Stress is the silent killer that dangerously lurks around every corner. Most people deal with a level of stress that the human body was not intended to sustain. Stress, and your body’s reaction to it, is primal. It was intended to keep you safe in times of extreme peril, such as when confronted by a physical aggressor while hunting for food or fighting off wild animals trying to get into your home.
Luckily those days are long gone.
Despite facing fewer dangerous situation on a daily, basis, stress is still a very big concern. In fact, 75-90% of all doctors visits are related to symptoms caused by stress. Instead of fighting off bears or searching for food, today our stress comes in non-physical forms, such as emotional stress, financial stress, and work-related stress. When you experience this stress, your body has a physical reaction that has negative impacts on your health, including higher blood pressure, increased cholesterol, strain on body organs, digestive issues, and more.
Knowing this, how do you reduce your stress in order to stay healthy and have a much happier life? Instead of opting directly for prescription medication, consider trying some natural stress remedies instead. Here are 10 natural ways to relieve stress.
10 Natural Stress Relievers You Can Try Today
1. Get Some Exercise
Exercise releases endorphins that act as natural painkillers and help to improve your ability to sleep. This is in addition to the obvious benefits of keeping your body and organs in shape.
Exercise does not have to mean heading to the gym every day. Rather, there fun options for exercise you might want to try:
- Running has been picking up in popularity over the last few years, and is a very easy to join community activity. You don’t have to be an iron man either. Just grab a pair of shoes, and go for a jog. The important thing is to maintain your heart rate for at least 30 minutes.
- Yoga is not something most people would associate with exercise, unless of course they are avid yoga practitioners. Sometimes slowing down, focusing on your breathing and really stretching your body is an incredibly effective way to get exercise.
- Walking is a low impact option for getting exercise, and is generally acceptable for most people. Even if you cannot run, a brisk walk can be enough to increase your heart rate and release your endorphins.
- There are also no-impact pedal exercisers, which can be used for either your arms or your feet. These are a great option for people who have challenges with their knees or hips, and need another option to get their heart rate up and reduce their stress.
2. Improve Your Diet
Did you know that most people are on the verge of being malnourished? It is not that we are not getting enough calories to eat, but rather that we are not getting the correct nutrients from those calories to help your body function properly. According to surveys from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 33% of adults eat the recommended amount of fruit. And only 27% are getting in enough vegetables.
When your body is not working properly, it negatively affects how your mind works and your ability to handle stress.
Knowing this, we understand why it is important to get a good multivitamin. You want to look for a whole plant based multivitamin, meaning that the vitamins and minerals it contains are not produced synthetically. You also want to be sure that your vitamins are sourced form organic plants, so that you are not causing additional stress to your body by polluting it with toxins it does not know how to handle.
In addition to a multivitamin, B-complex vitamins offer many benefits including assisting in reducing stress. This is because B-complex vitamins help with a couple of issues that oftentimes increase stress.
First, as most people know, B-complex vitamins help to boost energy. When you feel like your energy is dragging and you are having difficulty focusing, it can increase your stress, especially work related stress. Second, B-complex helps improve mood. B vitamins play a critical role in the formation of serotonin, the happy hormone. Studies have shown the happier you are, the less stress you feel. Of course, then it is the inevitable question of which came first.
Here’s a list of the top vitamins for natural stress relief.
3. Change Your Lifestyle
Your lifestyle may be one of the biggest influences on your stress. Many people who suffer from high stress also are very busy, leave little time for sleep, and leave very little room for recreation. This can be a huge detriment to your ability to deal with stress. Here are some tips for how to tweak your lifestyle that will also help reduce your stress:
- Eat Breakfast. Too many people skip the most important meal of the day. Breakfast helps to kick start your metabolism and get the all of your systems working properly. Skipping it starts your day without the energy you need and puts your mind body at a disadvantage to dealing the stress of the day.
- Get the right amount of sleep. The average adult should get between 7.5-9 hours of sleep each day. Fortunately, that does not mean that you need to get that amount of sleep all in one setting, but can split it with a nap if needed. The major thing to consider here are the sleep cycles, and ensuring you are not only getting the right amount of sleep but also the right amount of REM sleep specifically.
- Get outside into nature. Nature has a tendency to help uplift your mental state. Part of the reason for this is the extra oxygen in the air when you are out in nature. The extra oxygen helps your system to function better, and helps stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, promoting a sense of calm throughout your body.
4. Adaptogenic Herbs & Essential Oils
Herbal stress relief is a practice that was around long before modern medicine. Many plants have a calming effect on people, and can have other substantial health benefits. Regular use of these herbs and plants, especially in the form of essential oils, helps to promote a sense of calm throughout your body. This includes chamomile, which many people enjoy in teas, as well as lavender, hops, valerian, lemon balm, and passionflower. They work as natural calming remedies and also provide wonderful fragrances that will leave your house smelling amazing, trust us.
These, plus adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandga, maca and ginseng, naturally relieve stress by reducing the effects cortisol (the primary stress hormone) has on your body.
