7 Natural Remedies for Stress
Sometimes, it feels like the world is growing more dangerous—and stressful—by the day. Turn on the TV, and you’re bombarded with the latest terror attack, the latest crime in your county, the latest danger to hang, wordlessly, over your head. And, no matter what the ads tell you, the solution isn’t a fad product like the fidget spinner. And it’s not helped out by competing with—or even beating—the Jones’ down the street. In fact, we’ve invented new problems and worries for ourselves—it’s easy to forget your life will be just fine without the latest and greatest gadget. Maybe it’s because we’ve disconnected from nature in our day-to-day life, and in the process we’ve lost a part of something essentially human. Whatever the reason—and it’s probably a combination of all the above, plus countless other personal stressors—Americans are more anxious now than ever. But that doesn’t mean you have to join them. Today, I want to show you seven strategies for reducing anxiety in your life, and increasing your healthy calm, in an all-natural way.
Why Natural Remedies for Stress Matter
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental issue, affecting 18% of the population. But feeling anxious and stressed out doesn’t require a clinical diagnosis. Indeed, many people try to “tough” it out without seeking professional help or even revealing their high stress levels to those closest to them.
But it’s important to know that, left unchecked, stress is one of the leading contributors to illness. It increases the odds of heart disease, stroke, cancer—even the common cold, since stress beats down your immune system.
Simply put, the body’s response to stress does more harm than good, in the modern world—a world where the greatest stressors aren’t physical. It worked wonderfully when we had to dodge saber-tooth tigers. It does a much poorer job when we’re concerned about bills or our kids’ futures.
Stress is meant to give your body a quick shot of adrenaline, to resolve a short-term threat—like being attacked by a predator.
When stress is long-term—low level but nearly constant—the hormones associated with stress, like cortisol, do damage to your body.
Among other things, they prematurely age your cardiovascular system by constantly elevating your blood pressure.
Of course, eliminating stress entirely would be ideal—but that’s impossible.
The next best thing is to, at least, give your body a vacation from stress a few times a day. Even relaxing for a half-hour every day makes for an important breather—a chance for your body to reset.
That’s why I want to give you seven all-natural, super-healthy ways to relax over the coming week. You don’t have to try a different one each day—in fact, some you probably want to make part of a daily routine.
But you definitely want to get as much relaxation in as you can—this week, and every week after.
Natural Stress Relief #1: Take a Hike
Or a walk. Just get outside and get moving. There’s nothing like breathing fresh outdoor air, or thinking about new and interesting surroundings—as opposed to your usual worries. Many of humanity’s best minds—like Charles Darwin, Steve Jobs, and Isaac Newton—credited long walks with boosting their thinking.
And one researcher found that a simple ten-minute walk boosts your mood for the next two hours.
If you walk longer than ten minutes, your benefits will increase as well.
Natural Stress Relief #2: Take A Breath
We all know, when you feel yourself getting upset, you should take a breath and count to ten.
Counting gives your mind time to cool off. But it’s really the breath that does the heavy lifting.
There is, perhaps, nothing more peaceful than mindful breathing—that is, breathing with awareness, and with purpose.
Try it—you’ll see. Within moments, your focus on mindful breathing will melt away stressful thoughts and feelings.
Now, plenty of people are attached to their old habits of thought, so they’ll wind up selecting stress over mindful breathing.
That’s ok. It takes practice. You might think that breathing is the most natural thing in the world (it is), but paying attention to that breath—that takes attention!
And attention is like oxygen for stress. Devote it elsewhere, and you’ll wind up much more relaxed, without even trying to be.
Natural Stress Relief #3: Go to The Gym
When you read as many medical studies as I do, you notice one particular pattern emerge.
Every time there’s some new miracle cure or miracle drug, the proof of how good it is usually sounds something like “It’s almost as effective as exercise!”
We know the greatest natural cure in the world—one that beats nine out of ten drugs, in nine out of ten situations, and that’s regular exercise.
And while exercise is great for most problems, it’s even better for stress. Because there’s no better way to work out stress than to sweat it out.
Much like with breathing, good exercise demands your attention.
But unlike breathing, it also works out all the kinks and blockages in your body. There’s a reason the freshest you can ever feel is right after exercise (and a shower).
