3 Natural Ways to Relieve Stress and Anxiety
We all know how it feels to be under stress. It can impact health negatively. And high levels of stress and anxiety can even impact one's ability to function. Fortunately, there are several natural approaches that you can take to ease stress and anxiety.
Regular exercise improves overall health and one's sense of well-being. Exercise increases the production of endorphins, the brain's "feel good" neurotransmitters. Higher-intensity forms of exercise can also help ease tension by causing you to focus on a single activity, rather than on daily stressors. Physical activity can help mitigate symptoms associated with mild anxiety and depression as well.
Almost any form of exercise can help alleviate stress, so go with activities you enjoy. You'll be much more likely to stay in the habit of exercising if you enjoy it. You may also find that you need to schedule times during the week for physical activity; like anything else, you'll only be able to do it, if you make the time for it.
Aromatherapy- the use of essential oils for healing- is a powerful tool for promoting relaxation. With aromatherapy, essential oils may be inhaled or massaged into the skin for their healing benefits. It is still unclear exactly how aromatherapy works. However, we do know that the smell receptors in the nose communicate with the parts of the brain responsible for storing emotions and memories. Some researchers believe that when essential oil molecules are breathed in, they stimulate these parts of the brain and impact physical, emotional, and mental health. Essential oils also have a physiological effect on the body when applied topically. When essential oils are massaged into the skin, they are eventually absorbed into the blood stream, where they may interact with enzymes and hormones.
Essential oils can be used to help a person feel more relaxed and to ease stress, anxiety, and depression. For example, lavender may stimulate certain brain cells in a similar way that some sedative medications do. Other essential oils have therapeutic uses too. One of my favorite combinations is lavender and peppermint. Lavender helps counter stress, while peppermint is energizing and invigorating. If peppermint is too strong, try spearmint. Spearmint and peppermint have similar properties, but spearmint has a more subtle scent.
Citrus essential oils are commonly used in aromatherapy, too. They tend to have an uplifting effect and are wonderful for improving one’s mood. Diffusing lemon essential oil, for example, has a positive impact on mood and can help counter depression. Grapefruit essential oil is thought to stimulate hormones that have uplifting effects on the brain; it therefore helps to induce positive feelings and to help ease stress and anxiety.
Diffusers are often used in aromatherapy and are preferable to adding essential oils to simmering water because heat can damage them.
3. Fostering Healthy Relationships
Having positive relationships with other people- whether it's your spouse, children, siblings, or friends- goes a long way toward easing stress. As human beings, we are meant to connect with others, and feelings of disconnect can lead to anxiety. The hormone oxytocin (also known as the "love hormone") is released whenever we experience a positive a connection with another person. It is secreted during pregnancy, birth, and in infancy and also as the result of skin-to-skin contact when hugging or snuggling. Oxytocin decreases stress, anxiety, and depression. Levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, are also decreased in the presence of oxytocin.
We all experience stress from time to time. Thankfully, there are natural approaches that can be used to help manage it. What do you do to lower stress? Please comment below!
"Aromatherapy." University of Maryland Medical Center. Web. 6 January 2017.
Axe, Josh. "10 Lemon Essential Oil Uses and Benefits." Dr. Axe. Web. 9 January 2017.
"Exercise and Stress: Get Moving to Manage Stress." Mayo Clinic. Web. 21 February 2017.
"Health Benefits of Grapefruit Essential Oil." Organic Facts. Web. 9 January 2017.
Kolman, Sarah. "Improve Your Health by 'Cleaning Up' Your Relationships." Seventh Generation. 9 May 2016. Web. 21 February 2017.
About the Author
Katie Zapotoczny is a Verefina Affiliate and the creator of An Ever Green Life, a blog that seeks to empower readers to make changes that will improve their health and help protect our environment.