20 Natural Ways to Calm Down and Stress Less

20-natural-ways-to-calm-downOccasional stress happens to all of us, especially during busy holiday seasons. But too much stress can cause the body to break down . But don’t worry, there are things you can do to reduce and occasional stress naturally.

1. Eat Something Nourishing: “The connection between the gut and brain is huge — called the ‘gut-brain axis’ — and lots of interesting data supports the idea that the gut is a major mediator of the stress response,” says Dr. Drew Ramsey, an assistant clinical professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and the author of The Happiness Diet. So eat a handful of nuts, a piece of fresh fruit, or a healthy fat (avocado) when feeling stressed.

2. Have Some Raw Honey: Honey provides compounds that encourage a healthy inflammation response in the brain, meaning it may help support occasional stress and anxiety by improving overall brain function.

3. Drink Green Tea: Green tea has L-Theanine in it, which may reduce occasional psychological and physiological stress responses. This unique amino acid increases the brain’s alpha wave activity, which seems to reduce occasional anxiety and encourage feelings of relaxation and calm without drowsiness. Studies have associated taking L-Theanine with improvements in both mental alertness and stress response. *

4. Chew Gum: Chewing gum alleviates negative mood and may support cortisol levels during acute laboratory psychological stress.**

5. Be Silent: Studies have shown that talking, particularly on the phone, can lead to higher stress levels. Give yourself some silent time each day to reduce stress levels.

6. Go for a Walk: A walk will provide time for reflection, and can boost endorphins, which, in turn, reduces stress hormones. Any exercise will help to accomplish this, so get active.

7. Stop multi-tasking: It may seem more productive, but studies show that splitting focus can actually lead to more stress and less productivity. You are better of single mindedly focusing on one task until it is done, then move to another.

8. Meditate: Research shows two quick meditative sessions a day can help reduce stress and alleviate depression. ***

9. Go to a park or green space: A Washington State University study found that a group of stressed-out people who entered a room full of plants had a four-point drop in their blood pressure. Being around nature and plants can help reduce stress, so go to a green space, or put plants in your home.

10. Practice Deep Breathing: Slow, deep breaths can help to lower blood pressure and heart rate, relieve anxiety. ****

11. Massage your hands: They carry a lot of tension, and a five minutes, self administered hand massage can help to provide relaxation and even slow down the heart rate.*****

12. Get Organized: Letting things pile up, procrastination, and messes can all increase stress levels. Learn to plan and organize time, finances, and more to reduce stress.

13. Kiss more often: Kiss your spouse or loved ones. Kiss babies, kiss friends, and kiss just because. In a study of 2,000 couples, Northwestern University researcher Laura Berman, Ph.D., found that those who only kissed when they had sex were eight times more likely to report feeling chronically stressed or depressed.

14. Hang out with Friends: Friends aren’t just for having fun (which by the way can help you reduce stress as well), but friends can also help reduce the production of cortisol, leading to less stress. So spend time with your best friends regularly.

15. Try Knitting or anything Repetitive: According to Perri Klass, M.D., “Repetitive motions — like the fine motor skills used to knit, make jewelry or cross-stitch — can soothe anxiety.”

16. Stop Over-Committing: Taking on too much, committing yourself to too many things, and stretching yourself too thin is a natural human thing to do, but leads to high stress levels. Learn to say no. Learn to stop and ask yourself if you really should be doing that thing, or if you can say no.

17. Give Service: The feel good feelings you have when you give service will actually produce endorphins and serotonin leading to reduced stress. Do not over-commit, but focus outside yourself and your stress will decrease.

18. Eat healthier: Healthy eating can give our bodies what they need to better handle and fight the effects of stress. Eat anti-oxidant and nutrient rich foods to best set your body up for success. Stress is worse when you do not have the energy to deal with it.

19. Fix Something: Accomplishing something, mending something, or fixing something, even when it is unrelated helps you feel confident you can get through the problems leading to your stress.

20. Laugh: The act of laughing naturally reduces stress. Take a minute to watch a funny video, tell a joke, or hang out with someone who makes you laugh!

See stress management supplements here: Stress

Sources:
*Kimura, K., Ozeki, M., Juneja, L.R., et al. Nagoya University Department of Psychology, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya, Japan. Biological Psychology 2007;74(1):39-45.

**Scholey, A., Haskell, C., Robertson, B., et al. NICM Collaborative Centre for the Study of Natural Medicines and Neurocognition, Brain Sciences Institute, Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia. Physiology & Behavior 2009;22(7):304-12.

***A Randomized, Controlled Trial of Meditation for Work Stress, Anxiety and Depressed Mood in Full-Time Workers. Manocha, R., Black, D., Sarris, J., Stough, C., et al. Discipline of Psychiatry, Sydney Medical School, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney University, St. Leonards, Australia. Evidence-basedcomplimentary and alternative medicine. Epub 2011.

****Efficacy of the controlled breathing on stress: biological correlates. Cea Ugarte, J.I., Gonzales-Pinto Arrillaga, A., Cabo Gonzales, O.M. Universidad Pais Vaso, Escuela de Enfermeria. Revista de Enfermeria 2010;33(5):58-54.

***** The effects measurement of hand massage by the autonomic activity and psychological indicators. Kunikata, H., Watanabe, K., Miyoshi, M., et al. Department of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, Kawaga Prefectural University of Health Sciences, Kagawa, Japan. The Journal of Medical Investigation 2012;59(1-2):206-12.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/09/stress-relief-that-works_n_3842511.html http://zenhabits.net/20-ways-to-eliminate-stress-from-your-life/ http://greatist.com/happiness/40-ways-relax-5-minutes-or-less http://bembu.com/stress-relief

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