It’s completely normal to feel stressed from time to time. Not only do we live increasingly busy lives, but some stress is actually helpful. After all, if we never worried about work deadlines, we might never finish projects.
On the other hand, stress has a dark side. Too much worry and emotional tension put you at risk of depression and anxiety disorders. Stress also makes physical health problems like high blood pressure and chronic fatigue syndrome worse.
Millions of Americans take anti-anxiety pills and antidepressants. They can definitely be a lifesaver, but they often have unpleasant side-effects. If you’ve ever had a dry mouth, nausea, or rash after taking them, this will all sound familiar.
Fortunately, you can fight back against stress with safe, natural fixes you can do at home.
1. Fix your diet
There is a proven link between food and mood. Let’s start with the most obvious – sugar. When you eat a sugary snack, you briefly feel happy and satisfied. But it doesn’t last long. Within a couple of hours, your blood sugar plummets, leaving you feeling grouchy. The solution? Eat whole grain, slow-release carbs instead.
Caffeine is another common problem. Research shows that some people are particularly sensitive to its effects, which can include palpitations and anxiety. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a couple of cups every day, but too much isn’t healthy. Try cutting back on caffeine for a few days and see how you feel.
2. Make yoga a regular habit
A workout for both body and mind, yoga promotes relaxation and helps melt away everyday stress. If you’ve never tried it before, find a beginner’s class and give it a go. Don’t worry – it won’t be full of super-supple gym bunnies. People of all ages and body types do yoga. If you would prefer to practice alone, there are lots of YouTube tutorials to help you get started.
Yoga can help you chill out during stressful moments, but it’s even more effective when you do it regularly. Set aside fifteen minutes per day to work through a few poses. Yoga has a wonderful grounding effect that will slowly work its way into other areas of your life.
To get started, check out the basic moves in this video here.
3. Breathing exercises
Taking a moment to catch your breath and get more oxygen into your body has a wonderful stress-busting effect. The next time you find yourself feeling panicky, sit down and close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose, picturing your lungs filling with air. Count to four as you hold your breath. Then exhale slowly.
Repeat this exercise, but this time try to release tension in your neck, back and shoulders as you exhale. If you feel too anxious to sit still, feel free to try this technique while standing or lying down. Those of you who feel self-conscious will probably want to find a private place before trying it out.
Massage therapies have been used to treat and prevent stress for thousands of years. People of every culture seem to understand the healing power of touch. You can choose from a dizzying array of therapies including Swedish, Shiatsu, and Thai massage to name but a few.
Do some research and pick which seems right for you, but any popular treatment will help you calm down. In the hands of a qualified masseuse, your troubles will start to feel like a distant memory. Scientists have established that massage can help you feel better immediately.
Essential oils act directly on the central nervous system, making them effective remedies for anxiety and stress. For example, inhaling lemon oil for ten minutes directly lowers the heart rate. According to a Japanese study, its effects last for around 30 minutes. Remember to mix essential oils with a carrier oil if you want to apply it to your skin.
Ylang ylang is another popular option. Not only does it soothe an overactive nervous system but is also smells lovely! It’s a wonderful natural alternative to commercial air freshener.
Some people choose to use natural treatments rather than Western medicine. However, if you must never stop taking prescribed medication without talking to a doctor first. You should also check in with a physician before trying alternative or complementary therapies. This is particularly important if you have another health condition.
Guest Author Bio
Hi, I’m Clara! I help energetic high achievers stay balanced and release stress. I believe massage therapy is not an indulgence or a treat, but an integral part of our routine for healthy living, just like exercising and eating right. Massageaholic is on a mission to increase awareness of how massage can help you fill your energy cup, so you can better serve not only yourself but others around you as well.