Stress is a response that occurs naturally within your body. It’s a built-in biological reaction that occurs when your body releases hormones in face of stressors or factors it perceives as a threat or challenge. This can be anything from a car jam to a work conflict to a natural disaster.
Stress is something we all experience, and nearly 84% of Americans reported feeling at least one symptom of prolonged stress in 2021. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s healthy. In fact, exposure to chronic stress can lead to both physical and mental health issues, including heart disease and anxiety.
Everybody is different, and for the sake of your health and well-being, it’s important to find relief that works specifically for you. The following natural stress relief options may help you avoid or reduce all kinds of stress-related health effects—from digestive issues to trouble sleeping, headaches, and impacts on your mood.
Most healthcare providers agree that regular exercise is one of the best activities you can do for your physical health. But the benefits of exercise may extend further than your physical well-being and into your mental health and stress levels.
How? When we exercise, our brains release endorphins. Endorphins are powerful hormones capable of producing feelings of happiness. These endorphins may lead to decreased pain and stress levels.
Increased endorphins can also lead to relief for symptoms related to stress, such as:
- Improved self-esteem – A study of middle-aged adults revealed that regular exercise could improve your self-esteem and self-image. An improved self-image may help you feel less stressed in social situations.
- Decreased depression – Because endorphins can produce feelings of happiness, increased endorphins may help you fight symptoms of depression. Since stress and depression are often interconnected, reducing your symptoms of depression could help you feel less stressed.
In addition to releasing stress-relieving endorphins, exercise can also help build emotional resilience. Emotional resilience refers to your ability to deal with everyday stressors—both internal and external.
Exercises for Natural Stress Relief
Nearly any type of exercise can help relieve stress — it doesn’t have to be a marathon or high-stakes sporting event. Even five minutes of moderate daily aerobic exercise may be enough to reduce your anxiety and stress.
Here are a few examples of exercises that can lower stress and boost endorphins:
- Running or brisk walking
Even taking the stairs instead of the elevator when you have the chance can release significant endorphins.
In recent years, meditation has risen in popularity as a way to deal with life’s stressors, and the science is there to back it up. Meditation is now often prescribed by healthcare providers as a regimen to reduce stress or help with anxiety.
Studies suggest that meditation may have measurable physiological health benefits. A study published in 2014 showed that meditation could help balance your emotional reactivity, another term for how you process stress. This is likely because meditation helps reduce your body’s levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
Taking up a practice of meditation could not only help you prevent stress and its symptoms but also lean to deal with it better when it happens.
#3 Practice Yoga
In addition to potentially increasing your strength and flexibility, studies have shown that yoga may also help you deal with stress.
A study published in 2018 illustrates yoga’s possible stress-relieving benefits. In the study, ninety individuals who reported high levels of stress were assigned to either a yoga group or a non-yoga group.
Scientists recorded both groups’ reported stress levels at eight and 16 weeks. The study found that the yoga group reported less stress than the non-yoga group. These findings suggest that yoga may be able to help reduce stress when practiced regularly.
#4 Change Your Diet
Nutritionists have long studied the relationship between diet, mood, and stress. While more research still needs to be done, studies suggest that eating the right healthy foods can help regulate your mood. Additionally, certain vitamins and minerals may also help regulate your body’s stress hormones.
Vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that may curb stress hormone production include:
- Vitamin B
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Incorporating more of these vitamins, minerals, and nutrients into your diet or taking them in supplement form may help lower your stress levels. Let’s take a closer look at how these natural stress relievers work:
According to a 2019 study, increased Vitamin B consumption may help reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety.
To increase your Vitamin B levels naturally, consider eating Vitamin B-rich foods, including:
- Pinto beans
- Leafy greens
- Fortified grains
You can also increase your consumption of B vitamins through high-quality supplements.
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Like Vitamin B, Magnesium has also been found to regulate stress hormones. One 2017 study found that adding more magnesium to your diet can lead to lower levels of peripheral and central cortisol.
