5 Natural Ways To Reduce Stress

Stress and anxiety have, unfortunately, become a normal part of modern life. Even when we think we have everything under control, stress has a way of creeping up on us. We encounter so much stress every day, and desperately need to find effective ways to reduce and manage it. Here are 5 natural ways to reduce stress.


Living in a hectic world that requires us to do all the things all the time makes us permanently at risk of chronic overload. This means our stress hormone, cortisol, has to work overtime, not exactly how our bodies were designed to be. And all this living in a state of chronic stress can have severe health repercussions.

The human body’s natural stress response was designed to kick in when our survival was threatened, not because we are 20 minutes late for an appointment, the kids are acting out (again!), or you have a deadline to meet!

Just how can we cope with all this stress? Our modern response is usually to turn to a prescription to help us cope. But it is better not to rely on prescription medications as they can often actually make things worse, or at best only offer only short-term relief. The problem itself doesn't go away.


Far better to try to reduce the stress in daily life and to use natural techniques that can help you to cope until the stress has been entirely eliminated, or at least reduced as much as possible.

Here are 5 natural ways to reduce stress:

Exercise

We all know exercise has numerous benefits for physical health, but it can also help to regulate stress and improve your emotional wellbeing. This is because exercise elevates levels of endorphins, our beneficial brain chemicals. These help to elevate mood, promote relaxation and counter stress which can help to reduce the negative effects of a stressful lifestyle.

Exercise also helps to increase your level of testosterone which has an inverse relationship with cortisol: so, as one goes up, the other goes down. For best results, try to exercise at least three times a week, and make sure to include weight bearing exercise in your routine.


Get a Massage

Stress not only affects our mind and our mood, it also, its physical effects can quickly manifest throughout your body too. Symptoms such as tense muscles leading to pain and an inability to sleep are commonly caused by stress.

Massage can help to address some of these physical symptoms of stress, such as pain and muscular tension. Some massage therapists are also trained in the art of acupressure, which involves using focused pressure at specific acupressure points throughout the body to get the chi (energy) flowing properly again.

Chi (or qi) is the body's life energy, and blockages can cause many physical problems which Western medicine struggles to explain. Acupressure is well documented to have a profound effect on reducing stress levels.


Eat Dark Chocolate

Eating any chocolate makes you feel better, right? Unlike milk chocolate, which is loaded with sugar and not much else, rich dark chocolate contains the compound epicatechin. This compound has many beneficial effects, such as improving heart health and brain function. It also has the ability to reduce the effects of stress.

Meditate

I genuinely believe that meditation should be taught in schools. There is no other technique that has such a profound effect on human health, yet most people do not practice any form of meditation, perhaps because they think it is either too weird or too difficult!

But meditation does not need to be complicated. It is simply focusing the mind on absolutely nothing beyond the immediate present. You can do this by focusing on one thought, word or colour and drawing your wandering thoughts back to that one thing.

Anxiety inevitably makes stress worse, and meditation is amazing at helping to eliminate worries about the past or the future. Use it to calm your mind from all the busyness and concentrate on what is happening right now. Focus on enjoying the small things and being grateful for what you have.


Laugh

Laughter is the best medicine, they say. Maybe. But it is certainly the number one enemy of stress. Having fun really can perform miracles, ranging from reducing blood pressure, mediating pain responses, and helping to manage the negative effects of the stress hormone cortisol.

When you are stressed it seems hard to take the time out to smile and have fun, but it is essential. Staying stuck in stress and anxiety simply feeds the flames of a downward spiral. Instead, make some time to watch a funny film or a stand up comedian, spend time laughing with loved ones, and try not to take life too seriously.

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