1. Improve Your Diet
One of the best ways for relieving stress is to be mindful of the food you eat. Don’t just eat to keep yourself physically healthy, though. Focus on your mental health as well. If the brain doesn’t have the nutritional support it needs, it can’t function well. One of those functions is relieving stress.
To make sure your mind doesn’t amplify problems, give it the vitamins and minerals it needs. Anti-stress “brain food” also includes amino acids, antioxidants, and healthy fats.
Sound complicated? It’s actually easy to get the stress-busting nutrients the body needs from familiar foods.
- Protein – Your body is less likely to get into a fight-or-flight response when it gets the amino acids it needs. You can get them from high-protein foods. These include lean chicken, fish, and beef. Dairy foods such as cheese, milk, and yogurt also deliver protein. Vegan options include beans, nuts, and seeds.
- Healthy Fats – Saturated fat and greasy foods are bad for you. Not all fats are created equal, though. Healthy fats lower internal inflammation, which usually happens when you’re under chronic stress. The anti-inflammatory action keeps your mood from spiraling as well. You are less likely to develop anxiety. The omega-3 fats to include in your diet include salmon and sardines. Avocados, olive oil, seeds, and nuts provide other healthy fats.
- B Vitamins – Having enough energy to combat anxiety is key. B vitamins deliver that energy enhancement. Eat plenty of poultry, fish, and lean beef. Eggs and yogurt are also rich in B vitamins. If you’re eating vegan, up your intake of green leafy vegetables and B-fortified bread and grains. You can also add brewer’s yeast to casseroles, smoothies, and other foods.
- Calcium and Magnesium – These minerals help in relieving stress by promoting sleep, fighting headaches, and easing muscle tension. Good sources include yogurt, skim milk, nuts, avocados, broccoli, beans, lentils, and salmon. Leafy greens like kale, collards, and spinach also boost them.
Don’t forget to kick out the “bad guys.” Hangovers, stress, and anxiety often go hand-in-hand. Ditch the excess alcohol. You may also be drinking more caffeinated sodas and coffee than you realize. Caffeine is notorious for rattling nerves when you take in too much. It’s also important to avoid sweet or refined snacks.
That sugar rush you get from desserts and high-carb foods? It makes you jittery and then exhausted. Rich, greasy food also heightens the stress levels. They wreak havoc with your metabolism and cause internal inflammation, affecting your mood.
2. Add Soothing Botanicals to Your Life
Herbal supplements and essential oils are both known for relieving stress. Several herbs fall into a class known as adaptogens.
In layman’s terms, they’re good for what ails you! These general-healing herbs treat people with a variety of ailments. If anxiety is a problem for you, use adaptogen herbs to control those stress hormones.
Herbs that ease stress include licorice root and holy basil. Others are Indian ginseng and Korean (or panax ginseng).
Before you take them, ask your doctor about possible interactions with your medication. If she clears you to take these herbs, take them as herbal supplements. Some, like holy basil and licorice root, are also available as tasty teas.
Along with oral intake, inhaling botanicals can be soothing. Use products with real essential oil rather than fragrance oil. Lotions are one way to both smell and absorb their benefits. Essential oil diffusers also help by permeating the air with their beneficial qualities. For relieving stress, the best essential oils are lavender, bergamot, myrrh, and frankincense.
3. Seek Out Nature and Fellowship
Our mothers were right. Sometimes, getting away from our desk and chores helps ease nervous tension and promote relaxation. But, it needs to be the right kind of environment. After all, traffic and crowded department stores aren’t known for relieving stress.
One of the quickest ways to relieve stress is to do some breathing exercises. You can begin with these techniques from Caren Baginski:
Get outside and take a walk in the woods or at a park. An uncrowded beach also creates a relaxation response. Reach out to an old friend. Making a real connection with a loved one is a sure anxiety reliever. Your problems will feel less overwhelming if you talk them out.
These ways of relieving stress may feel overwhelming at first, but you can always do them gradually. You can even begin in small steps. Keep some sunflower seeds in your desk drawer or put some lavender oil on your hairbrush. These are little things that can enhance your health and well-being.