Ahhhh, relaxation. It's a rare thing, but an important thing. There are some simple and natural ways to do it, though, so that's the good news!
Here are 10 ways you can get that relaxation and relief from:
This is a folk remedy through and through, yet, recent studies have shown that it may actually have a chemical use to relieve stress! We love it when that happens — when something people had no idea how or why helped them out becomes a folk remedy only to be proven effective later:
A few studies have shown that the herb may actually be comparable in effectiveness to benzodiazepine drugs, which are used to treat stress. Though not proven, it is believed that passionflower works by increasing levels of a chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. This lowers the activity of some brain cells, making you feel more relaxed.
What's even better is that you can get it in a bunch of different ways. Infusions, teas, extracts, etc.
Just don't take it if you're preggers or a child. And if you're a child, what are you doing on this website?
Technically, this literally relieves stress and tension. Physically, the stress and tension in your muscles is massaged away, yet, it also has an effect on your mental stress as well!
Historically, the Chinese used massage to open blocked energy channels in order to improve health and Hippocrates, the “father of western medicine,” used friction for physical healing treatments. Today, we use massage to relax tense muscles, reduce pain and improve circulation, which can all do wonders for the mind.
Plus it just feels good, people. We even just wrote an article on how it can relieve chronic pain in the short term as well.
Stay quiet and breathe. Cheap, effective. There's a little more to it than that if you want to get hardcore about it ("Hardcore Meditation" is a great band name), but at it's basics: either clear your mind, let your mind wander free, and focus on your breathing:
Meditation, or mindfulness, only takes 15 to 30 minutes a day, which is possible even in a packed schedule. It’s also incredibly affordable, considering the only tool you need is your own mind. Just give yourself some silent time to let your thoughts run free or just focus on your breathing. That small amount of peace in your day can help you deal with or even release stress.
Get it done, guys. There is barely anything that exercise can't help, and it keeps you super healthy.
Whether it’s yoga, Tai Chi or running, exercise works much in the same way as meditation because it gives you the time to be alone with your thoughts (or an opportunity to let them go). However, exercise also has the added benefit of releasing endorphins into the brain, which improves your mood. It also prevents obesity and other health problems, giving you less to be stressed about.
If it's easy to find, it eases your mind. But not only that, it gives you a sense of control!
Organization offers a sense of control and peace of mind, and there’s a number of ways you can improve in this regard. If you’re the kind of person who’s always running around, it can help to make lists so that you remember everything. If you’re the kind of person who feels edgy in their own house, tidy up. Studies have shown the mere sight of clutter can put us on edge.
We get it, that candy bar (or 3) tastes really good while you're eating it — but afterwards that feeling could just lead to more stress.
It’s actually been proven that junk food can make us depressed (not to mention fat) so clean up your diet. Healthy foods like whole grains and protein can improve your mood and give you long-lasting energy to tackle everything that comes your way during the day. Foods that are especially effective for stress-busting include blueberries, salmon and almonds, according to scientists.
Also, put down that extra cup of coffee. While studies have shown that some coffee during the day can offer health benefits, too much caffeine will make you jittery and anxious, and eventually lead to a crash.
If you're relieving stress, sure, putting down that extra cup would help, but we just wrote an article about how multiple cups of coffee could help prevent prostate cancer!
GET OFF THE INTERNET (AND CELL PHONE):
This is a good way to avoid stress, at least for the time being. Being constantly connected to work and all that shizz starts to really weigh on us without us even knowing. So disconnect!
Disconnect, disconnect, disconnect. Part of the problem with reducing stress in today’s world is that we are never truly able to shield ourselves from it. By turning away from the Internet and shutting off our cellphones, we can at least block some of the channels from which stress can reach us. Doing this also allows us to live in the moment and appreciate it.
It is particularly important to cut off electronic use before sleep, which can cut down on insomnia-related problems.
Helps relaxation and fights fatigue, need more?
B vitamins are known to promote proper functioning of the brain and nervous system, as well as help induce relaxation and fight fatigue. In fact, indicators of B deficiency include irritability, depression and apathy, so to stave off those symptoms, increase your intake of foods rich in B vitamins. B vitamins are typically found in the germ and bran of cereal grains, as well as beans, peas, nuts, liver, eggs and dairy products.
Your sense of smell is ridiculously awesome, use it!
In some cases, inhaling certain scents has been shown to have immediate stress relief effects by raising mood, reducing anxiety and aiding focus and concentration. Experts say it’s because the smells can stimulate the limbic system, which in turn releases chemicals that affect the brain, promoting feelings of relaxation, calmness, love and excitement. Popular oils for stress relief and mental fatigue include lavender, cypress and rosemary.
We can't stress this one enough! (Did you like that pun?)
Sleep is the most important natural stress reducer of them all. Too little sleep leaves us cranky, irritable and on edge. Too much sleep can leave us sluggish and depressed. Try to find the right balance that allows you to feel well-rested and ready for the day. Promote better sleep by establishing bedtime rituals that signal to your brain that it’s time to fall asleep, avoid exercise in the three hours before sleep or take a warm bath. Certain foods can also promote sleep, such as carbohydrates, bananas, peanuts, figs and dairy. These contain tryptophans, a precursor for creating melatonin. However, avoid having a large meal close to bedtime, because it may result in indigestion, reflux or heartburn.
Sleep. Sleep. Make that your mantra, and get your healthy amount. Seriously, that's THE most important thing on this list — and luckily everything on it can be easily done!
Live life, stress less!
[Image via AP Images.]