You generally hear things like: make sure you get enough activity daily, take time to breathe, journal, spend time in nature, and the list goes on. De-stressing is an excellent idea for everyone and should be something practiced regularly. But is it difficult to reduce stress and anxiety? Turns out, it doesn’t have to be.
What stress is and how our body reacts?
Stress is a physiological response to external or internal stimuli. Whether it’s being overloaded with work, a bad breakup, or simply food intolerance, we’ve all experienced stress in one way or another.
When we experience a moment of stress, the brain undergoes both physical and chemical changes that alter the way it functions. This causes the release of certain neurotransmitters and hormones (namely epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine) that alert the body that something is going on.
From there, our body goes into full-on fight-or-flight mode and is ready for battle. Our heart rate and breathing rate increase, our blood pressure rises, and our body shuts down any processes and systems that aren’t vital to survival (reproductive, immune, digestive, etc.). Short-term stress isn’t bad because our body adapts pretty quickly to it, but problems arise when we’re chronically stressed.
So why is stress relief so important? If left unmanaged, stress can cause a whole slew of problems for the body, both physically and psychologically.
Here is a list of some of the issues it can cause:
- Tension headaches
- Muscle aches
- Poor digestion
- Constipation and/or diarrhea
- Increased blood pressure
- Rapid breathing
- Lack of focus
- Poor memory
- Feelings of insecurity, anger, depression
- Relationship conflict
- Lack of motivation
Based on this list, stress doesn’t seem very positive, both for your mind and body, right?
Well, the good news is, we’ve compiled a list of things you can do (pretty much from anywhere you want) to help you relax and control your stress levels.
How to reduce stress and anxiety?
1. Set reasonable expectations for what you want to achieve each day.
- Getting things ticked off your to-do list will give you a sense of accomplishment and peace of mind. It keeps you going and motivated that you can get things done.
2. Expose yourself to as much natural light as possible.
- Getting a little bit of vitamin D does the body wonders. Not only does it help to boost your mood, but it’s crucial to several different functions that keep our body’s running optimally
3. Supplement with rhodiola rosea.
- A well-known adaptogen, Rhodiola is great for balancing cortisol levels (our stress hormone) and increasing energy levels. It also fights fatigue and boosts mood!
4. Listen to calming music.
- Studies have shown music therapy to be incredibly helpful in dealing with stress. It can alter brain waves that help to calm the body and mind, slow breathing and heart rate, and even activate the body’s relaxation response.
5. Practice deep breathing.
- Breathing exercises are a great way to relax the muscles and quiet the mind by providing oxygen and energy to every cell. And bonus, they can be done anywhere.
- Taking deep breathing a step further, meditation is another way to relax the body and mind. It’s been proven that over time, meditation increases your resilience to stress.
7. Practice gratitude journaling.
- Set a reminder upon waking to write down (or even just on your phone) three things that you are grateful for today, and why you are grateful for them. Try this practice for two weeks and notice how it changes your perspective.
8. Get out into nature more often.
- Studies have shown that getting outdoors can make us calmer and happier.
9. Exercise or move.
- If you’ve ever had a rough day, you know getting yourself to the gym can take the edge off. But it doesn’t even have to be a gym — try going for a brisk walk outside, gentle stretching, or simply just dancing around. See how a little bit of movement can distract your mind from stressful situations.
10. Massage on some essential oils.
- Not only do they smell amazing, but essential oils also have many properties that help to relax the body and reduce stress. Try this combination if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed: 2 drops geranium essential oil, 2 drops clary sage essential oil, 1 drop patchouli essential oil, 1 drop ylang-ylang essential oil.
Next time you’re feeling stressed, remember these 10 tips and try to implement one or more of them.
Stress is a natural part of life and we’re not saying to avoid it completely because let’s face it, that’s just not realistic. But there are several things you can do to build your resilience to stress and manage those stressful times when they appear.