5 Natural Ways to Relieve Stress
It’s here – we’re officially into the 7th month of the year, and over half way! Is your wellbeing in check? This time of year is fraught with stressful triggers (tax returns being just one of them!), combined with the cooler weather which can often dampen our mood.
This month I’m talking about some easy, natural ways to keep your stress levels in check and ensure you enter the second half of 2016 feeling calm and contented. Read on for my tips!
Get enough sleep
If you’re like 90% of the rest of the population, you’re probably up late on Tuesday nights watching the latest Game of Thrones episode – and that’s okay – but for the rest of the week, make sure you’re getting enough rest. Sleep is absolutely crucial to our health, and even one night of sleep deprivation can negatively impact our memory, judgement and mood. To help you feel more relaxed and ready to hit the sheets, try not to eat heavily after 7pm, and reduce cell-phone and laptop usage in the hour or so before bed-time.
Exercise is just about the quickest and easiest way to relieve stress and lift mood – studies have shown that even 5 minutes of aerobic exercise can deliver anti-anxiety effects. Exercise improves mood via the release of endorphins; neurotransmitters that act as the body’s natural ‘feel good’ chemicals. Certain forms of exercise can also be meditative – swimming laps, for example, can distract you from worrying thoughts in that it’s repetitive and requires focus. And, of course, working out between the sheets also has extensive health benefits via the same endorphin-release mechanism – in fact, regular orgasms can lower blood pressure, relieve headaches and improve sleep patterns. And you thought it was just for fun!
Cut out the caffeine
One of the effects of caffeine on the body is that it stimulates the adrenal glands, which are responsible for producing cortisol. Cortisol is the body’s ‘stress hormone’, and it activates our fight-or-flight response when we’re confronted with a dangerous situation. In Ancient times, this was adaptive and an important survival mechanism – but nowadays, cortisol levels increase in response to everyday-stressors, and elevated levels in the bloodstream can interfere with immune system function. So, anything we can do to reduce it is a good thing.
If you can’t go cold-turkey on coffee, then try switching to decaf or even part-decaf (most cafes will do one shot of each, for example, if you ask). Or, swap coffee for herbal tea – lavender, chamomile and valerian root all have calming properties. Be warned, though – these relaxing herbs can also cause drowsiness if you overdo it; so read the labels carefully!
Carry some ‘emergency stress relief’ with you
Sometimes things just come up during the day that throw us off-course – we can wake up feeling completely zen and then end the day feeling like we just don’t have our sh*t together. Everyone has those days, and some stressful triggers are unavoidable. For those unexpected anxiety-provoking moments, carry a stress-relieving formula like Blissoma’s Stress Relief Serum. I have one in my handbag and carry it everywhere; and I can honestly say that it does bring me relief when I’m in a hurry or ‘wound up’ and just feel like I need to pause breathe a little bit deeper. A calming concoction of chamomile, peppermint, lavender and lemon balm, it’s also wonderful at soothing headaches and relieving insomnia. And it smells beautiful! When I use it, I apply it under my nose (so I can breathe it in), and on my pulse-points (temples and wrists). The rollerball applicator makes it easy and mess-free to use, and it’s tiny enough to carry with you or keep next to your bed.
Find a stress-relieving activity that you enjoy
For me, it’s yoga. For others, it’s meditation (and the two can have a lot in common). For some people, reading really relaxes them – or even something as simple & easy as taking a bath with a muscle-soothing bath soak. Whatever your ‘relaxation activity’, make sure you find time for it every week – and make it a priority. Taking a bath might seem like a trivial exercise when you have a million and one more important things to do; but that’s just the thing. It is important, and if you’re anything like me, you won’t relax at all during the week unless you specifically make a point to do so. So plan for it and follow it through – again and again. Your body and mind will thank you for it in the long-term!