5 All-Natural Ways to Reduce Stress

Stress is bad for you. You know this. We know this. It’s not really big news. (For all the low-down on what stress is, how it affects you, and what to do about it, check out this MedicineNet.com article.)

But what are you doing to manage your stress levels? If you regularly feel worried, uptight, or anxious, you could probably be more proactive about reducing your residual stress.

Here are some all-natural techniques and activities you can do right now to melt your worries away:

Exercise

Exercise has some direct stress-busting benefits, according to the Mayo Clinic. Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Regular exercise is also a form of meditation, shedding away your distractions and worries to focus on a singular motion or activity. You’ll notice an increase in self-confidence and decrease in symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise can even improve your sleep (see below), which is often disrupted by stress, depression, and anxiety. We suggest you find activities you particularly enjoy, whether it’s ballroom dancing or hiking in the woods. If exercise is fun, you’re more likely to want to do it regularly.

Meditation

Meditation is a popular (and powerful) anti-stress technique, which brings about a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. During meditation, you quietly focus your attention and eliminate stressful thoughts and distractions. Regular meditation sessions can help you get a new perspective on what’s bothering you, while increasing your self-awareness and reducing negative emotions. Best part about it? Meditation is free and you can do it anywhere!

Reflexology

Reflexology’s underlying theory is that there are reflex areas on the feet that correspond or “reflect” specific organs, glands, and other parts of the body. Applying pressure to these reflex areas can promote health in the corresponding organs through energetic pathways. A session with a reflexologist begins with a calming action that relieves tense nerves and knotted muscles. Reflexology helps banish fatigue and sends a new vitality through the entire body. Learn more about how reflexology reduces stress.

Proper sleep

If you experience a high level of stress, you may find it difficult to fall asleep, or get a good night’s rest. In fact, 49% of Americans who don’t get enough sleep blame stress and worry, according to a recent sleep study. It’s a vicious cycle, too, because lack of sleep can make you feel even more stressed. Take steps to ensure a better quality of sleep, such as reducing your caffeine intake, slowing down at night, maintaining a regular bed and wake time schedule (including weekends), establishing a regular, relaxing bedtime routine, and avoiding alcohol and nicotine close to bedtime.

Eliminate harmful substances

Many people drink a glass of wine or smoke a cigarette to relax, but these substances (alcohol and nicotine) can actually have the opposite effect. Studies have found that nicotine intensifies stress. Feelings of calmness or pleasure during tobacco use are really just momentary reliefs from the unpleasant effects that come along with nicotine cravings (including stress). Those feelings of stress and anxiety will return once the nicotine leaves their system and the cycle begins again. Similarly, many studies show that alcohol actually increases the stress response by stimulating production of the same hormones the body produces when under stress. By kicking your nicotine or alcohol habits, you’re actually helping eliminate those unnatural stressors from your life.

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