Nothing cleans your body out better. Nothing eliminates toxins faster. And nothing gives a faster rush of endorphins—the happy hormone.
Of course, exercise doesn’t have to mean sprinting or Olympic deadlifts. Go for a walk, a bike ride, do some yoga or stretches. Whatever you can do to get your blood flowing and break a little sweat with help do the trick.
Natural Stress Relief #4: Tune Out
We’re constantly bombarded by bad news, throughout the day.
Generations ago, folks worried that easy to access to the news would alter your view of reality. And that was just with the introduction of TV.
Now that you have a computer in your pocket, buzzing with information every few minutes, demanding your attention, the problem has gotten much worse.
And it can create a downward spiral. For instance, some people like to turn to social media for relaxation. But now, Facebook and Twitter are some of the biggest sources of stress-inducing news!
The simple truth is, while it’s good to be a well-informed citizen, we’ve taken it too far. If you want to keep up with all the information being thrown your way, you’d have to quit your job and cut back on your sleep. It’s impossible—and it’s unnecessary.
And it’s creating plenty of stress—from the news itself, and also from the pressure people feel to keep up.
Let it go.
Give yourself some quiet time each day. Turn off your phone. Keep the TV off, and hide the remote. Tune out the barrage of media. Disconnect from the hamster wheel.
Start off by giving yourself a half hour unplugged each day. Go for a walk, or pick up a book. Get away from all the screens in your life.
Odds are, you’ll immediately notice how much freer you feel, and how you haven’t really missed anything. For most of my patients, that half hour unplugged lengthens and grows—until you plug in just to perform essentials, and avoid the unnecessary.
Natural Stress Relief #5: Walk Barefoot In Nature
Reconnecting to the natural world is one of the fastest paths to relaxation.
And there’s no faster way to reconnect than to make physical contact with the natural world, usually through your feet.
Think of how good it feels to have grass between your toes, or to walk on a sandy beach. We’re increasingly disconnected from nature, and it shows.
That’s why a barefoot walk feels like a breath of fresh air, or a swig of natural spring water. Nature feeds your soul as nothing else can.
Some researchers also think that walking barefoot—grounding—has electromagnetic rebalancing effects. All I know is how good it feels, and how effective it is at restoring calm.
Natural Stress Relief #6: Get A Massage
For some people, an idle mind makes for racing worries. But, because massages are so powerfully relaxing, it’s hard to keep any negative thought string going long.
You’re more likely to fall asleep than stress out.
And a good massage doesn’t have to be a professional one, either. In fact, being on the giving end is almost as beneficial as being massaged, since so many of the benefits just come from touch.
So make massages part of your routine with a professional, a friend or a significant other, and feel better every day, not just on special occasions.
Natural Stress Relief #7: Take A Chill Pill
You don’t need prescription drugs to relieve stress.
There are plenty of natural alternatives that work as well, or often better.
For instance, GABA—gamma-amino butyric acid—is a naturally occurring amino acid that serves to cut down on mental chatter. There are a number of supplements that contain GABA. But that’s not the best way to get the positive effects.
You see, GABA is made in the brain, but has trouble crossing the blood-brain barrier when ingested.
Much better—and what I recommend—is l-theanine, a precursor to GABA. You should take 100-200 mg, once or twice a day.
And since these chemicals occur naturally in your body and in nature—green tea contains l-theanine—you don’t have to worry about adverse reactions or nasty side effects. These supplements help to quiet unfocused, distracting thoughts—nothing more.
Make some—or all—of these natural stress relief strategies a part of your routine. Try them out over time, or dive into them all immediately. The important thing is just to combat the stresses of the modern world. You’ll be amazed how far-reaching that little change will be.
- Why GABA Supplements Do Not Work… And What Does Work. Nootriment. Accessed May 25, 2017.
- Is L-theanine An Effective Anxiety Treatment? The Calm Clinic. Accessed May 25, 2017.
- 8 Facts About Anxiety And Anxiety Disorders. Elements Behavioral Health. Accessed May 25, 2017.
- Jabr, Ferris. Why Walking Helps Us Think. The New Yorker. Published Sep 3, 2014. Accessed May 25, 2017.