Whether you’re stressed out about big things, small things, life things, work things–we all deal with stress at one point or another, and dealing with it can be difficult. Trying to force yourself out of stress or ignoring it can both make things worse; so what can you do?
There are a couple natural, proven remedies that you can use at home to help ease the various stresses of daily life.
The first remedy is a broad one: self care! Many of the things we do to take care of ourselves, we do because of an innate understanding that it helps relieve stress. This remedy contains a multitude of options that you can easily access in the comfort of your own home (or maybe in a hotel room, if you are on vacation; another potential stress reliever!).
Here are a few of my favorite options for self care, but listen to yourself: what makes you feel good?
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Bring on the Bubbles
Take a bath! Warming your body up can help relieve the tension caused by stress, and putting aside some time to lavish attention on your physical self can do a lot of good. You can take it as far as you want. Whether it’s simple, with a book and some bubbles, or getting fancy, adding essential oils or a body scrub, a bath can be a wonderful way to relax and give your body the care it needs.
Self massage is another important trick that you can utilize almost anywhere you can find a little privacy. Scalp massage can relieve tension and can help relieve headaches caused by it as well as feel really good – use the pads of your fingers, so you aren’t too harsh.
Foot massage is another one you can do easily; our feet hold a lot of the physical stress of the day, especially if you’re on your feet a lot or wear high heels. Here are some self massage tips and tricks.
One of the ways we want to treat ourselves when we’re stressed is with sweet snacks, but candies laden in sugar can actually make you more restless and agitated. Rather than reaching for a candy bar, look to fruits, dark chocolate and other natural bursts of that sweetness you crave. Nature’s own sweet gives you all the satisfaction, with less of the agitation that can be caused by a sugar rush.
These are only some options for self care; think about what makes you feel good. What do you do to wind down at the end of a long day?
Physical exertion is a well-known reliever of stress and anxiety. There are a few reasons why it’s so effective:
It releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain-relievers and “feel-good” hormones that are commonly referred to as a “runner’s high,” which can be unlocked by any cardio-focused workout.
Exercise can also improve mood and sleep, which allows your body to rest and heal. Regular exercise that’s undertaken healthily, without pushing yourself too hard or overworking yourself, can help with mild anxiety and depression, and generally helps the body process stress through physical exertion.
Lavender and Chamomile
These common household herbals have been known for millennia as helping relieve stress, inflammation and creating a feeling of relaxation. Both herbs can help with relaxation; used in aromatherapy, sipping a cup of chamomile tea before you go to bed or snuggling up with a lavender-filled pillow are all ways to create an almost immediate feeling of stress relief.
Among other benefits, lavender relieves pain (analgesic), helps with digestion, is a sedative, helps relieve gastrointestinal discomfort (it’s carminative, or prevents flatulence), it’s also antispasmodic and antiseptic. For the root of these effects, research points to the terpenes linalool and linalyl aldehyde, which are found naturally in lavender: they counter inflammation, reduce swelling and pain, and prevent infection. Since stress often presents as physical tension or pain, lavender is incredibly effective for relieving stress and helping you recover.
Chamomile tea is commonly found in pantries and easily accessible in any grocery store, and has more benefits than can really be fit into a paragraph. It’s primary use is as an anti-inflammatory, but it also helps relieve stress and tension, stomach discomfort, nervous headaches, insomnia, and a variety of other ailments that can arise from stress.
Other herbals that you might not find in your kitchen cupboard already that help with stress include passion flower, skullcap, lemon balm, hops, and valerian. Talk to your local herbalist for ideas and to your doctor to make sure any herbs you’re considering taking won’t interact poorly with medications or health conditions.
Sitting and paying attention to your breath can have a multitude of positive effects. Paying close attention to and monitoring your breathing is a form of meditation that can help quiet anxious thoughts. It can also help lower blood pressure, deliver oxygen all over your body to help physical and mental function and help create feelings of calm and relaxation. Here are a few breathing exercises you can try on for size, but there are also a multitude of guided meditations and guided breathing exercises you can find online. Or, you can go the simplest route: focus on your breath, breathing slowly and deeply, and exhaling slowly and completely.
Research has shown that stress is linked with an imbalance in the endocannabinoid system, a series of receptors within the human nervous system that regulate all manner of things, including pain, sleep, appetite, and – you guessed it – stress. The body produces its own endocannabinoids, which activate or block those receptors and thereby moderate different sensations and reactions throughout the body. Cannabinoids are similar compounds, able to interact with our internal system, but found in the cannabis plant. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one such cannabinoid.
Research has shown that anxious or stressed reactions, such as fight, flight or freeze and the physical pain that some people can experience in response to anxiety or stress, are moderated by the endocannabinoid system. CBD’s effect on the system, primarily it’s activation of the 5HT1A and TRPV1 receptors, can help mitigate those reactions to stress and help create and maintain healthy, physical reactions to stress.
Stress is part of all of our lives in one way or another; one of the most difficult feelings is the lack of control one can have over their anxiety or the reactions to it. Taking a few steps everyday to take care of yourself and unwind physical and mental reactions to stress is something we could all benefit from!