When stress creeps in, it can impact our bodies in a million different ways. The change in our hormones caused by stress can lead to increased inflammation, a heightened risk of disease and obesity, difficulty sleeping, irritability, and more.
Between work, school, family, and our social lives, it’s not hard to find something to be stressed about. But what can you do when you’re feeling overwhelmed? Are pharmaceuticals the only way out? Absolutely not.
There are plenty of natural stress relievers you can try at home that won’t just help in the moment, but down the road too. While it’s impossible to totally eliminate stress (if only), we can manage and minimize it to prevent stress from controlling our lives.
Ready to dive in? Here are 9 natural ways to manage stress:
Meditation has been proven time and time again to be wildly effective as a natural stress remedy. By actively focusing your attention on the present moment and shutting out everything else, you can create calmness and mental clarity while improving your emotional reactivity over time.
There are plenty of resources you can use to begin meditating, from podcasts and books to YouTube videos and apps. Try to start by dedicating 5-10 minutes each day on a meditation practice like mindfulness or visualization to see if meditation is a good fit.
We all know that exercise comes with a myriad of health benefits, but did you know it can actually be incredibly effective in reducing stress? When we exercise, our bodies produce endorphins (aka the brain’s favorite feel-good chemical), which help to elevate our mood, boost our self-esteem, improve sleep quality, and reduce tension.
Don’t worry if you can’t find time to hit the gym or go for a walk every day. You can experience the stress-relieving effects of exercise in as little as five minutes a day! Focus on making small changes like taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking further from the entrance in parking lots. You’ll be amazed at how quickly it works.
- Try CBD
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is widely believed to be an amazing natural stress reliever. By interacting with our body’s endocannabinoid system, CBD can help to regulate our cognitive and physiological functions, strengthening our body’s ability to reduce stress and anxiety.
You can incorporate CBD oil into your daily routine by adding some to your morning coffee, squeezing some under your tongue before bed, or rubbing it onto your temples. It’s best to start with a small amount until you find the dosage that works for you.
- Eliminate Caffeine
Research has shown that caffeine can cause spikes in our cortisol levels throughout the day, which can lead to negative impacts on our health over time. Cortisol, aka the stress hormone, plays a huge role in helping our bodies regulate blood pressure, reduce inflammation, metabolize nutrients, and maintain proper sleep.
Cutting out caffeine might sound drastic, especially if you rely on your morning cup of coffee to wake you up. If eliminating caffeine entirely isn’t an option (at least not right away), try to significantly reduce your intake and set an 11AM cut-off time for yourself.
- Minimize Screen Time
While the use of cell phones and computers is an unavoidable part of daily life for most of us, overuse can lead to a major increase in stress levels. In fact, countless studies have linked excessive smartphone use and social media addiction to mental health disorders and increased stress.
You can take steps to minimize your screen time from day to day. For example, try reading a book or going for a walk next time you’re about to surf the web. Another idea is to take a week (or even a month!) off from social media. It’s hard to be present with our heads stuck in our screens, but the benefits of going offline are staggering.
- Take Herbal Supplements
Adaptogens, literally named for their ability to help us adapt to external stressors, are powerful yet totally natural ways to manage stress. Some of the most popular adaptogens for stress relief include ashwagandha, ginseng, and reishi mushrooms.
By helping to support our adrenal glands, which produce and release stress hormones, adaptogens are able to promote calm and ease stress in the body when taken consistently. You can find them in pill, powder, or liquid form at any herbal supplement shop or in the supplement aisle of most health food stores.
- Eat Nourishing Foods
One of the easiest ways to manage stress is by nourishing our bodies with a nutrient-dense diet. Not only do our bodies need vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients to function properly, but our brains also benefit from better stress management when we feed it the right nutrients.
You can start by focusing on whole, unprocessed foods and removing overly processed foods from your regular diet. Some of the best stress-relieving foods to incorporate into a healthy diet include:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Wild-caught fish
- Grass-fed beef
- Nuts and seeds
- Heart-healthy oils like olive oil and coconut oil
- Cultured dairy products
- Prioritize Self-Care
When was the last time you did something for yourself for no other reason than to make yourself feel good? Prioritizing self-care is a fantastic way to manage stress. We often forget to put ourselves first when we’re facing tremendous amounts of stress and anxiety, but self-care is an essential part of nourishing our mental and physical health.
A lack of self-care can lead to higher stress levels and eventual burnout. Try to incorporate some form of self-care into your daily routine and stick with it. Good examples include taking a bath, lighting scented candles, stretching before bed, reading, journaling, practicing a hobby you enjoy, and cooking a healthy meal.
- Go Outside
As a society, we don’t spend nearly enough time outdoors. Immersing yourself in nature is an easy and effective way to reduce stress. Camping and hiking are great ways to get outside, but simply going for a walk or reading a book at the park can also do the trick.
Studies have found that we can improve our mental well-being and reduce stress by spending as little as just ten minutes outside in a natural setting. Even if you live in an urban area, try to find a nearby park or walking trail to spend some time exploring.
Try some of these natural ways to manage stress this week and see how it makes you feel. You might just find find that one of these tools makes a world of difference!