If you’re stressed—something most of us have dealt with at one time or another—you’re probably feeling some not-so-fun physical and emotional side effects, like headaches, upset stomach, irritability, or eating issues. If you’re experiencing chronic stress, you’re also at risk for some serious health problems. Before you consider taking anxiety medication, check out these five ways to reduce stress naturally.
This no-cost natural remedy for stress only requires you to find a space that’s quiet (I’m talkin’ quieter-than-your-college-library quiet) where you can focus on your breathing and yourself—not your to-do list. You may think you don’t have time to relax, but you can increase mindfulness and reduce stress in only two short meditation sessions (or 15-30 minutes a day). Vows of silence not required.
Exercise in general is super helpful when it comes to reducing stress (gotta love those endorphins), but yoga is particularly well suited to improving your mood. Yoga teaches you about breathing techniques and body awareness (which come in handy during meditation). As with meditation, you needn’t practice yoga all day, er’day to reduce stress—but some poses are more relaxing than others, so focus on poses that specifically reduce stress, like the downward-facing dog and legs-up-the-wall poses.
Essential oils—like lavender, clary sage, or sweet orange—can help you relax, reduce tension, and feel refreshed. Place a diffuser in your bedroom or try rubbing a mixture of olive oil and lavender (one drop of lavender for every two tablespoons of olive oil) on your temples for extra stress relief. A warm bath with Epsom salt (an excellent source of magnesium, which is crucial to your health and wellness) and essential oils also offers relaxation benefits; try this recipe to make your own DIY lavender bath salts.
4. Herbal Tea
Herbs like chamomile, lemon balm, milky oats, and rose are common ingredients in teas that promote relaxation and stress relief; passionflower may even be effective as a substitute for benzodiazepine drugs (like Xanax and other anti-anxiety drugs). Some folks may experience relief simply from the aroma and the brewing process itself. You can find herbal tea bags or loose leaf tea at your local grocery or health food store—or, if you’re feeling creative, you can make your own. It’s also a good idea to minimize your caffeine intake, so look for teas that are caffeine-free—and steer clear of coffee if you can (easier said than done, I know).
You know how good it feels to get a full night’s rest—and how bad it feels to lie wide awake all night because of stress. What you may not know is that missing sleep actually places more stress on your body. The simple resolution is to get more sleep, but putting that into practice will require some effort. You may need to change your sleep posture, evening routine, or bedtime habits—shutting down electronic devices earlier or adding in a mediation session, for instance—and make a concerted effort to get high-quality, consistent sleep. But for the morning after one of those nights you just can’t sleep, B vitamins can help fight fatigue—and stress. Double win.
These natural remedies for stress should help you feel better, but for comprehensive, long-term relief, you should use them in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Ultimately, try to recognize your stress triggers so you can limit your exposure to them. After all, the only thing better than reducing stress is not having it in the first place.