The ongoing pandemic has put paid to all our initial hopes and dreams of 20-plenty being a year of opportunity and abundance. Instead, we’ve descended into a quagmire of stress, anxiety, and uncertainty.
According to the American Psychological Association, most Americans report stress levels of 5.9 out of 10 this year, compared to last year’s levels of 4.9.
Are you one of those people suffering from ongoing worry and despair right now? Do you want to avoid sinking further into this pit of despair?
You can turn back the ravages of stress and embrace a peaceful state of mind once again. So, sit back, relax, and find out how to harness the power of natural stress relief right now.
What is Stress?
Stress is the human body’s natural response to a real or perceived threat. It results in the activation of your flight or fight response. To prepare for combat or a high-speed sprint to safety, your body primes itself with cortisol and adrenaline.
These hormones prepare your body for action by causing an increase in heart rate, muscle tension, blood pressure, and respiration. All your senses go on to high alert to help you detect danger quicker.
This works as an excellent survival tactic when there’s a tangible threat to deal with. Effective as it is, this response’s designed to have an outlet in the form of actual fight or flight.
When faced with an intangible threat, there’s no release for this state of vigilance and readiness.
So, all the cortisol and adrenaline produced by your body to cope with the imminent danger has nowhere to go. This can result in several negative consequences, such as:
- Anxiety and depression
- Chronic pain
- Digestive upsets
- Skin conditions like eczema
- Weight fluctuations
- Heart disease
- Mood and memory problems
It’s possible to manage each of these symptoms with medication, but there’s a better way that goes straight to the source of these problems. The best way to fight a natural problem is with natural solutions.
Starting Points for Stress Reduction
Although stress isn’t entirely a mental malady, there are ways to combat the mental processes which make it worse. That is, to stop the racing thoughts that fuel your body’s stress response.
Here’s how to reduce stress naturally at the source:
Let’s face it, we’re dealing with a terrifying invisible enemy at the moment. It’s threatening not only our lives but our livelihoods too. In many instances, the virus has stripped us of all enjoyments, social interactions, and familiar routines. ‘
It’s not irrational to fear the virus, but worrying that you’ll never enjoy your life again is. As long as you take the necessary precautions, you have nothing to fear from illness.
Turn Fear Around
It’s an odd comparison, but psychologists sometimes compare fear to a form of love. If we didn’t love our old way of life, we wouldn’t experience fear at the thought of losing it.
Seen in this light, fear is an expression of our desire to live our lives as we were. Turn fear into gratitude for the things you have enjoyed and the good times to come.
Respond Instead of React
Indulging in fearful thoughts is a type of self-pity that you can do without right now. When you find yourself stuck in a rut of worry and anxiety, recognize the feeling. Then, distance yourself from it.
Self-talk is your best defense against these niggling thoughts. Reassure yourself that at this moment, you’re safe. Focus on now.
Understand Your Vulnerability
Life’s a risky business with only one outcome. We’re all vulnerable to injury and death.
Instead of letting that thought cripple you with fear, embrace it as a connection with your fellow human beings. After all, we really are all in this together.
Embrace Exercise for Natural Stress Relief
Exercise can help with reducing stress in a few ways. Firstly, it gives you something else to focus on instead of your worries. You can also experience a sense of achievement when you achieve your fitness goals.
Yet, the main way that exercise helps reduce stress is a science-based one.
When you exercise, your brain releases dopamine. Known as the feel-good chemical. This enzyme works to reduce cortisol and adrenaline in your system, creating the feeling of an exercise high instead.
Dopamine is one of the main culprits associated with addicts’ pleasure-seeking behaviors which illustrates just how powerful it really is.
You don’t need to get up and run a marathon or go to the gym. Chances are these activities are off the cards right now anyway.
It’s possible to reboot your mind as well as improve your fitness with just twenty minutes of exercise a day.
So, turn up the music and dance a while, try out an exercise video on the internet, or jog on the spot. You’ll notice an immediate improvement in your mental outlook.
How to Reduce Stress With Diet
Eating too little or too much is another symptom of stress that can wreak havoc with our mental and physical health. Instead, try to follow a healthy diet rich in stress-busting foods.
These meals contain vitamins and minerals to help your body and mind deal with stress and can help keep you on an even keel. Some of the best foods for beating stress include:
Embrace leafy greens in as many meals as you can.
They’re filled with stress-busting goodness in the form of magnesium. This mineral helps regulate blood pressure, combats cortisol, and plays a major role in the production of dopamine.
Nibble on Fruit
Fruits like oranges that have a high vitamin C content, can help keep stress at bay. Studies show that people who consume high levels of vitamin C experience decreased cortisol levels and reduced stress.
Oranges are great but you can also try cranberries, strawberries, and grapefruit for variety.
Fill Up on Water
Every time you feel the urge to snack or raid the refrigerator, drink a glass of water instead. Even mild dehydration encourages high cortisol levels.
Drinking healthy amounts of water will help your body avoid the negative effects of stress.
Enjoy Fatty Fish
Fish is well-known as food for the brain and it is a superpower when it comes to beating stress too. Omega-3 fatty acids boost heart health and ease depression.
Try halibut, tuna, salmon, and sardines for best results.
Bite into a Banana
Bananas are a nifty pick-me-up when you’re feeling low. They’re filled with dopamine-boosting magnesium and phosphorous, as well as Vitamin B6 to keep your nervous system running efficiently.
These power-packed fruits also help reduce the fatigue associated with depression.
Whole-Grain Carbohydrates are King
In their original form, carbohydrates are good for boosting serotonin, which works with dopamine to fight stress and support mental focus.
Stay away from the cookies, crackers, and chips, and get your daily dose of carbs straight from the source.
Whole-grain carbohydrates provide hearty doses of fiber to keep your gut microbiome in good condition. They also regulate blood sugar levels and promote heart health.
Apart from eating well, stick to a regular eating plan. Make sure you eat three meals a day and avoid sugary and salty snacks in between meals. If you’d like a treat, try some dark chocolate, it’s full of beneficial antioxidants.
Ways to Reduce Stress With Self-Care
At times like this, it’s important to treat yourself with kindness. Undue stress is a serious malady with severe consequences, so take time to rest and spend time doing the things you love to do.
A little pampering also goes a long way towards creating a calm sense of wellbeing. Here are some ideas to help surround yourself with a sense of calm:
Set the Scene for Serenity
Create a calm and pleasant environment. If your house is abuzz with the chaos of home-schooled children right now, set aside a room where you can escape to peace and tranquility.
Innovations like this oil diffuser can fill a room with lovely therapeutic and calming scents to help smooth your stresses away.
Try Mindfulness Exercises
Meditation and yoga provide opportunities for positive self-talk and introspection. Deep breathing helps release tension from your muscles and mindfulness exercises will teach you to stay in the moment.
By revisiting these feelings of calm throughout the day, you can bring your mind back from worrying thoughts and refocus on more positive things.
Keep Up Your Defense Against Stress
Try to set up a routine involving ways to reduce your stress naturally. Before long, these habits will become part of your coping mechanism.
You’ll find these natural stress relief measures will stand you in good stead long after the pandemic has passed.
Browse our blog for more light relief and entertaining topics to help you get your mind off things.