Even without a global pandemic on our hands, stress is an all too common issue in our daily lives. The addition of a possible second wave, self-isolation, employment worries, and an endless flow of negative news makes it natural to be feeling more stressed than usual. Though a little stress can be used as a motivating force, many of us are feeling overwhelming mental and emotional pressure.
As well as lowering your general quality of life, being under prolonged stress also negatively affects your immune system; something none of us want right now!
To help you stay relaxed, here are our top 6 tips to relieve stress naturally.
Eat mood-boosting foods
Certain foods can aid in balancing cortisol (the stress hormone) levels and alleviating stress. Dark chocolate (aim for a variety with at least 70% cocoa), pears, pumpkin seeds, turmeric, avocados, bananas, and probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, and yoghurt all help balance your cortisol levels. Additionally, complex carbohydrates (like oatmeal, legumes, and sweet potatoes) help boost your serotonin levels, which reduces stress and can improve your mood.
Move your body
Regular exercise helps lower your cortisol levels and release endorphins; happy hormones which work to lower stress levels and enhance your mood. Walking or jogging in nature is great for putting your body into a meditative state, while yoga can help you feel grounded and promote relaxation.
Heightened stress levels can affect your ability to fall asleep and your general quality of sleep. An often overlooked factor, getting a good night’s sleep aids in regulating your stress response by controlling cortisol production in the body. Ensure you’re catching at least eight hours of sleep a night; if you’re having trouble drifting off, check out our tips to fall and stay asleep here.
Put your phone away
While technology is useful for staying connected, constantly being reachable can be tiring. To reduce your stress levels, take regular breaks from technology, whether it be by leaving your phone at home when you exercise, enjoying a tech-free dinner with your family, or making an effort to turn your phone off a couple of hours before bedtime.
Mental stress can often result in physical symptoms like a faster heartbeat, rapid breathing, and constricted blood vessels (which is why you may feel a ‘tightness’ in your chest when stressed). Finding a deep, rhythmic breathing exercise can aid in activating your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the relaxation response and helps you calm down.
Clean your way to calm
While cleaning may not be everyone’s favourite activity, mindfully taking part in routine activities can be a stress reliever. “While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes, which means one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes,” Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk. Approaching everyday tasks like washing the dishes, doing the laundry, and cleaning the bathroom with a sense of awareness, intention, and mindfulness can be beneficial in keeping you grounded and reducing stress and anxiety levels.
So, next time you’re on dish duty, enjoy lathering up your plates, breathe in the uplifting scents of lemon myrtle and mandarin in our Natural Dish Soap, and scrub your stress away.