Today’s world is more stressful than ever. We’re all overbooked, unrested, super stressed and underpaid. The busy lives of American men, women and even children are causing stress and stress-related illness to run rampant. When it comes down to it we all need to take a big breath and chill out. Below are some natural and healthy ways to do just that.
The everyday stresses of work, children, commutes, money, family (and the list goes on and on) that we’re forced to face head on can wreak havoc on our bodies. Feelings of being overwhelmed by all of the demands placed on us can result in stress-related illnesses. According to naturemade.com 75%-90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. Chronic levels of stress or tension can reduce the body’s ability to cope well under stress and can cause illness. Below are 7 natural stress busters that you may want to integrate into your daily life to keep stress and tension at bay.
1. Proper Fueling- If you reach for a quick sugar or caffeine boost when you feel your energy start to wane, you’re not alone. Coffee and/or candy can offer a quick energy boost but often leads to that inevitable energy crash that can further compound your body’s physical stress. It’s important to make sure that you’re regularly fueling your body and with the right type of fuel. Instead of that third cup of coffee or leftover doughnut try snacking on a slice of whole-grain bread topped with peanut butter and raisins or some yogurt. Health experts recommend refueling the body every 3 to 4 hours in order to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and keep stress in check.
2. A Good Night’s Sleep- By not getting adequate or regular amounts of sleep your body becomes sleep deprived leading to poor concentration, memory and daily performance. These negative effects can quickly become physical stressors. To ensure that your sleep is effective try going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday. Create a healthy schedule for your body. It’s also a good idea to avoid eating a big meal before bed or drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages before bed. These will stimulate your body and keep you from catching your precious zzz’s. Before going to bed try a relaxing activity like a warm bath, reading or listening to soft music to make you more drowsy.
Certain dietary supplements can play an important role in promoting sleep according to naturemade.com. L-theanine (an amino acid found in green tea) has been shown in human studies to promote a relaxed mental state and to increase the production of alpha waves in the brain. The result is that L-theanine helps to reduce anxiety and promotes a state of relaxation without drowsiness.
Vitamins B6 and B12 are needed for the production of serotonin – the “feel good” brain messenger, and the important mineral magnesium promotes healthy muscle relaxation. Herbs that can help with sleep include chamomile, which exerts a mild sedative-like effect, and lavender oil, which has relaxing properties and can be added to a bath or directly to the skin.
3. Take a deep breath- When somebody is stressed or scared their breathing often becomes shallow and rapid. When this happens, the diaphragm is not used properly and the breathing is solely from the chest and does not incorporate the abdomen. Less oxygen is then available to the body, including your brain. This results in a lack of clear thinking and inevitably more stress. When you find yourself breathing quickly and shallowly in a stressful situation take a few deep breaths- center and calm yourself and try to exhale the stress.
4. Movement and Exercise- A workout or a brisk 30-minute walk can help you de-stress after a busy day. Regular and moderate exercise can help promote physical and mental well-being. Exercise stimulates positive brain chemicals that often leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. Try taking a walk outside, getting fresh air and being in the sunshine can stimulate your senses after a stressful day. And by the way, movement and exercise will also result in looking and feeling better which can also help stress levels.
5. Read a Good Book or Go to the Movies- Books and movies are a great escape and instant de-stressors. Let the characters and situations distract you from your own worries and stresses. Disengaging your mind for a while can give you a different perspective and clearer insight once you’re ready to again face reality.
6. Adjust your Mindset- Going through life confident of the fact that you’re doing your best every day can often take the stress out of specific outcomes. Staying positive in your mind is that best way to channel positivity into the rest of your life, which transitions into Tip #7 perfectly….
7. Smile- Try holding a big smile (you know, the kind that makes your mouth hurt?) for 5 minutes and see what happens. It’s hard to feel stressed while you’re smiling. It makes you more approachable and might just change your whole day.
Whether you choose to read that book that you’ve been meaning to get to, head outside to walk the dog, or plaster a smile on your face, by selecting a couple of these de-stressing strategies you’ll be able to naturally settle your nerves and deal with the stresses that are inevitable in our lives.