Stress isn’t always a bad thing, it is simply a reaction to change or other pressures. Stress can be caused by unpleasant things (e.g., loss) or even positive changes (e.g., starting a new business, having a baby). Whatever the causes of your stress, it can have negative effects on your health, your relationships and other aspects of your life, unless you learn to manage it.
Here are some ideas for natural stress relief that can help you stay in control.
Improve your diet. Eating better can help you feel better and give you the stamina to deal with stress. Eat more fresh vegetables and fruits and fewer sugars, salt, and refined carbohydrates. Decrease your caffeine intake, too, as caffeine can exacerbate the symptoms of stress. Not sure you can give up your daily coffees? Try switching to decaf, or a mixture of “regular” and decaffeinated coffee. Or better yet, substitute herbal teas.
Take your vitamins. The best way to get the vitamins and nutrients you need is by eating a healthy balanced diet. However, if you are not sure you are getting all you need, you might consider a supplement. Take a daily multivitamin, or choose a supplement with just the vitamins you need most. Vitamin C boosts the immune system and has been shown to decrease stress related infections. Vitamins A and E are antioxidants, and B-complex vitamins can improve your mood.
Use aromatherapy. Scents are incredibly powerful. Just getting a whiff of freshly-baked cookies can take us back to childhood, and happy associations with Mom’s best oatmeal cookies. Catching the aroma of an ex-lover’s favorite cologne can bring back less pleasant memories. Lavender, Rosemary, Sandalwood, and Tangerine are some of the scents that have a calming effect. Choose an essential oil, a candle, potpourri or other scented item that relaxes you or makes you feel happy.
Remove yourself from stressful situations. When you can, take yourself out of situations that aggravate your stress. Avoid people that trigger stress reactions, work away from your office for the day, or skip dinner at your in-laws just this once. You can’t run away from stress, but you can take steps to avoid it.
Enjoy a warm bath. Fill your tub with warm water and luxurious bubbles, or add your favorite essential oil to the water. Then sit back and soak away sore muscles, that tired feeling and the stresses of the day.
Get moving! You don’t have to take up kickboxing or run a marathon, just start an activity that puts you in motion. Walk your dog, get on the treadmill, jump rope, take an aerobics class—anything that gets your heart rate up and gets those endorphins pumping. I keep a mini-trampoline in my office, and when I am feeling tired or stressed, I jump up and down for a few minutes.
Get a massage. Where do you carry your stress? For me, it is mostly in my neck and shoulders. A massage helps to release that stress. Many places (e.g., grocery stores, book stores, etc.) have chair massages available. Just 10 or 15 minutes can make a huge difference.
Meditate. Clear your mind and reduce your stress. Add aromatherapy and yoga or gentle stretching after meditation to enhance the effects.
If you are alive you will feel stress, but you can take action to control the effects of stress on your mind and body.