If you don’t know how to chill out with relaxation techniques, you’re going to burn out…it’s inevitable.
Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to relax.
Instead, we default to coping mechanisms like Netflix and social media.
Sadly, many of us are so wound up that true relaxation sounds like a far-off dream.
Fortunately, there are plenty of natural stress relaxation techniques to help you de-stress.
Helpful Stress vs. Hurtful Stress
Did you know that not all stress is bad?
In fact, just the right amount of stress can help prepare you for future challenges.
However, if your stress response never shuts off, it can damage the body and brain.
This is called chronic stress, and it can trigger inflammation and promote disease.
For starters, chronic stress boosts levels of the hormone cortisol.
Over time, high cortisol can damage the gut lining and allow inflammation to spread throughout the body.
Chronic stress can also lead to the following conditions:
The worst side effect of stress, however, is that it can speed aging and lead to an early death. (1)
8 Stress Relaxation Techniques
Let’s face it, stress isn’t going anywhere.
However, this doesn’t mean that it has to dominate your life.
Try these eight stress relaxation techniques and put stress in its place for good:
1. Deep Breathing
“Take a deep breath!”
You’ve heard it a million times, but it’s actually some of the best advice you’ll ever get.
According to a 2010 study from Nepal, just five minutes of slow, deep breathing can significantly reduce heart rate and blood pressure. (2)
The power of deep breathing comes from its effects on the vagus nerve.
This important nerve runs down the length of the spine and controls the stress response.
When you breathe, the pressure is applied to the vagus nerve and it tells the body to relax.
All it takes is a few minutes of deep breathing to calm the nervous system.
2. Essential Oil Aromatherapy
Essential oils are your secret weapon for stress reduction.
The therapeutic compounds in essential oils are small enough to enter the bloodstream by breathing them in through your nose.
From there, they can do something that most compounds can’t: they can cross the blood-brain barrier.
Once inside, they’re able to calm brain activity and reduce stress.
For example, a 2014 study found that lavender essential oil can reduce anxiety in heart surgery patients. (3)
The best essential oils for relaxation are:
Meditation is the practice of focusing your mind and being fully present, and it’s one of the most powerful stress relaxation techniques there are.
In fact, a 2017 medical review concluded that mindfulness meditation can reduce several signs of stress, including:
Not only that, but studies show that meditation can even boost productivity. (5)
There are several different styles of meditation to choose from, including:
Mindfulness Meditation: Observing your thoughts and surroundings without judgment.
Mantra Meditation: Reciting affirmative statements.
Focused Meditation: Concentrating on one sensation or feeling, like mantra beads, a specific sound, or your breath.
Movement Meditation: Emptying your mind as you walk in nature. Yoga can also be a mediation if you do it with the right intention.
4. Exercise Regularly
While exercise might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of stress relaxation techniques, it’s actually one of the best activities for stress management.
Exercise reduces stress hormones, releases endorphins and improves mood.
Plus, it can even improve sleep quality.
The best part is, exercise doesn’t have to be hard to work its magic.
As a matter of fact, even light exercise, like going for a walk, can reduce stress.
Yoga is a form of light exercise that combines stretching with deep breathing and meditation.
Believe it or not, studies show that just a single session of yoga can boost GABA by 27%. (6)
GABA, by the way, is a chemical in the brain that reduces anxiety.
5. Eat an Anti-Stress Diet
Is your food stressing you out?
If you eat as most Americans do, chances are that the food you eat is increasing your stress.
For example, foods like sugar, bread, pasta, cereal, and french fries promote inflammation and spike blood sugar.
In the short-run, these foods can cause energy crashes and headaches.
However, over time they can also weaken the gut lining and increase stress hormone production. (7)
Instead, eat healthy fats like wild-caught salmon and coconut oil for stable energy, and fill up on leafy green vegetables that are high in electrolytes.
6. Spend Time In Nature
The natural sights, sounds, and sensations of the forest are naturally calming.
In fact, people who get out in nature are generally less stressed than people who live in cities.
For example, a 2014 study found that natural environments can enhance positive emotions and improve brain performance. (8)
The Japanese have been studying nature as a stress relaxation technique for decades.
They call it “shinrin-yoku,” and they’ve found that it can greatly reduce cortisol. (9)
7. Listen to Music
One of the best stress relaxation techniques is in your headphones.
As it turns out, music has the power to reduce stress fast.
In fact, one 2013 study found that listening to relaxing music can calm the nervous system in a matter of minutes. (10)
Some of the other health benefits of music therapy include:
Calms road rage
Music is even used to treat PTSD in war veterans and memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients. (11)
Not long ago, modern scientists saw acupuncture as an ancient practice with little evidence of its stress relief benefits.
However, modern research is finally starting to catch up.
Acupuncture is one of many traditional Chinese stress relaxation techniques that may help treat stress-related conditions.
In fact, at least 11 studies show that acupuncture can reduce anxiety. (12)
The only catch is that you have to be comfortable with needles.
During a session, long, thin needles are inserted into the skin to stimulate the nervous system.
Want to discover what other stress relaxation techniques might work for you?
Feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers for more advice about how to reduce stress.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have about stress management.