(Updated September 2016)
You face stressful situations every day – at work, at home, on the road, in the store – literally everywhere. While not all stress you face is necessarily bad, allowing yourself to become overwhelmed with anxieties can be detrimental to your health. According to Wikipedia, “three diseases that are influenced by stress are clinical depression, cardiovascular disease, and human immunodeficiency virus.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stress_(psychological))
Fortunately, there are many natural ways to reduce your stress. In turn, this will make you feel better and protect you from being at high risk for several preventable health problems. Use these 10 natural stress reducers to improve your life today.
1 – Exercise
Getting up, moving your body, and working up a sweat is a proven way to naturally reduce your stress. How?
- Quiet Time: Exercise lets you enjoy some time alone with your thoughts. If a long work day has you anxiously preparing for a new project or family problems are making you stressed, taking some time to exercise will help clear your head and calm you down.
- Endorphin Release: Your brain releases endorphins as you work out which puts you in a better mood naturally.
You do not have to become a body builder or a marathon runner to enjoy the stress relieving benefits of exercise. Do whatever you enjoy best – running, swimming, Tai Chi, yoga, cycling – and you will be sure to feel your stress melt away.
2 – Balanced Diet
Junk food has negative effects on the body that go beyond just your weight. Eating a balanced diet that includes many fruits and vegetables will allow you to consume all the nutrients your body needs. This kind of diet will help you stay healthy and keep you in a better mood, thus avoiding the unpleasant mood swings that junk food can sometimes cause.
3 – Good Sleep
Getting plenty of sleep every night is critical to controlling your stress. Insomnia is a major cause of anxiety and psychological stress. If you have trouble getting the recommended 6-8 hours of sleep every night, consider these tips:
- Turn off all your electronic devices and screens one hour before you go to bed.
- Avoid exercise or heavy meals for a few hours before your bedtime.
- Snack on peanuts, figs, bananas, and other foods that contain tryptophans.
4 – Passionflower
The passionflower grows in Brazil, Argentina, and parts of the southeastern United States. It has long been used to calm the nerves and enjoy an overall tranquility. What are the benefits of using stress relief products that include this floral ingredient?
- Relieve Many Symptoms of Stress: You can find a variety of dietary supplements that include passionflower extract. Tablets, capsules, and powders containing this ingredient are helpful in fighting anxiety, sleep disorders, and nervous tension.
- Non-addicitive: Unlike some medication for sleep disorders or stress reduction, studies have shown that passionflower does not lead to addiction or dependency.
- Minimal Side Effects: One study analyzed the effects of using passionflower extract to treat generalized anxiety disorder. It was reported that the extract was as effective as the drug oxazepam, but with far fewer side effects. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passionflower#Medical_and_entheogenic_uses)
5 – Chamomile Tea
Millions of cups of tea are brewed and sipped all over the world each day. While you should avoid caffeine when trying to relax, chamomile tea has been shown to help reduce stress. Two species of chamomile contain apigenin, a compound that produces effects a lot like those of pharmaceutical tranquilizers. Of course, sipping on a warm cup of chamomile will not lead to all the unpleasant side effects of many anxiety medications.
6 – B Vitamins
The benefits of B vitamins for stress reduction are well known. Your brain depends on a combination of core B vitamins to function properly and limit fatigue. If you have a deficiency of these important nutrients, you may experience irritability and depression, both of which will only exacerbate your stress problem. To get more B vitamins in your diet, try the following:
- Dietary supplements and vitamins for anxiety that contain B vitamins
- Whole grain cereals
7 – Aromatherapy
Many different cultures around the world have used aromatherapy for centuries to control their stress levels and relax their nerves. In some cases, you can begin to experience stress reduction immediately after inhaling a specific scent. Scents that stimulate the limbic system can produce a variety of reactions in the brain, including calmness and tranquility. Try using essential oils with scents like:
8 – St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort is used by many individuals to help with overcoming depression. Its benefits do not end there, however. Regular use for four to six weeks has shown positive results for reducing anxiety and improving mood. Consider taking stress relief pills that combine St. John’s Wort with other natural ingredients known to fight depression and improve your mood.
9 – Calming Music
Music has incredible power on the mind and can help wash away your stress when you are feeling anxious. Putting on a relaxation CD as you drive through bad traffic will help you keep stress under control. Classical music is also known to help your mind focus thanks to studies showing that students who listen to classical music regularly do better on tests. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_music#Commercialization)
10 – Massage
Stress does not just affect your mood; it can also cause physical tension that leads to pain. When you are feeling stressed out, a relaxing massage can help work out the physical evidence of your anxiety and tension. Combining a relaxing massage with aromatherapy and calming music will heighten the effects of each natural stress reduction technique.
There is no way to totally eliminate stress from your life. But you can use these natural stress reducer suggestions to help your days calmer, more pleasant, and less stressful.