Short-term stress is a natural survival mechanism that can be beneficial in the right circumstances, like when we need to finish a task or when we’re in danger. But when the stress becomes a long-term chronic state it can be a direct threat to our health. The stress we experience in our modern life by constantly being connected can easily cause a so-called “information overload” meaning our nervous system becomes overstimulated and our stress hormone cortisol increases. We’ve gathered some simple yet effective habits you can implement to naturally keep your stress levels down.
Adaptogens are certain herbs and mushrooms known for helping the body resist stressors of all kinds, whether physical, chemical or biological. Simply put, adaptogens do for your adrenal glands what exercise does for your muscles. These herbs have been used for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions, but they’re having a well-deserved comeback in the modern wellness world. Some, like holy basil, can be eaten as part of a meal, and some, like ashwagandha and reishi are consumed as supplements or brewed into teas.
Typically when a person is under stress, their breathing becomes shallow, and they use their shoulders rather than their diaphragm to move air out of their lungs. This style of breathing disrupts the balance of gases in the body. Taking control of your breath is an extremely simple yet effective way to relieve these symptoms of stress. There are several different exercises to try, for example the 4-7-8 breathing technique, inhaling through your nose for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling through the mouth for 8 seconds. Doing this for a couple of rounds will bring your body into a state of deep relaxation.
When we’re stressed our thoughts tend to be focused on either the past or the future, and less on the present moment. Mindfulness meditation is an effective technique that brings us back to the awareness of the present moment. By paying attention to thoughts and sensations without judgment we can achieve a state of alert, focused relaxation. A good way to get started with a practice is by using apps such as insight timer, headspace or calm.
Exercise is a well-known method to relieve stress as it lowers stress hormones like cortisol, while boosting the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters; endorphins. It really doesn’t matter whether you’re dancing, lifting weights, running, or doing yoga, as long as you get your body moving. Just like mindfulness, exercise can help you come back to the present moment, by focusing on a single task. It’s basically like meditation in motion. Apps like JEFIT Workout Planner and Runkeeper may help you stay motivated and stick to your routines.
Hemp oil is a cannabinoid derived from the cannabis plant. It doesn’t contain any THC, meaning you won’t “high” when taking it. Though it’s been a widely discussed “treatment”, more and more people are turning to Hemp oil (also called CBD) to relieve symptoms of stress. According to some researchers hemp oil can activate some serotonin receptors, and the serotonin system is associated with alleviating anxiety. A 2019 study also states that hemp oil has a calming effect on the central nervous system.
Adding more greens to your diet can make a big difference for your mental health. Adding more leafy-green vegetables to your diet, such as spinach, kale, collards and mustard greens, can actually make a big difference for your mental health, as these greens are packed with stress-fighting nutrients. Serving as a rich source of magnesium and vitamin K, leafy greens can help regulate cortisol and blood pressure levels as well as reduce oxidative stress.
* You should consult a licensed health care professional before starting any dietary supplement.