Stress affects everybody and results in health problems. Natural stress relievers could include exercise, a balanced diet, practicing mindfulness, practicing gratitude, supplements, avoiding procrastination, and learning to say no.
It is estimated that 70% of adult Americans exhibit anxiety and stress symptoms every day. Over-the-counter drugs for stress and anxiety relief are on the rise, with some leading to drug overdependence and addiction. Stress can be caused by minor challenges such as daily hustles to major crises like job loss or divorce. Stress can negatively affect one’s well-being if it is chronic, promoting the need for stress relievers to help calm the mind and body. Stress causes the body to exhibit various symptoms such as increased heart rate and blood pressure, negative emotions such as fear and anger. Some positive changes in a person’s life, like getting a promotion or expecting a baby, could also increase stress levels. It is the body’s defence mechanism from hurt or unexpected events.
Ways to alleviate stress and anxiety
Apart from over-the-counter drugs and therapy, several simple ways can help relieve stress with ease.
Subjecting physical stress to your body through exercise can help reduce mental stress. Studies show that individuals that exercise regularly are prone to less anxiety than those who scorn exercise. During exercise, the body lowers the production of stress hormones such as cortisol and enhances the production of endorphins- a chemical responsible for good moods. Individuals who exercise improve their sleep quality which in turn reduces anxiety and stress. Additionally, exercise promotes one’s confidence, making the individual competent and with enhanced mental well-being. Exercise can be in walking, jogging, and running, which involves the movement of group muscles for stress relief.
Consider eating a balanced diet
A poor diet can contribute to high-stress levels, especially high-carb and junk foods. Though emotional eating consisting of high-sugar foods can result in temporary stress relief, it results in obesity and overweight, which may cause long-term stress. A refined carbs diet causes sugar spike in the blood, which often contributes to stress and anxiety. Healthy foods lead to a balance energy production that promotes one’s mental well-being, thus relieving stress.
The pharmaceutical market is full of supplements that can help alleviate stress and anxiety. These supplements include:
Lemon balm– A plant product belonging to the mint family undergoing study for its anti-anxiety effects
Omega-3 fatty acids– Some studies associate it with a reduction in anxiety symptoms.
Ashwagandha– A herb often used as Ayurvedic medicine in ancient times for treating stress and anxiety.
Green tea– Containing polyphenol antioxidants and could enhance the production of serotonin hormone.
Valerian root– The supplement is a popular sleep aid and could lower anxiety.
Practice deep breathing
Increased stress levels push the body’s mechanisms by raising adrenaline to a fight or flight mode. The release of stress hormone during this period causes faster heartbeat, quick breathing, shortness of breath, and constricted blood vessels. Deep breathing affects the parasympathetic nervous system, resulting in a relaxed response. Focus your attention on the breathing process to make it deeper and slower, contributing to a slower heart rate and peaceful mind.
Reduced caffeine intake
Stimulants in tea, chocolate, coffee, and some energy drinks in high amounts could contribute to anxiety. If you notice that the amount of coffee you drink causes jittery and increases your anxiety level, consider reducing your daily intake.
Mindfulness is a process of bringing your mind to the present moment every time it tries to wonder. It could help alleviate stress and anxiety brought by a spiral of negative thinking. Mindfulness is done in various forms, such as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, meditation, and yoga. Some recent studies on college students showed that mindfulness could enhance self-esteem, which is known to remedy anxiety and depression symptoms.
Listen to some soothing music
Listening to slow-paced music can help lower blood pressure, stress hormones, and heart rate. Some Indian music, classical, and Celtic songs can be very soothing. You could also choose to listen to any music you love to attain a soothing result. Listening to the nature-like sound, water streaming, or leaves moving can be very relaxing too.
Spending time with family and friends
Humans are social beings, which means spending time with people who love you can help get you through a stressful situation. Having family and friends promotes self-esteem and a sense of belonging that could help relieve anxiety. One study conducted on women found that spending time with children and friends enhanced oxytocin release, which is a natural stress reliever. Another study suggested that men and women with constricted social circles were prone to bouts of anxiety and depression.
Learn to say no
Practicing to say no is one to gain avoid the stress that you can control. Saying no more often would help individuals take in only what they could handle, thus minimizing unnecessary stress from a pile of work. Juggling many responsibilities can result in daunting stress and anxiety. Therefore, be selective on what responsibilities you shoulder while saying no to unnecessary loads that could take up your time and cause stress.
Staying on top of your priorities to ensure no task is piled can help reduce stress. Procrastination often causes people to be reactive as they scramble to catch up on the pilled activities. Playing catch-up can be a huge source of stress and could negatively impact one’s health and sleep. Avoiding procrastination needs planning with the creation of a to-do list with prioritized activities. Ensure you allow yourself realistic deadlines to avoid self-pressure as you accomplish your tasks.
Gratitude helps you pay attention to what you have and is thankful for rather than things you don’t have. Gratitude could also help you focus on the resources you have to deal with stress, contributing to stress relief. Studies agree that people who practice gratitude have lower stress levels, better health, and improved quality of life. Writing some three things you are grateful for daily could be a good practice to improve your general well-being.
Laughter is medicine is a common phrase, and it is true. It is not possible to laugh and feel anxious at the same time. Laughing can boost one’s health by alleviating stress response and relieve muscle tension. A study on people with cancer suggested that a group with laughter intervention exhibited more stress relief than those with only distraction.
The bottom line
Stress is a common problem, be it in normal personal life or work-related life. However, there are several simple ways you can implement to experience stress relief. Most of these mechanisms involve changing the focus of your attention from stress stimulants to other things.