It’s important to manage stress these days. Stress can be helpful or harmful, depending on the source. Stress is a physiological response that can help you run from fear or help you fight an enemy or help you hunt for food sources effectively. Our bodies aren’t able to distinguish from the stress that can arise from a criticism from a boss or the stress that you might need to defend yourself from attack from that mountain lion—so consequently, we remain stressed even when our bodies could benefit from a smaller reaction.
Because it’s impossible to remove all sources of stress from our lives, it’s a very important skill to learn to manage the stress we do encounter. We may not be able to stop our bodies from overreacting and trying to send stress hormones because it thinks there’s a do-or-die situation occurring; but we can help our bodies and emotions recognize when it’s time to take it down a notch.
#1 Take care of yourself
Don’t underestimate the importance of drinking water, eating regular meals, getting enough sleep, and taking care of your house/room. It’s sometimes easier said than done but making the extra effort to take care of yourself is a way to stop yourself from getting stressed out in the first place.
#2 Get moving
Whether it’s a stretch after sitting for a long period at work, or a jog, or a quick walk up and down the office or school halls: get yourself moving. We all know how important exercise is but making sure you get your body moving will give you a clear head. The benefits of exercise are important to build strong bodies and help keep those feel-good neurochemicals circulating in your brain so you’re less likely to feel super stressed.
#3 Get outside
Breathing in fresh air is as good for the body as it is for the spirit. Getting outside into nature and just seeing green landscapes can be a mini reprieve from your worries. In fact, a study demonstrated that walking for nature for 90 minutes reduces brain activity in areas that process playing things over in your mind and worrying. For perspective, a walk of the same amount of time in a city/urban setting did not do anything to reduce the activity in the over-thinking region of the brain.
#4 Make time for Leisure
Making time for leisure is one of the best ways that you can manage stress. It can be anything that is restorative and relaxing to you, so this is highly individualized. Some people find playing games or board games relaxing, while others prefer to unplug and relax with non-activity. Whatever you do that makes you feel restored afterwards is leisure time well spent.
#5 Get Listening
Put on some easy listening or favorites you know all the words to and indulge your senses in beautiful music to help you relax and help take your stress off your mind. Combining music with exercise outside=win/win situation!
#6 Get Cooking
Cook or bake your stress away by creating something tasty and healthy for yourself to nourish yourself from the inside out. Cooking can be a great way to focus your mind on something else for a few hours, and it leaves you with something tangible and delicious.
#7 Get Your Vitamins & Supplements
If you’re having trouble managing your stress, you may already be behind in several vitamins and nutrients that can help your body and mind function at its best, non-reactionary state. Even if you’re watching your diet, it’s so easy to overlook at least one or more nutrients, vitamins, or minerals that can make a huge difference in how your body and mind registers and deals with its stress.
- Magnesium is one of the best stress-reducing minerals of which most people are deficient. It plays a role in over 300 processes in the body and directly influences neurotransmitters. It can help you deal with the stress you already have and can give your body an edge for stress recovery: magnesium is one of the minerals that becomes depleted with just the exposure to stress.
- Help your body adapt to stress with some of these adaptogens (herbs or plants which have long histories with traditional Ayurvedic or Traditional Chinese Medicine): Ashwagandha, Curcumin (a.k.a turmeric), and popular Rhodiola Rosea are some examples.
- Multi-vitamins can help you fill in the gaps in your diet or help you with absorption issues that are keeping you from being at the top of your game.
- Natural Sleep Aids: Since sleep and recovery is such an important part of managing stress (although it can sometimes be elusive), there are some gentle herbs and supplements that can help you without the harsh side effects regular sleeping medications can cause. You can find gentle herbs like lemon balm and valerian root in our Optimal Sleep Complex or try fast-acting melatonin drops that you can put under your tongue for those nights when it’s really hard to settle down to sleep.
Working on incorporating these stress management strategies will make a difference in your overall health while helping you take a deep breath and carry on.