November 30, 2017
We can’t always control sources of stress in our lives, but we change how we react to them. The good news is this: The human body is actually designed to experience and handle stress, which is exactly why our bodies react to it so strongly. With some practice, we have the power to learn to use certain elements of stress to our advantage (for example, the fact that stress keeps us more alert and attentive), while better controlling other negative reactions (like digestion problems or giving in to cravings for unhealthy foods).
So, what are the best stress relievers available to us, and how can we ensure we don’t allow stress to control our lives? If you adhere to the following eight practices, you’re sure to feel less pressure and better manage your stress on a daily basis.
1. Exercise and Yoga
One of the best stress relievers available to us is exercise, a natural remedy for anxiety because it releases powerful endorphins in the brain, which act like the body’s built-in painkillers and mood-lifters.
Research suggests the negative effects of stress on the body seem to be exaggerated in people who are inactive, a phenomenon called ”stress-induced/exercise deficient” phenotype. Because we react to stress by experiencing changes in our neuro-endocrine systems, regular exercise is protective because it regulates various metabolic and psychological processes in the body, including reinforcing our natural circadian rythms, sleep/wake cycles, moods and blood sugar levels.
Exercises improves insulin sensitivity, can help someone become more aware of their hunger levels, improves confidence/self-esteem, and leads to better mental processing and a lower risk for depression. Can't sleep? Well, exercise can help with that too, which is very important considering quality sleep is needed to regulate hormones and help the body recover.
Yoga has been shown to have similar benefits, reinforcing the “mind-body connection,” improving how people (especially women) feel about their bodies, helping with sleep and controlling anxiety. A review of over 35 clinical trials that tested the effects of regular yoga on stress levels and health found that, overall, yoga offers significant improvements in various physical and psychological health markers for the majority of people. Looking for an even more impactful way to feel the benefits of exercise? Do so while listening to uplifting music.
2. Meditation/Devotional Prayer
Meditation and prayer are both proven stress relievers that help people deal with worry, anxiety and finding peace of mind. Best of all, they can both be practiced conveniently anytime of day, in your own home and with no therapist, practitioner or program needed, making them a no-brainer. Meditation and prayer have been used for literally thousands of years to improve well-being and connection to others, but today they’re actually backed up by science as well.
Various other forms of meditation have been shown to lower physiological responses to stress, improve mental alertness, and help people overcome various emotional and physical problems, such as: anxiety, depression, poor mental health that affects quality of life, attention problems, substance use, eating habits, sleep, pain and weight gain.
Acupuncture has increasingly been used to treat many stress-related conditions, including psychiatric disorders, autoimmune or immunological-related diseases, infertility, anxiety, and depression. Researchers have found that acupuncture treatments result in changes in the cardiovascular and immune systems, increasing protective T-cell proliferation and helping with cellular immuno-responses.
Studies have shown that acupuncture is one of the best stress relievers for patients recovering from heart disease because it helps regulate the nervous system, therefore having positive effects on blood pressure levels, circulation, hormones and other factors. (9)
4. A Nutrient-Dense Diet
A steady supply of nutrients like essential vitamins, trace minerals, healthy fats, electrolytes, amino acids and antioxidants all help your brain handle stress better, therefore benefiting your entire body.
Some of the best foods for natural stress relief include:
Foods high in B vitamins — green leafy vegetables.
Foods high in calcium and magnesium — as relaxing minerals and electrolytes, calcium and magnesium are important for relaxing muscles, relieving headaches and helping you sleep. Try beans/legumes, leafy green veggies, cruciferous veggies like broccoli, avocados and nuts.
Healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids — nuts/seeds, avocado, olive oil and coconut oil.
On the other hand, foods to avoid in order to keep stress levels down include:
5. Challenging Your Thoughts with “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy”
(CBT) is a type of therapeutic practice that has been proven to lower anxiety, stress and multiple disorders — including addiction, eating disorders, insomnia and depression. Knowing that at least 50 percent of the time experiencing a mental disorder is due mostly to chronic, untreated stress reactions, therapists use CBT to train all types of people to better react to situations that are stressful.
6. Spending More Time in Nature and Being Social
Making time for connecting with the people around you, spending time outside and doing things you love with family, friends and your spouse are all stress relievers that are good for your health in many ways. Social connection is tied to longevity, since it helps people feel like they’re a part of something larger than themselves and helps give them perspective. Being outdoors has some similar effects, reminding people that they’re one piece of a much larger universe, lifting their moods and making it easier to get good sleep.
7. Keeping a Journal
Keeping track of your emotions, both positive and negative, along with the events that can trigger them helps you identify what’s causing stress. A journal is an easy, effective way to monitor your state of mind throughout the day, focus on thoughts that cause you harm and figure out what’s really bothering you when you’re unsure.
A journal can also reduce stress by helping you to stay organized, such as listing out appointments, household responsibilities, job assignments or other tasks so you’re less frantic and likely to miss important deadlines.
8. Using Adaptogen Herbs and Essential Oils
Several adaptogenic herbs and essential oils have been shown to improve anxiety symptoms by reducing the effects that stress and cortisol have on the body. Adaptogens (including ginseng, ashwagandga, maca, rhodiola, holy basil and cocoa) are a unique class of healing plants that balance, restore and protect the body and make it easier to handle stress by regulating hormones and physiological functions.
Kevin W. Reese is giving away his 7 Day De-stress Challenge and you’re invited to join! Click Here to Register
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