Here are 8 Natural Ways to Relieve Stress.
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We all experience stress, but we also know how much better off we’d be physically and mentally if we could manage it and find effective stress relievers. While there are times when stress can be a good motivator (like when you’re under pressure to perform well at work or ace an important exam), more and more research indicates that chronic stress has negative effects on the body that are comparable to those of poor eating habits, sleep deprivation, and sedentary lifestyles.
Would you believe that conditions brought on by stress account for between 75% and 90% of all doctor visits? How exactly does stress harm our health in so many different ways? How exactly does stress harm our health in so many different ways? It mostly comes down to hormonal changes, which cause an uptick in inflammation and a host of other issues.
Chronic stress is dangerous and can raise a person’s risk for heart disease, diabetes, weight gain or obesity, mental disorders, autoimmune diseases, digestive disorders, and even cancer. Uncontrolled stress experienced over an extended period of time is referred to as “chronic stress.” Since the stress we experience today isn’t going away, finding natural stress relief methods that are effective for us is more crucial than ever. According to studies, making more time in your busy schedule for activities like regular exercise, meditation, and quality time with loved ones can be very beneficial.
Stress Levels Are Higher Today
More people than ever before report having negative experiences on a daily basis, including physical discomfort, anxiety, sadness, stress, and anger, in many parts of the world. What’s making everyone feel so tense and exhausted? According to a number of studies and polls, the following are some of the main causes of stress and mental illness, according to the American Institute of Stress:
- Worries about the economy and finances
- Health issues and issues relating to healthcare
- Dislike for how the government is performing and concern for politics
- Anxiety over recent events, including societal and natural ones like terrorism, racial tensions, and mass shootings
- Use of social media and other technology-related stress
- Loneliness and depression feelings
Almost every system in the body, including the musculoskeletal system, respiratory system, cardiovascular system, endocrine system, digestive system, nervous system, and both female and male reproductive systems, is known to be adversely impacted by stress. Continuing stress can cause discomfort and disease in the following ways:
- causes migraines and tension headaches
- fatigue and makes it harder to fall asleep (even adrenal fatigue)
- cause overeating and weight gain, sporadic eating patterns, or IBS or stomachaches that cause you to skip meals.
- makes it more likely that individuals will favor sedentary pursuits and refrain from exercise
- can exacerbate obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and asthma. Can cause social isolation, loneliness, and poor relationships.
Chronic Stress: What Is It?
The type of stress known as chronic stress interferes with your ability to carry out daily tasks for an extended period of time, such as more than six months. Although chronic stress can affect people of any age, it’s believed that young and middle-aged adults between the ages of 15 and 49 are most likely to experience it. Due to issues like violence, political unrest, poor finances, and poor health, “Generation Z” is widely regarded as the generation with the highest levels of stress in industrialized countries, while “Millennials” experience the highest levels of anxiety, loneliness, and depression.
Do people who experience chronic stress always recognize it? No, not always. Making the connection between stress in one’s life and symptoms like pain and mental fog is not always simple. People frequently struggle to pinpoint the precise reason behind their worry, anger, overwhelm, or depressive feelings.
Chronic stress causes the body to secrete more “stress hormones” like cortisol, a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands and belonging to the larger class of steroids known as glucocorticoids. The effects of elevated stress hormone levels on numerous bodily processes are long-lasting.
The eight strategies listed below will help you manage your stress more effectively on a daily basis.
1. Exercise and yoga
Exercise is one of the best stress relievers we have because it releases endorphins, which are like the body’s natural painkillers and mood enhancers. Exercise is also a natural anxiety remedy. According to research, people who are inactive appear to have stress’s negative physical effects magnified, a condition known as the “stress-induced/exercise deficient” phenotype. Regular exercise is protective because it controls numerous metabolic and psychological processes in the body, including reinforcing our natural circadian rhythms, sleep/wake cycles, moods, and blood sugar levels. This is important because we respond to stress by experiencing changes in our neuro-endocrine systems.
Exercise increases insulin sensitivity, can increase hunger awareness, boosts self-esteem and confidence, improves mental processing, and lowers the risk of depression. Lacking sleep? Well, exercise can also help with that, which is crucial because the body needs quality sleep to restore itself and regulate hormones.
Similar advantages of yoga have been demonstrated, including strengthening the “mind-body connection,” enhancing how people (especially women) feel about their bodies, promoting restful sleep, and reducing anxiety. According to a review of more than 35 clinical studies testing the effects of regular yoga practice on stress levels and health, most people experience notable improvements in a range of physical and psychological health markers after beginning yoga.
Looking for a way to experience the advantages of exercise in a more profound way? Do it while uplifting music is playing. According to research, listening to music reduces psycho-biological stress, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, speeds up recovery, improves hormonal balance, and enhances general brain function.
Forest bathing is yet another fantastic method of stress reduction. By using your various senses—sight, hearing, smell, etc.—to immerse yourself in the aesthetically pleasing and health-promoting surroundings of a forest, you can practice forest bathing. Science has demonstrated that it can have a variety of positive effects on one’s health and is intended to be a very calming and peaceful experience. According to a study, the compounds in the tree can lower stress hormone levels in both men and women.
2. Meditation/Devotional Prayer
Both meditation and healing prayer are well-proven methods for reducing stress and promoting mental and emotional calm. The best part about them both is that you can practice them both at any time of day, in the comfort of your own home, and without the aid of a therapist, professional, or program, making them a no-brainer.
