It’s understandable if stress has become a part of your everyday life. Many of the natural, social remedies we are accustomed to either remain closed or cause anxieties of their own, now that the physical spaces are reopening. Our traditional stress relievers – yoga studios, gyms, spas and social venues have changed – and we are collectively discovering how to cope with that. Whether you have adapted your habits to a virtual method, or are incorporating more natural stress-relief remedies into your daily regime, we commend you for continuing your efforts in reducing anxiety and stress. In efforts to help you battle stress and reduce anxiety, we’ve compiled five easy, at-home ways to reduce stress naturally.
While stress eating is a well known habit, anti-stress eating is also a concept, and a much healthier alternative. A food’s nutritional composition is just as important as how it makes you feel when it comes to conquering stress. Chamomile tea is an easy example of this. While the warm, soothing texture of the tea is known to be calming, studies suggest that chamomile may physically reduce anxiety by increasing production of the feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine, thus helping to rewire the body’s stress response.
Dark chocolate is another food that offers mental and physical stress relievers. The indulgence of savoring a piece of dark chocolate alone can be a stress reliever. In addition, dark chocolate is is also rich in antioxidants, which can lower levels of stress hormones in the body. Other foods that battle stress include whole grain carbohydrates, bananas, magnesium-rich foods (spinach or other leafy greens, salmon, and soybean), and Omega-3 Fatty Acids (fatty fish and nuts and seeds).
Further, proper diet can counterbalance the impact of stress by strengthening the immune system, stabilizing moods, and reducing blood pressure. The UCLA Center for East-West Medicine has an excellent resource for understanding and discovering stress-reducing foods, herbs and supplements.
Consider replacing your afternoon habit with a walk, cup of tea, or visit to your yoga mat. High doses of caffeine are known to increase anxiety. Because people have different thresholds for the substance, there is no specified amount of caffeine that avoids/causes caffeine-induced anxiety. In general, five or fewer cups of coffee per day (and the equivalent) is considered moderate.
The physical stress occurred through exercise is known to relieve mental stress. This is based on the ability of physical exercise to:
The Mayo Clinic has an excellent guide to understanding the body’s physiological response to exercise, and how to get started on a program that suits you.
While not addressing work that awaits may seem like a reasonable action in the moment, it in fact deprives you of the very important stress relievers of accomplishment. Procrastination leads to reactive behavior, which results in catch-up behavior and stress. Create priority lists for home and work, giving yourself written-down and realistic deadlines. This habit may help avoid procrastination and add a sense of accomplishment, once tasks are complete.
It’s not just a buzzword. Mindfulness is becoming one of the top relaxation habits in the United States. Mindfulness brings awareness to the current moment, allowing you to focus on the present and controllable moment. It has been shown to reduce stress associated with negative thinking, increase self esteem and reduce depression. There are many methods to experiment with mindfulness, including cognitive therapy, yoga and tai-chi, and meditation.