We all feel stressed every now and then – it’s entirely normal. But chronic stress should never be considered normal.
The hormone most responsible for stress is cortisol. It’s known for producing the fight-or-flight response, and while essential, too much for too long is a no-no for wellbeing.
We all manage stress in our own ways, but some techniques are better than others. If frantically squeezing a stress ball just won’t cut it, try some of these all-natural stress relief ideas.
1. Mingle with Mother Nature
If you’re looking to reset, it might be as simple as stepping outside and basking in the sunlight and fresh air.
In a recent report, researchers found that spending time in natural green spaces significantly reduces cortisol levels.
So next time it’s all a bit too much, try scheduling a meeting with Mother Nature. You could take some of your to-do list outside, or simply feel the grass between your toes and do nothing at all for a while.
READ >> Why gardening is so good for you
2. Write away your worries
Putting pen to paper might be just what you need to feel like yourself again.
Writing in a journal can help you work through negative thoughts, and in turn, reduce stress. Researchers found that many students turn to journaling in troubling times, as a way to release inner turmoil.
But forget those Dear Diary entries from your younger years. Try using a journal not only to work through stress and negativity, but to take note of what made you smile, what you’re grateful for and what you’re looking forward to.
3. Enjoy more exercise
By now, most of us are aware of the many benefits of regular exercise – including stress relief. Although we know we should be exercising more, many of us just don’t find the time.
An American study found that adults with the highest stress levels were the least likely to exercise each week. But despite not exercising very much, 33% admitted feeling less stressed when they do find the time to exercise.
If stress is something you struggle with, it might be worth forcing exercise into your agenda.
4. Give aromatherapy a go
Aromatherapy enthusiasts use scents in an attempt to alter their mood and manage stress, and for good reason.
A study found that stress levels were significantly lower among students who received the aroma treatment, compared to those who were inhaling a placebo during the research period.
So if you find yourself feeling stressed a little too often, try using a diffuser with essential oils, lather yourself in an infused moisturiser, or light some fragrant candles.
Some of the best stress-relieving scents include orange, lemon, bergamot, rosemary, lavender and peppermint.
5. Control your caffeine intake
Caffeine is a stimulant, so it makes sense that high doses might make you feel a little on edge.
Along with spiking your adrenaline and dopamine, caffeine can increase your levels of cortisol. Habitually consuming too much can keep your cortisol elevated, and over time, you might unwittingly find yourself in a chronic stress situation.
Caffeine is completely fine in moderation – just don’t overdo it. More than 6 cups of coffee might be too much, so consider substituting with tea or water.
6. Flex your funny muscle
Not only does a good belly laugh relieve tension in your muscles, it also relieves stress.
A 2003 study found that laughing at funny videos stimulates a reduction in cortisol as well as adrenaline, another hormone that makes us feel stressed and anxious.
If tackling stress is as simple as laughing more, then sign us up!
READ >> 6 health benefits of laughter
7. Find your om
Meditation, whether in the form of mindfulness techniques or yoga, has long been regarded as an effective way to manage stress.
According to a Harvard study, you can significantly reduce your stress levels after eight weeks of meditation. In this particular study, that consisted of 40 minutes of a daily mindfulness-based stress reduction program.
If meditating doesn’t come naturally to you, or if the downward dog just isn’t your forte, meditation apps like Headspace can make things easier by teaching you simple mindfulness techniques in a few minutes a day.
8. Handle your workload
As the old saying goes – don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. But if you’re serious about prioritising your wellbeing and reducing stress in your life, it’s important to learn to say no.
That might mean being honest about what you can handle at work or in life, managing your time better, or learning to not feel guilty about not committing to everything everyone asks of you.
9. Feel the power of music
Music offers plenty of benefits, with stress relief being a major one.
A 2013 study compared the stress responses of three groups, and found that the group who listened to music recovered much faster than the groups who listened to rippling water or nothing at all.
So try surrounding yourself with music more, and play a little something when you’re getting ready for the day, cleaning the house or preparing dinner. You might find that listening to chilled out music will make you feel that way, too.
10. Make furry friends
According to us, time spent with pets is time well-spent.
According to research, it’s also a pretty effective way to tackle stress.
A study found that students reported decreased stress for as long as 10 hours after being around dogs. Studies find similar results in the presence of cats, so it’s likely that hanging out with other animals might help you feel less stressed, too – except for maybe lions, sharks, crocodiles, bears or mosquitoes.
To be safe, maybe stick to domesticated animals!
While these 10 techniques might help relieve stress for some people, it’s important to find out what works for you.
If chronic stress or anxiety is interfering with your life, make sure you talk to a professional who will help you work through underlying causes and what you can do about it.