Although meditation and prayer have been used for countless generations to enhance well-being and connection with others, science is now also supporting these practices. Natural stress relief Mindfulness-based stress reduction and meditation are two examples of straightforward mental exercises that can be done once or twice a day for as little as 10-15 minutes to increase “mindfulness” and relieve stress or anxiety.
Other types of meditation have also been shown to reduce physiological reactions to stress, increase mental clarity, and aid in the treatment of a wide range of emotional and physical issues, including depression, anxiety, poor mental health that impairs quality of life, attention issues, substance abuse, sleep problems, pain, and weight gain.
Numerous stress-related conditions, such as psychiatric disorders, autoimmune or immunological diseases, infertility, anxiety, and depression, are now being treated with acupuncture more frequently. Researchers have discovered that acupuncture treatments alter the immune and cardiovascular systems, increasing the proliferation of protective T-cells and facilitating cellular immune responses.
Acupuncture helps regulate the nervous system, which has positive effects on blood pressure levels, circulation, hormones, and other factors, making it one of the best stress relievers for heart disease patients.
4. A Diet Rich in Nutrients
Essential vitamins, trace minerals, healthy fats, electrolytes, amino acids, and antioxidants all aid in improving how well your brain manages stress, which benefits your entire body. The following foods are among the most nutrient-dense for reducing stress naturally:
- B vitamin-rich foods include raw or cultured dairy products, cage-free eggs, grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, poultry, brewer’s yeast, and green leafy vegetables (which the body uses to convert nutrients into energy).
- Foods high in calcium and magnesium are essential for relaxing muscles, reducing headaches, and promoting sleep. Calcium and magnesium are also electrolytes that have a calming effect on the body. Try wild-caught salmon, organic unsweetened yogurt, beans and legumes, leafy green vegetables, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, avocados, and nuts.
- High-protein foods – foods high in protein supply the amino acids essential for healthy neurotransmitter function.
- Healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold-water, wild-caught fish like salmon and sardines that can help stabilise moods and reduce inflammation.
- Omega-3s are also excellent for the brain, growth, and heart health.
- Nuts and seeds, avocado, olive oil, and coconut oil are some additional sources of healthy fats that support brain health.
Contrarily, foods to avoid in order to reduce stress levels include:
- Packaged or sugary foods — processed, refined, or foods with added sugar can cause daylong swings in blood sugar levels, which can exacerbate anxiety, trigger cravings, and make you feel exhausted.
- Too much alcohol or caffeine can worsen anxiety, cause dehydration, interfere with sleep, leave you exhausted, and make it difficult for you to handle stress.
- Refined vegetable oils: Polyunsaturated fatty acid imbalances, or eating a diet high in omega-6s relative to omega-3s, are linked to metabolic damage, inflammation, and even poor gut health, which can impact mental function.
5. Using “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy” to Challenge Your Thoughts
It has been demonstrated that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) reduces anxiety, stress, and a variety of disorders, including addiction, eating disorders, insomnia, and depression. With the knowledge that chronic, untreated stress reactions account for at least 50% of the time that a mental disorder manifests, therapists use CBT to teach all types of people how to react to stressful situations more effectively.
CBT primarily focuses on challenging and altering your thoughts because how you interpret an event—rather than the event itself—determines how your body responds. You can work on altering how you think about events and consequently react to them once you have determined the fundamental thought pattern that is causing your harmful behaviors.
The concept behind CBT is that you can actually lessen the stress you experience as a result of an event if you can change the way you view it. For instance, instead of panicking about a job change, you might decide to embrace it, make the best preparations, and take advantage of the chance to start over.
CBT is helpful in teaching us to avoid internal sources of stress, such as “all-or-nothing” thinking, jumping to conclusions, pessimism, having unrealistic expectations for ourselves, constantly anticipating the worst-case scenario, and feeling guilt or shame over events that aren’t even our fault.
6. Spending more time outdoors and interacting with others
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Spending time with loved ones, getting outside, and engaging in activities you enjoy with family, friends, and your spouse are all effective ways to reduce stress and improve your health. Because it gives people perspective and makes them feel like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves, social connection is linked to longevity.
Similar effects of outside include boosting mood and making it simpler to get a good night’s sleep. Being outside also serves to remind people that they are a small part of a much larger universe.
Because they don’t take their full vacation time or because they are always on call, many American workers experience increased levels of work stress. Take advantage of your earned vacation time instead to give your body and mind a rest from work. The same rules apply to a full workday: get some fresh air, avoid eating lunch at your desk, avoid working past 5 p.m. if you started earlier, etc.
7. Maintaining a Journal
You can determine what’s causing stress by keeping track of your emotions, both positive and negative, as well as the situations that can cause them. Keeping a journal is a simple, efficient way to track your mental state throughout the day, pay attention to negative thoughts, and determine what’s really bothering you at any given moment.
By keeping you organized and listing out appointments, chores, work assignments, and other tasks, a journal can also help you feel less stressed and less likely to forget important deadlines.
8. Making use of essential oils and adaptogenic herbs
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It has been demonstrated that a number of adaptogenic herbs and essential oils can lessen the negative effects that stress and cortisol have on the body, thus easing the symptoms of anxiety. The class of medicinal plants known as adaptogens, which includes ginseng, ashwagandha, maca, Rhodiola, holy basil, and cocoa, restores and protects the body by balancing hormones and physiological processes, and helps the body cope with stress.
Additionally, essential oils like bergamot, myrrh, frankincense, and lavender can improve hormone balance, reduce inflammation, boost immunity and help with sleep and digestion.