I have a confession to make: I have a tendency to stress out. A lot. Sometimes it’s over common issues like money or time-consuming commitments. Other times it’s because it seems like every bit of our tiny space is covered with small building blocks with dangerous, jagged edges (also known as Legos).
Thankfully, I’ve learned several ways to lower stress naturally over the years and, when I remember to implement them, they work wonders for bringing my stress level down.
When we get stressed, we tend to tighten up and stop breathing. I find myself holding my breath a lot when I’m stressed, which does nothing to help me feel better. When I notice I’m doing that, I intentionally stop what I’m doing and take several deep breaths – in through the nose and out through the mouth. I can feel myself calming down during this process.
2. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is known to have sedative effects on the body (one of its many uses) and is a helpful herb to use for stress, depression and anxiety. My favorite way to take lemon balm is as a tea because it tastes delicious iced or hot and can be enjoyed throughout the day. Drinking a cup shortly before bedtime also aids with sleep.
Using a tea strainer or tea ball, steep 1 tsp of dried lemon balm leaves in 1 cup of hot water (boiling is preferred) for 5 minutes. Feel free to make a larger batch if you want to sip on it throughout the day. (Find organic lemon balm leaves here.)
*If you are pregnant, consult your healthcare provider before drinking lemon balm. Recommendations are mixed on whether it’s a good herb for pregnancy or not.
Frankincense essential oil is one of my new favorites, as it has so many uses. One use is for stress prevention and relief. For prevention, I rub a drop either on the bottom of each foot or behind my ears in the morning (based on what I feel like I need).
If I find myself stressed in the middle of the day because, say, I stepped on another Lego, I will put a drop of lavender and frankincense in the palm of my hand, rub my hands together and then cup them over my nose. I inhale deeply a few times and repeat every ten minutes if needed.
Lavender essential oil is a calming oil. While I use it often before bed to help us calm down and get to sleep, I also use it to prevent and relieve stress. I usually layer it with frankincense in the mornings and use both like I mentioned above when I’m feeling stressed during the day.
I also like to diffuse lavender essential oil in our bus to promote calm, as my stress tends to stem from chaos.
Research suggests that there’s a link between magnesium deficiency and how your body reacts to stress. (source) One of my favorite ways to make sure I’m getting enough magnesium is by taking baths with Epsom salt (and lavender and frankincense essential oils). Ok, so I’ll take any excuse to take a bath, but I think it’s a really good one.
Magnesium is best absorbed through the skin (taking oral supplements may cause diarrhea), so magnesium-rich baths are great. Magnesium oil or lotion can also be applied throughout the day.
Acupuncture can help block chronic, stress-induced elevations of stress hormones in the body. (source) This is good news because acupuncture is a holistic, painless (most of the time, anyway) way to care for your body.
I’m a huge fan of getting to the root of the problem to figure out how to fix it. Perhaps your stress is being caused by clutter – a cluttered home, schedule or mind. Maybe it’s time to downsize a bit and simplify.
What can you say no to that would relieve your stress? What could you sell or give away? Could you start a journal to get your racing thoughts out of your mind and onto a place where they don’t seem so burdensome?
Sometimes what we need most is an attitude shift. (I know I do.) One of the most helpful things I’ve done to prevent stress is cultivate an attitude of gratitude. And to be totally transparent is sometimes really hard.
If that’s the case, start with the small things, like air, water and shelter. Then move on to others like your family and friends. Keep going from there to the big things and the small things in your life that you’re grateful for. Try to make a habit of giving thanks throughout the day.
If you’re like me, you don’t need anyone to twist your arm to get a massage. But if you feel like you need a good reason, consider this one of them. Massage therapy is not only good for releasing tension and easing sore muscles; it’s also a great way to help you prevent and reduce stress.
10. Orange Essential Oil
Orange essential oil smells amazing and is a great essential oil to have on hand for your DIY projects. It’s also useful for reducing stress and anxiety. According to the Mayo Clinic, citrus essential oils are useful for curbing stress and anxiety, nausea, and aiding in digestion. (source) Diffuse essential oil in your home or inhale the oil deeply from the bottle.
What are your favorite ways to lower stress naturally?
image by JE Theriot