Our modern world can be hectic with many of us balancing the responsibilities of family, work and outside interests. If you find your stress levels are on the rise then there are some simple things that you can do in order to de-stress your life.
Activities to de-stress
If you’re dealing with a chronic level of stress (not associated with a particular time of day or event) then you might want to consider adding in some activities to de-stress.
- Exercise: Any form of physical activity can be a great way to de-stress. Walking outside in nature is a particularly good way to de-stress. Surrounding yourself with “Vitamin N” can help reduce levels of depression, anxiety and stress by allowing your senses to gently notice sights, sounds and smells. . With smart phones in our pockets and ads everywhere vying for our attention walking gives you a much needed break from stimuli(1)Yoga is another great way to re-connect with your mind in order to de-stress. When you move through the various poses it brings your mind into your body through use of gentle movement.
To read more about how exercise ties into your mood click here.
- Creative outlets: Coloring, doodling and other creative activities can help move your focus off your stressors. Reading is another natural stress-buster. Allowing yourself to focus on fictional problems gives you some much needed space from your own emotions.
- Find the funny: Laughing is one of the best stress busters out there. The feel-good hormones released through laughter will help you to bring down your stress levels. (2)
- Music: Whether it’s an upbeat song that gets your toes tapping or some soothing jazz, music is another great way to de-stress. You can increase this benefit by singing or dancing.
Best Herbs and Vitamins to de-stress
Outside sources aren’t the only cause of stress. Hormones can also play a role in your stress levels. (3) If you find yourself struggling with stress it can be a good idea to speak with a registered nutritionist or medical professional. They can help you check to see if some dietary changes could be made to decrease your stress levels.
Your nutritionist might suggest adding in some of the following vitamins and herbs in order to help your hormones battle stress.
- B-vitamins- this important group of vitamins has been shown in studies to reduce the levels of serum homocysteine (an amino acid that’s related to stress) in the body
- Glycine- this amino acid is helps raise serotonin levels in the body and it was also shown in studies to contribute to a more restful night’s sleep.
- Ashwagandha-medical practitioners in India used this adaptogenic herb for centuries. Lately it’s been garnering some attention from modern scientists. In a 2019 study it was shown to increase the body’s ability to fight physical and mental stress as well as lower cortisol levels in the participants.
- L-theanine- this compound is useful in promoting relaxation and lowering stress levels. The leaves of green and black tea are great sources of L-theanine.
- Rhodiola- Chinese medical practitioners have used this adaptogenic herb for centuries to help manage stress. It has been shown in studies to help improve sleep quality which leads to a better ability to combat stress.
Struggling to find time to eat healthy? Click here for help on working healthy eating into your busy life.
Mindfulness and Meditation
The practice of mindfulness can be a great tool in the fight against stress. Being mindful means being engaged in your present moment and paying attention to your body and the world around you. You can bring mindfulness into every single thing you do in a day. For example, mindfulness while eating means paying attention to the taste and texture of your food with every bite. When practicing mindfulness, you may notice that your body is tense and that your mind is racing. Instead of stressing and battling to change these feelings mindfulness would have you notice them without judgement and move on.
Meditation takes the practice of mindfulness even further and helps you turn it inwards. When you sit in meditation your complete focus is on your breath, your body and your thoughts. Some guided meditations have affirmations or visualizations included that ask you to focus on a particular phrase or scenario. These can be helpful if you struggle with focusing your thoughts. However, you don’t need a class, recording or guide in order to meditate. All you need is a few minutes to sit in silence with your body, your breath and your thoughts. Re-connecting to your body through meditation can help calm your thoughts and bring an increased focus to your breath.
De-stress in 60 seconds or less
Assuming warrior pose isn’t practical in the middle of a challenging work meeting and you can’t read your favorite book when you’re stuck in traffic. Sometimes you’re going to be in a stressful situation where you need a discreet and quick way to re-centre yourself.
If you can, one of the best things to do is leave the situation for a little bit. Excusing yourself for a bathroom break or popping into the kitchen can give you space to regain your calm.
If leaving isn’t possible, you can still de-stress by taking 10 deep, full belly breaths. Focusing on your breathing is a great way to re-connect with your body while you give your emotions some breathing room (every pun intended).
Engaging one of your five sense is another way to quickly battle raising stress levels. You can engage your sense of smell by wearing a calming perfume or lighting a candle that you find soothing. Looking at a photo of your loved one can engage your sight. If you slowly suck on a mint or a piece of candy you can engage your sense of taste. Listening to your favorite song on the radio or playing some natural ambient music can connect you to your hearing. You can engage your sense of touch by petting the family dog or using a weighted blanket. This can help you to feel grounded.(4)
Whether your stress is chronic or situational there’s a quick and easy way to naturally de-stress. Try incorporating some of the above activities into your day in order to keep your stress levels low. And remember, if you think there might be more going on than some situational stress it’s wise to talk to a medical professional.
To speak with a nutritionist about how your diet may be contributing to your stress levels, click here.
Kaitlyn Bain is a professional health and wellness writer with a passion for helping her clients educate their readers on healthy lifestyles.