10 Tips to Reduce Stress
April is stress awareness month, so I have listed 10 (hopefully very easy to implement) Naturopathic tips to help reduce stress levels every day of the year and not just this month!
Stress can be emotional, physical or at a biochemical level but it all impacts on the body’s response causing an increase in stress hormones and inflammation. Stress can also show itself in lots of different ways, not just through the more obvious and well-known ways like back pain and tension. Other ways stress displays itself is through temper, anxiety, depression, skin conditions, IBS, hair loss and more. Some of the below might seem a bit odd, but they all help to calm the mind, reduce muscle tension and keep internal stress and inflammation lower. Any questions about anything, get in touch.
- If you have a bath at home, have a bath before bed regularly. Being in a nice hot bath (but not too hot as that stresses the body out. You don’t want to be in the bath bright pink and sweating!) throws us back to being in the womb which was our safest time. It helps to turn off the ‘fight or flight’ response and turn on the ‘rest and digest’ nervous system which is the one we want to activate most of the time. You will find it much easier to go to sleep after having a bath as it’s so calming. If you want, you can put Epsom Bath Salts in as well. These are magnesium-rich which help to reduce stress, tension and pain in muscles and nurture the nerves.
- Read a book before bed – a paper book, not one on your phone/tablet/computer/backlit kindle. If you have an original Kindle that isn’t backlit, you can use that. Using anything that is backlit before bed stimulates us and wakes us up. This is stressful as it means that we don’t feel sleepy/go to sleep when we should. (Don’t read the news before bed, as that is anything but relaxing and soothing).
- Get at least 7 hours, ideally nearer 8 hours sleep. If you get less than that you aren’t functioning properly and that stresses every cell in your body out all the time. It also probably means you are drinking too much caffeine and eating too much sugar to get through the day.
- Breathe properly. Take a moment in front of a mirror and put one hand on your chest and one hand on your tummy, take a few deep breathes and see which hand moves. It’s probably the one on your chest but it should be the hand on your tummy. Using your shoulders rather than your diaphragm to breathe means that you are technically hyperventilating all the time as your carbon dioxide and oxygen levels are out of balance. Whilst you aren’t aware of this, it can make you feel anxious and on edge all the time. It will take practice and focus, but the more you concentrate on using your diaphragm to breathe with, the more naturally it will come.
- Try and stay away from caffeine and refined sugar in the afternoon and evening – easier said than done I know. These stimulate you and cause a stress response in the body. If you want something sweet in the evening, you can have a naturally sweet herbal tea like peppermint and liquorice or a naturally sweet fruit tea that can tick that craving.
- Eat as many anti-inflammatory foods as possible – garlic, red onion, turmeric, ginger, oily fish, nuts and seeds, eggs and leafy green vegetables. Ideally in homemade meals that aren’t full of chemical stabilisers, flavourings and sugar.
- Get out of the office at least once a day for a walk and go to the nearest green space. Being by trees, grass and flowers makes us feel good and has a calming impact on us. (It’s why NHS Scotland now prescribes being in Nature for patients).
- We are on our phones/computers all the time. Sadly it’s a part of modern life. So why not have your screen saver/home screen as a photo that makes you smile and feel happy. Smiling and feeling good every time you see it will have an accumulating positive impact on you and how you feel throughout the day.
- The citrus essential oils are brilliant for lifting the mood – lemon, lime and orange – always get organic if you can. You can put a drop of each on a tissue to inhale during the day.
- If you struggle with sleep, buy an organic lavender essential oil and put a couple of drops on a tissue under your pillow to help you drift off to sleep. It’s also a really great time to practice breathing with your diaphragm.