Tips & Tricks for Natural Stress & Anxiety Relief
Stress and anxiety can be overwhelming. According to the American Psychological Association, 2 in 3 adults (67%) say they have experienced increased stress over the course of the pandemic in 2020, and nearly half of adults (49%) stated that their behavior has been negatively impacted by this increased stress.
While stress is often unavoidable, there are many natural ways to manage stress so that it does not limit your life or happiness.
Physical activity is commonly cited as one of the best ways to reduce stress. While everyone has their own health realities to contend with, especially as we get older, even something as simple as a daily walk can have a significant impact on stress and anxiety levels. Everyone has their own approach to exercise. Whether it is the adrenaline fueled charge of endorphins from a kick boxing match, or the much calmer release of a Pilates session, or simply a jog through the park, find the approach that works best for you, and stick to it.
Meditation and mindfulness may be another excellent way to resolve anxiety and day to day stress. According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, the use of meditation increased more than 3x in the US between 2012 and 2017, and its popularity continues to grow.
There are various approaches to meditation, but most have several elements in common -- a quiet distraction-free setting, a relaxed posture, and a specific focus for your attention - this could be breathing, a mantra, or even an object - in order to let distractions and anxieties come and go naturally. Whether through an app, podcast, YouTube guided videos or as part of another mindfulness practice, meditation is a useful and easy tool to add to your stress management arsenal.
Controlling what you put into your body, whether by supplementing your diet, or limiting intake of certain substances, is another powerful way to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
For example, caffeine is a fairly strong stimulant that can trigger your “fight or flight” response, and studies show that this can make anxiety worse or even trigger an anxiety attack. According to information published in The Journal of Psychopharmacology, effects of caffeine are generally positive, except for in sensitive groups or with ingestion of large amounts. Thus, like all things, it is essential to consider the quantity and frequency of consumption to avoid negative impacts on health, stress and anxiety, especially for those of us who may be more sensitive.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are numerous supplements and foods that have been studied for their ability to modulate stress and anxiety. For example, L-theanine is thought to work by decreasing “excitatory” brain chemicals that contribute to stress and anxiety while increasing brain chemicals that encourage a sense of calm.
Chamomile is synonymous with calm, making it among the most well-known stress-soothing botanicals. One 2016 study found that long-term use of chamomile extract significantly reduced moderate-to-severe symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. While any number of supplements can be consumed on their own for potential benefits, products like The Functional Chocolate Company’s Carefree Bar that purposefully stack several clinically researched ingredients and powerful botanicals may maximize potential effects on stress and anxiety.
While stress and anxiety will inevitably arise in everyday life, there are plenty of easy ways to reduce their effects. What will you do today to make your life better?