connection. Sometimes, yogis become so in tune with themselves they can fight stress and anxiety as effectively as they could with medication.
Experts believe yoga has a direct effect on the central nervous system, as well as on the body’s stress response. As it lowers your blood pressure and cortisol levels, you feel much less tension.
Avoid Stress Naturally
What makes you feel great? That might be the best place to start in your search for all-natural remedies to stress. If you can’t find the right solution, then try these five ideas, all of which have worked well for countless others. Grab a yoga mat, breathe some essential oils or take your dog for a walk — no matter what step you choose, you will be helping yourself find calm with only nature’s help.