Of course, there are pharmaceutical remedies and unhealthy coping habits, such as binge eating or consuming alcohol. These solutions are either unnatural or just plain bad for your health. Some may even be dangerous. If given the choice to relieve your stress naturally, would you take it?
If so, keep reading. After a little digging, I’ve found science has proven the following are five of the best ways to combat stress holistically.
1. Mindfulness Meditation
Taking time to sit alone and focus on my breathing is one of my favorite ways to get rid of stress. All you need is a quiet space, a comfortable place to sit, and a bit of mindfulness. Then, you can use various mindfulness techniques to distract yourself from the thoughts in your head.
Meditation is called a practice for a reason. It is something you’ll probably have to continue to work on throughout your life. But it will be very rewarding work especially if you find that helps you de-stress.
Here’s one mindfulness technique that’s great for beginners. Once you’ve found your quiet, comfy spot, which can be in a chair or with your legs crossed on a mat, close your eyes. Then, begin to breathe in through the nose as you slowly count to four. At the top of the inhale, hold the breath for one second, and then slowly breathe out for another count of four and pause for one second.
Repeat this process for several breaths. Every time a thought comes into your head, imagine it floating away as you exhale. After a while, your mind will begin to clear. What’s exciting is that scientists at the University of Utah have proved that this practice of breathing mindfully is an effective therapy for stress management and anxiety.
There are many ways you can help your mind stay present during mindfulness meditation. For example, you can employ aromatherapy by adding a few drops of pure doTERRA lavender oil to your favorite diffuser. This creates a calming space and helps you maintain your focus.
Yoga is a movement and breath technique that many people also call a practice. It was first brought about in Northern India more than 5,000 years ago. While this ancient movement modality might have seemed exotic at one time, in today’s world, it’s difficult to throw a stick without hitting a yoga studio in most large cities.
While the postures of this tradition are wonderful for the physical body, the breathing aspect does wonders for the mind, similarly to meditation. Interestingly enough, many researchers have shown that the breathing techniques employed in yoga have a lasting impact on disorders caused by stress, as in this study at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
3. Go for a Walk in Nature
A lot of our time is spent indoors. When you think about it, you realize that we live inside, eat inside, sleep inside, work inside, and entertain inside…at least for the most part.
When we do go outside, some of us are surrounded by concrete and steel with barely a tree in sight. As it turns out, the more trees the better. A study published in 2010 by scientists at Chiba University in Japan showed that the simple act of walking through a wooded area lowers blood pressure and cortisol, which is the hormone related to stress.
Of course, not everyone has easy access to a forest. Nevertheless, most urban areas have parks, which are absolutely perfect for taking a walk. If you are concerned about safety, find a walking buddy. As well, early morning hours are often a great time to take a stroll through the woods or at your local park, to help you feel less stressed throughout the day.
If you are a person that gets exercise on a regular basis, then you know that this is one of the best ways to combat stress holistically. A study conducted by the University of Maryland showed that even moderate exercise might help people deal with stress. What type of exercise is best is up to you.
Personally, I love a good walk, and if you have a wooded area nearby, then you are doubling your stress relieving power. As well, lifting weights, group exercise, bicycling, and jogging are all powerful stress fighting activities. There are many different types of activities that will benefit your body and mind, which is great because it gives you the freedom to personalize your workout to your liking.
5. Write It Down
As a writer, it may seem biased for me to say that writing your problems down in a journal can help you relieve stress. But it’s a proven fact, as per a study at the University of Rochester Medical Center, that journaling can get rid of stress that could potentially consume you. From my own personal experience, I can say that it does just that.
Journaling is fairly easy, and it doesn’t have to take any longer than ten minutes a day. Some people like to write in their journal before bed, so they can let go of the day’s events. Others like to write first thing in the morning while their perspective is fresh.
I like to do both and have never been great at sticking to a routine. My suggestion is that you do what is best for you. The important part is to get those thoughts down on paper.
Of course, you could do your journaling on a computer, but in reality, there’s just something about using a paper and pen that’s very therapeutic. Besides, most of us need extra time away from the screen to relieve eye stress. As well, when you’re on your computer, it’s very easy to get distracted by work tasks, emails and the Internet…which are often the cause of people’s stress.
Stress is a very real response of your nervous system to certain situations, although many people will want to say that it’s just in your head. No matter what causes it, excess stress is unhealthy and can lead to chronic illness. Thus, it’s up to you to find the best ways to get rid of it and keep free of it. I just offered a list of five ways to combat stress holistically that have been scientifically proven to work; the rest is up to you.