Magnesium-rich foods include:
- Dark chocolate
- Pumpkin seeds
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids may be yet another form of dietary natural stress relief. One study discovered that Omega-3 fatty acids might regulate stress and inflammation.
Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids include:
- Chia seeds
- Olive oil
- Other plant oils
Proteins are important for many of your body’s natural processes—everything from making new cells to balancing your hormones. If you don’t have enough protein in your diet, you might experience health symptoms.
A study published in 2011 supports the idea that how much protein you eat can affect your stress levels. While these findings don’t definitively prove that protein deficiencies can make you feel more stressed, they do demonstrate a potential correlation.
You can get plenty of protein from animal products like meat and seafood - and if you are a vegetarian, there are lots of plant-based proteins to choose from as well. Here are a few: Tofu Beans Lentils Edamame Nuts and seeds Nutritional yeast
Foods to Avoid
Aside from eating a diet full of foods that can help reduce stress, you may also want to limit foods that can increase your stress levels. These foods include:
- Simple carbs
- High-sugar foods
These foods can increase your stress hormones, so if you are looking to reduce stress in your body, try limiting these and replacing them with more of the nutritious foods mentioned above.
#5 Spend More Time Outside
We all have to spend some time inside for work, sleep, school, and various other parts of our lives—but spending too much time indoors may negatively impact your mental health.
If you’ve ever felt noticeably calmer after going for a walk outside or spending time in a park, that’s no coincidence - some research suggests that nature may be a form of natural stress relief. How? Spending time in nature may help you build emotional resilience.
Scientists theorize that nature builds emotional resilience in two ways:
- Stress reduction theory (SRT) – Stress reduction theory states that nature can reduce stress by providing mental and physical stimulation.
- Attention restoration theory (ART) – Attention restoration theory argues that nature can help you focus. In this way, nature may function as a more immersive form of meditation.
Here are a few ways you can benefit from the potential stress-relieving effects of nature:
- Group nature walk
#6 Limit Your News Intake And Social Media Use
News and other media can be a crucial part of how we stay connected with the world. While not all types of news and media may cause stress, evidence suggests that consuming too much of certain kinds of it may contribute.
A 2022 review of studies reported that consuming too much news could cause you to feel emotional distress, especially when you scroll through troublesome or problematic news every day—or for some people, multiple times a day.
Another type of media that may have you feeling more stressed is social media. Although it connects us with one another, a 2020 study found that social media isn’t a good enough replacement for interacting with your friends and family in real life. In addition, too much social media use was shown to increase feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress.
If you find yourself feeling more stressed after watching the news or spending time on social media, you may want to limit your intake. Start by only looking at the news once per day, or setting a timer to remind yourself when to take a break from your favorite social media platform.
#7 Incorporate Adaptogens Into Your Diet
Adaptogens are powerful herbs, plants, and mushrooms that can help your body respond to stress. These natural stress relievers can pack a host of benefits, including:
- Anxiety relief
- Trauma support
- Energy support
- Immune system support
Several plants and mushrooms fit the adaptogen criteria. Here are a few of the most common:
- American ginseng
- Asian ginseng
Ashwagandha may be particularly helpful as a natural stress remedy. A study published in 2019 found that a once-daily 240 mg serving of ashwagandha can provide stress relief.
To increase these potential stress-relieving benefits, look for supplements containing ashwagandha alongside other powerful adaptogens.
Find Stress Relief Naturally
For most of us, stress is a part of life. But even if you can’t eliminate stress altogether, seeking out natural stress relief can help reduce the impact of stress on your mind and body.
To ensure your body has the support it needs to stay calm and healthy throughout these events, nourish it with healthy supplements and adaptogens. SuperYou® is our daily stress management supplement. It combines four potent, sustainably sourced adaptogens that help regulate cortisol to improve energy, mood, and focus.
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