Stress and anxiety are nearly unavoidable experiences in life, but there is much you can to do make these phenomena a lot more bearable. Read on for several tools and methods you can turn to when you really need to relax and wind down.
1. Herbs and Supplements
Plant medicine has been around for centuries, and a large number of herbs have been used for their soothing properties. Many herbs and supplements, such as chamomile tea, ashwagandha powder and CBD gummies, can calm your body and slow your mind thanks to ingredients that have been shown to block stress hormones and promote the production of feel-good chemicals in your brain.
The power of music therapy is widely recognized for its ability to redirect thought patterns and provide a pleasing sensory experience. A calming soundtrack or a playlist of favorite songs can trigger a positive emotional experience that may make you recall fond memories, bring up happy emotions or even make you want to get up and dance.
Physical activity is incredibly good for your physical and emotional health because of the flood of mood-boosting endorphins that is triggered by aerobic activity. While moderate physical activity is more likely to bring on a stronger flood of endorphins, even just going for a short walk can clear your head and get your body into a more relaxed state as you expend some of the stagnant, anxious energy that may be contributing to your sense of overwhelm and tension.
4. Deep Breathing
Long, slow deep breaths are a way to tell your body that it’s safe and free from harm, but the majority of the day is typically spent breathing shallowly or without intention. Take a few minutes to sit comfortably in a chair, relax your shoulders and breathe deeply, inhaling slowly through your nose and exhaling slowly through your mouth. You may also find that more methodical breathing exercises, such as belly breaths, pursed-lip breathing or alternate nostril breathing, are beneficial.
5. Grounding Exercises
During times of intense stress, the nervous system can become dysregulated and enter a fight-or-flight state that makes it hard, if not impossible, to relax. In these cases, grounding exercises can help to bring you back into your body and recenter yourself. Acknowledging your senses by noticing what you can see, hear, smell, touch and taste can help you to feel more level headed on your way to feeling grounded and relaxed.
When anxious thoughts seem to fill your head, it can be helpful to give them another place to go rather than give yourself the sole responsibility of holding them inside your mind. Grab a piece of paper or a journal and write down a stream of consciousness, a list of things that are bothering you, a list of things you’re grateful for or any other thoughts that may unburden you when released.
7. Hot Showers and Warm Baths
Stress is as much a physical experience as it is a mental one. Muscle tension responds well to warmth, which triggers relaxation and can help you to feel calmer even when your mind seems to be running a mile a minute. Submerge yourself in a warm bath or take a hot shower to soothe your system while you make efforts to soothe your mind with other relaxation techniques.
Scent is one of the most powerful senses due to the location of your brain’s sensory processing center in proximity to your emotional processing regions. Find a few soothing candles, load calming essential oils into a diffuser or pick up a favorite fruit, lotion or air freshener to catch soothing aromas on tougher days.
9. A Distraction
Sometimes the best course of action is to completely switch gears away from whatever has you feeling stressed and anxious. Find an enjoyable activity, even if it doesn’t seem obviously relaxing, to engage with and get your mind off other, more stressful things, whether that’s a favorite hobby, a phone call with a friend, a craft, a simple chore or a good book.
Article by Born Realist