Feeling like the world is on top of you recently? You’re not alone. With Google searches for ways to relieve stress on the rise in recent years, it’s no surprise that we’re all looking for new and effective ways to get instant relief from anxiety and stress.
People from all walks of life experience depression, stress and anxiety every day. Factors such as work, health issues, relationship concerns and financial troubles contribute to heightened stress levels, and can consequently have a devastating effect on your mental and physical health.
To keep your overall wellness in tip top condition, it’s important to recognise when stress is a problem. If you are able to locate the cause, it's important to minimise negative influences as soon as possible - chronic stress may increase your risk of health conditions such as heart disease, depression and asthma.
Luckily, we’ve got the lowdown on some natural ways to relieve anxiety and stress! You can easily implement any of these 5 lifestyle changes today to keep any tensions at bay!
1. Get moving
It's simple - if you are feeling stressed, getting active could be the answer.
Exercise reduces the levels of stress hormones in the body and stimulates the production of endorphins (aka the chemicals in your brain that lift your mood!) Whereas physical activity actively relieves stress, sedentary behaviour may lead to poor mood and could even cause you not to sleep well.
Being more active day-to-day doesn’t have to involve going to the gym; walking, swimming or cycling are gentle but effective ways to keep those happy hormones flowing.
Yoga is also a fantastic low-impact workout that can slowly get you familiar with moving your body more. The best part is, you don’t even have to attend classes to become a pro yogi! There is a plethora of virtual yoga classes available online that you can do from the comfort of your own living room… so what are you waiting for?! By easing your way into a more active lifestyle, you are more likely to form healthier habits and get that much desired instant relief from anxiety and stress!
2. Revamp your diet
You are what you eat! Food is fuel and affects every aspect of your wellness, that includes your mental health too. Believe it or not, what you consume may have the power to provide natural stress and anxiety relief and here are the reasons why:
Quality over quantity
It’s easier said than done, but reducing your intake of processed foods like pizza, chocolate, and cheese can make a significant difference to your mood.
Although they may be delicious, foods that make your blood sugar rise and fall rapidly (think sweets, fizzy drinks, and alcohol) may cause you to eventually feel drowsy, bad-tempered and depressed. Whole foods such as bananas, oats, sweet potatoes and nuts release energy slowly, and will help to keep your sugar levels stabilised to avoid any extreme sugar crashes!
Essentially, including nutritious whole foods in your diet may help to:
- Improve your mood
- Enhance your energy levels
- Clear your mind
But where to start?! Gingered Apple Oats are ideal for adding some energy-boosting nourishment into your diet - or for those with a more savoury tooth, Miso Tofu and Ginger Ramen is a filling and flavoursome way to get those essential vitamins to make you feel better from the inside out!
Listen to your gut
We’re always told to ‘trust our gut feeling’, but how often do we actually pay attention to our gut health? Incredibly, your gut can sometimes reflect your emotions. The gut and brain are connected by the vagus nerve, meaning that your emotive state can encourage your gut to speed up or slow down.
Adding probiotics and prebiotic-rich foods to your diet are a great way of maintaining a healthy gut flora. Probiotic foods such as yoghurt, apple cider vinegar and kimchi help to add diversity to your gut, which aids the normal function of the digestive system.
Although kimchi flavoured yoghurt doesn’t sound too appetising, weaving these fermented foods into your diet may contribute to natural stress and anxiety relief!
3. Reduce your caffeine intake
When we’re feeling a little bit under the weather, a cup of coffee tends to be the go-to to put a spring back in our step. Like chocolate, coffee contains the stimulant caffeine, which is commonly used to provide a quick energy boost. But remember, what goes up must come down! Excessive caffeine consumption may contribute to an array of health complications such as anxiety, insomnia and muscle breakdown.
As tempting as a vanilla latte may be, there are a range of caffeine alternatives that could help you to recharge your batteries without the nasty side effects:
- Decaffeinated tea/coffee
- Golden milk (dairy-free milk mixed with turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and other spices)
- Coconut water
From a creamy turmeric latte to rooibos tea, there are some deliciously healthier ways of getting an energy lift. But if you’re a self-confessed coffee addict and love your daily dose of caffeine, you can level up your coffee game with natural ingredients to boost the nutritional value of your brew.
Struggling to sleep? Cutting out the caffeine will help you sleep well too!
4. Prioritise self-care
Finding space in your day for a little bit of ‘me time’ is one of the best natural remedies for stress and anxiety relief. But what is self-care? Self-care is defined as ‘what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health’. The concept of self-care can be reflected in a range of simple, everyday actions such as:
- Walking in nature
- Reading a good book
- Practising yoga
- Writing down your thoughts
- Burning essential oils and candles
With many deeming self-care as a critical component of wellbeing, studies have suggested that those who dedicate time to doing things they enjoy have lower levels of anxiety and are less likely to experience burnout. Saving some time for yourself is the best way to maintain mental and physical health in a way that is completely sacred to you. Do what makes you happy, you’re worth it.
So, if you’re looking for an effective way to relieve anxiety and stress, dust off your yoga mat and light those lavender-scented candles! You can thank us later.
5. Talk to a loved one
With many of us regularly working from home, it's easy to forget to make meaningful connections with others. Long gone are the days of working in a bustling office - instead, we are spending the majority of the working week at home, alone, tapping away in front of a computer screen. Although your productivity may be soaring through the roof, extended periods without any social interaction can make you feel isolated.
Venting to a familiar face may provide instant relief from anxiety and stress - a problem shared really is a problem halved. When you’re feeling low, sharing your feelings with a friend, family member, colleague or neighbour can help you put things into a more positive perspective.
Having a strong social network is crucial for psychological and physical health and contributes to the maintenance of overall wellness and longevity. So when you feel the blues coming on, call an old friend for a catch-up, or organise to meet up with your colleagues at your local café! Strong relationships with your loved ones are important to any healthy lifestyle – being reassured by a voice you trust can help to take the weight of stress and anxiety off your shoulders.