It's sad to say that feelings of stress and anxiety are actually considered "normal" these days. In fact, 70% of all U.S. adults say they experience stress and anxiety on a regular basis. Stress can come in a variety of forms and affect our lives in a number of different ways. Stress is how our body responds to any change that needs an answer or an adaptation. Anxiety is your body's natural response to stress. Too much stress and anxiety without care can be detrimental to your health and overall well-being. In this article, we are going to uncover 10 amazing natural stress relief tips. Let's begin with stress relief tip number 1, exercise.
Exercise is one of the best things you can do to help reduce stress and anxiety, naturally and therefore, comes in at number one on our 10 amazing natural stress relief tips. Studies show that those who exercise on a regular basis are less likely to experience stress and anxiety than those who do not. Additionally, during exercise, the body produces endorphins which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and mood boosters. Regular exercise has also shown the ability to improve sleep quality and duration which is another viable option for stress relief.
All in all, regular exercise is not only our most effective stress relief tip but can also make you feel happier, improve energy levels and sex drive, reduce your risk of chronic disease, help brain health and memory, improve sleep quality and duration, reduce physical, emotional, and mental pain, help with weight loss, and so much more. Let's move on to our second amazing natural stress relief tip—meditation.
Barbara Fredrickson who is a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill discussed in one of her many remarkable papers that people who meditate daily display more positive emotions (joy, love, excitement, etc.) than those who do not. For example, three months after the experiment was over she concluded, "those who meditated on a regular basis continued to display an increase in mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, and also a decrease in illness symptoms." Meditation is certainly a practice you should adopt if you are trying to find ways to reduce stress and anxiety, naturally while simultaneously improving your mood.
If you have never tried meditation before, there are quite a few great introductory meditation-videos like this one here. Let's continue on with stress relief tip number three—inhale...exhale.
Anxiety and stress activate your sympathetic nervous system which then signals your body to go into "fight-or-flight" also known as survival mode. This leads to a faster heartbeat, quicker breathing, and constricted blood vessels. Taking deep breaths helps you activate your parasympathetic nervous system which controls relaxation response, decreasing your heart rate and allowing you to feel more peaceful. Inhale.....exhale and repeat that slow and controlled five times.
When you were younger and upset and your mom or dad told you to take deep breathes and relax, that was actually pretty good advice. Next time you are feeling particularly anxious, stressed, or even overwhelmed, center yourself, close your eyes, and take five slow and controlled deep breaths. This stress relief tip can not only be done anytime, anywhere but is also quick, effective, and easy to do. Onto stress relief tip number four we go—take it outside.
When you are anxious or stressed one of the best things you can do is take it outside and walk it out. Get moving, get your blood flowing, step into life and out of thought. Observe the beauty around you. Hear the birds chirp or wind howl, look at the insects on the ground or the birds in the sky. Become totally immersed by the nature that surrounds you. Allow life to take your worries away.
Exhale all negative thoughts that you may be having and visualize those thoughts being picked up by the wind and being pushed away never to return again. Nature is and will always be one of the most effective and enjoyable ways to reduce stress and anxiety.
Aromatherapy has been used for thousands of years and is the holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being. It is beginning to gain more and more recognition in the fields of science and medicine. These natural substances are known to have both physical and psychological benefits.
A 2014 study published in the journal Biomedical Research International showed that a four-week aromatherapy program for the elderly with chronic pain was effective in reducing levels of depression, anxiety, and stress. Essential oil examples include:
A separate study on stress and aromatherapy intervention efficacy was done with 10 female college freshman. The aim of the study was to investigate the effectiveness of aromatherapy as an effective stress relief option for college students. Outcome measures were rated on a 1-10 scale, with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the greatest levels of anxiety and stress relief, improved sleep quality, and a reduction in muscle tension.
The group treated with aromatherapy reported lower levels of stress and anxiety and increased levels of sleep quality and energy. The control group, the group that was not treated with aromatherapy, reported higher levels of anxiety and stress and decreased levels of sleep quality and duration. The results of the study suggest aromatherapy may be an effective stress relief option for those struggling with high levels of stress and anxiety.
A study published in the Journal of Research in Personality examined a group of 90 graduate students who were split into two groups. Group 1 wrote about an intensely positive experience each day for three consecutive days. Group 2, however, would write about a control topic. Three months later, Group 1, who wrote about positive experiences each day had much better mood levels, fewer visits to the health center, and experienced fewer illnesses as a whole. Yes, just three consecutive days of writing about positive experiences had an effect on them for months!
Another separate study recruited 71 healthy individuals, aged 19 to 77, and randomly allocated them to one of two groups. One group (37 participants) was asked to write about the most wonderful experience of their life for 20 minutes a day for three consecutive days. The other group (34 participants), was told to write about a neutral topic—such as their plans for the rest of the day. Levels of anxiety were reported by the participants before and after they completed their writing assignments.
The results showed a significant decrease in stress and anxiety levels for those who wrote about "the most wonderful experience of their life" compared to those who wrote about a neutral topic. The study also concluded that "writing about happy moments was effective regardless of the levels of distress that people reported at the beginning of the study."
Writing about positive experiences has shown to be an effective option for natural stress relief and is often associated with lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. So get out that journal and write, write, write!
There are a number of stress relief supplements that are not only safe and effective but are also non-addictive, natural, and backed by science. Below is a list of the most effective and proven stress relief supplements.
Yoga is an amazing practice that has the ability to decrease the secretion of cortisol, which is known as the primary stress hormone. In one study, that included 131 people who did yoga for 10 weeks found that those who participated had reduced stress and anxiety levels compared to those who did not participate.
Additional benefits of yoga include:
Gratitude helps you recognize all the things—big or small—that you have to be grateful for. Whether it be the cup of coffee you had with breakfast, the salad you had, or are having for lunch, your family, or even that you have to ability to pursue your dreams each day—whatever it may be, find a couple of things to be grateful for each day.
Research shows that grateful individuals enjoy better mental and physical health, including lower levels of stress and anxiety and lower levels of depression. Find a couple of things to be grateful for each day. Internalize it, think about it, understand that you are breathing, you are loved, and are doing great. Make expressing gratitude a daily habit and become aware of the anxiety and stress relief associated with it.
As much as you may do it, procrastination is not beneficial to you or your overall well-being. Set goals, create a to-do list, knock it off, and activate the reward center of your brain, dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that is produced by our brains and acts as encouraging (the) behavior. This is why we do what we do. When something feels good, we want to repeat this behavior and do it over and over again. Dopamine is released in the brain during satisfying experiences, like accomplishing your incremental goals, in order to get you to repeat said behaviors. This is also what happens during sex, when we eat certain foods, exercise, and take certain drugs.
Set a timer and work on things that need to be completed today or better yet, plan in advance as much as you can. Allow yourself intervals of uninterrupted time and avoid immediately switching from task-to-task which can be stressful in its own right and lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety.
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