Stress is a normal part of life that can be caused by our jobs, children, school, environments, and everyday challenges. But, stress exists for a reason. It’s designed to keep us alert to face life’s trials. Long-term stress, however, can lead to elevated blood pressure, heart disease, headaches, digestive issues, and insomnia.
Fortunately, there are natural ways to relieve your stress without having to run to the nearest pharmacy:
- Use lavender. Research shows that the scent of lavender lowers heart rate and blood pressure. It can even help you get extra sleep! So put some next to your bed to catch some extra ZZZ’s.
- Listen to music. Listening to music or the calming sounds of nature can relieve stress and lower the heart rate.
- Breathe deeply. Slowly inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth can counter stress by lowering heart rate and blood pressure.
- Exercise daily. You don’t have to run a marathon to achieve an emotional high. Daily exercise, such as walking, yoga, and climbing stairs, can get your blood moving — releasing endorphins into your brain. These feel-good chemicals can reduce stress almost instantaneously. And if you’re short on time, there are almost always ways to work in a workout.
- Drink tea. Caffeinated drinks, like coffee, soda, and energy drinks, can make stress worse by temporarily spiking your blood pressure. Green tea, however, contains theanine — an amino acid that can help calm the nervous system. Other teas, such as chamomile, bind the same brain receptors as drugs like Valium, making tea nature’s own mild tranquilizer.
- Laugh it up. Laughter may be the last thing on your mind during stressful times. However, a good laugh can boost endorphins while simultaneously decreasing stress-causing adrenaline and cortisol.
- Eat a little chocolate. That’s right, permission to eat chocolate. A small amount of dark chocolate can decrease the amount of cortisol and other stress hormones in your brain. Just be careful, because too much chocolate can increase your blood sugar levels, making you feel more stressed.
- Sleep it off. While stress may restrict your ability to sleep soundly, it’s still important to try. People who average six hours of sleep per night average 50% more cortisol than those who get the recommended 8 hours.
- Just relax. Set aside some time to distance yourself from the routine stresses you face all day. Finding a way to relax your body will set off a chain of events that will reduce stress, slow your heart rate, and decrease production of stress hormones in your body. So take a warm bath, get a massage, or enjoy some much-needed quiet time.
If you are struggling with long-term stress, talk to your doctor about ways to restore health and wellness. Don’t have a doctor? Find one here.