Meditation has been around for centuries, and for good reason. While stress can manifest itself physically, a majority of it has to do with your ability to mentally deal with the stressors that occur in your life. Meditation helps with this because it allows you to calm your mind and find peace.
Meditation is a great form of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). With technology and the overall fast-paced society we live in, it’s easy to go on auto-pilot and become less aware of your surroundings or the present moment. Mindfulness is the practice of reconnecting with your conscious mind and simply be present. It can literally change your brain. And through meditation, you’re able to really channel your thoughts and become fully aware of what’s happening in your body and mind.
The best part about natural stress relief mediation is you can do it anywhere. You don’t have to go to a fancy yoga studio or enroll in an eight week course. Thanks to apps like Headspace and plenty of videos on YouTube, you can get started with guided meditation at no cost at all. All you need is a place to sit uninterrupted. Although we do recommend picking up a meditation cushion to make yourself more comfortable.
It only takes 10-15 minutes of meditation a day to experience natural stress relief, so it’s well worth the effort.
6. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a therapeutic treatment that has shown to relieve many physical and mental conditions such as anxiety, stress, addiction, insomnia, depression and more. So what exactly is CBT?
CBT a form of therapy that focusses on looking at the thought processes of patients and helping them to deconstruct those thoughts using “cognitive restructuring”. In other words, it’s a way of training your mind to reframe the you perceive events in your life. Remember, stress is a reaction to a perceived threat. So if you can train your mind to realize that some things simply aren’t threatening, your body won’t react as adversely.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you get stressed whenever you have to speak in public. You get frightened at the idea of everybody staring at you and you worry you’ll embarrass yourself. Through CBT, you’d try to alter your train of thought to think of public speaking as an opportunity to showcase your knowledge and present an idea you worked on. While it’s easier said than done, getting achieving that mental switch can be a powerful form of natural stress relief, particularly for internal stressors.
Acupuncture is a great way to naturally relieve some of the physical conditions caused by stress. Whether it’s an immunological disease, infertility or even headaches, acupuncture has been shown to improve your cardiovascular and immune systems and help cellular immuno-responses.
Additionally, acupuncture also improves cardiovascular disease by regulating the nervous system. This improves your blood pressure, hormone stimulation and blood circulation, which all contribute to a healthy cardiovascular system. If you’ve never tried it before, find an acupuncture clinic near you and setup an appointment. You might be surprised by how much natural stress relief you can achieve with the help of this ancient Chinese medical practice.
One of the worst things you can do when you’re stressed out is internalize your emotions or cut yourself off from society. As Jonathan Fields describes in his book, How to Live a Good Life, human beings are social creatures that need community to thrive. By isolating yourself during stressful periods, you open yourself up to spiral down a path of anxiety and depression.
You don’t necessarily have to go out to a party of surround yourself with huge crowds, particularly if you’re more introverted. But something as small as spending time with a friend once or twice a week can go a long way towards improving your mood and and relieving your stress.
9. Get Out in Nature
With smartphones, the internet, video streaming and all the other conveniences of modern technology, it seems like there’s fewer reasons than ever to just stay indoors. However, remember what we said in the beginning about stress being a primal instinct? Well, another primal part of being a human is the necessity to be outdoors.
Even though it might not seem like it sometimes, humans are not meant to spend as much time indoors as we do. On average, people only spend 1-2 hours outdoors per day during the summer. So you can only imagine how much that drops during colder months. All that time means we don’t get enough sunlight or natural air. And studies have shown being outdoors can improve your mood, boost your vitamin D, help you sleep better and protect you from environmental stressors.
Natural stress relief doesn’t get much more natural than being outdoors in nature!
10. Start Journaling
If you really want to manage your stress naturally, it’s very helpful to identify your stress triggers as well as track your emotions throughout the week. A journal is simple way to do this because it gives you the chance to reflect on stressful events. Often times we take on stress as it comes throughout the day and just let it pile on. Then we don’t address it and it rolls over to the next day and the process keeps repeating. Until eventually, you let it all out by venting to a friend, or in an inappropriate moment when you’ve let all your frustrations boil over.
There’s a big difference between coping with stress and hiding it. Unfortunately most of us hide stress and pretend everything’s ok because it’s easier than facing the problem head on in many cases.
With a journal, you give yourself the opportunity to write down everything that happened throughout the day or week. That way you’re getting it out instead of letting it fester in your mind for weeks or months. Journaling doesn’t have to be all negative though. If you had a particularly good day, take note of that as well. After a while, you’ll be able to start identifying patterns and hopefully learn how to better cope with stressful situations when they arise.
In addition to journaling, you might also benefit from planning ahead as well. So often stress comes as a result of not being prepared or forgetting responsibilities. Using a daily planner, an app or calendar to track important dates and to-do’s can be just the natural stress reliever you need.
So there you have it, 10 ways to reduce stress naturally. The next time you’re feeling stressed out, don’t go straight to the doctor. Try these natural stress relief techniques instead!