Stress and anxiety are unfortunately all too common in our busy, modern lives, and can be completely debilitating. Here are five tips to help you cope, as well as some natural remedies to have within your wellbeing toolbox.
- Be prepared and listen to your body
Stressful situations can pop up at any time, so it’s good to have some tips stashed away in your armoury to defend yourself. It’s important to listen to your body and recognise when you are feeling stressed or anxious. Have you tensed up? Has your heart rate increased? Are you finding it hard to breathe?
If the answer is yes, try and concentrate on slowing your breathing down. Breathe in for a count of five, and then out for a count of five. Repeat until you feel calmer. Take yourself away from a stressful situation if you can – go for a walk or move to a different room for a change of scenery. Overstimulation is going to make you even more fraught, so find a quiet place if you can away from lots of people or noise.
If you feel like you need some extra help, we can recommend Bach’s Rescue Remedy – a blend of calming flower essences designed to help you relax, stay strong and in control. Keep it in your pocket or bag and spray a couple of sprays into your mouth when you need it.
- Get your heart pumping
Exercise is one of the most effective natural stress and anxiety-busters. Not only does it release endorphins, the “happy hormone” (yay), it also improves blood flow to all parts of the body, including the brain, and will help you sleep better when you get into bed.
Just 30 minutes of exercise has been found to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Just to put that into context, that’s the same time as an episode of Friends, which in our experience goes very quickly when you’re sat on the sofa eating Maltesers. So, whatever your level of experience, get off the sofa (put down the Maltesers), grab your trainers and get out of the house. Find something that works for you, whether its walking, jogging, an exercise video or a HiiT class. It will help you clear your mind and feel more focused and calm, we promise.
- Try a supplement
People around the world have been using herbal remedies for thousands of years to combat stress. It’s important to find the right thing for you depending on your circumstances, but we’ve found that these are some of the most helpful remedies for people struggling with stress and anxiety.
Rhodiola is a plant native to Siberia, which is said to have been used by the Vikings before a raid to improve their stamina and physical strength. It forms part of a family of plants called adaptogens which, as the name suggests, help our bodies adapt to our surroundings. Adaptogens can help us readjust when things around us are falling apart, and give us strength when the going gets tough. They work by regulating the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol, from the body. As a result, they increase our resistance to stress and anxiety, and improve symptoms of depression.
Another adaptogen is ashwagandha, which has been used in Ayuvedic medicine to relieve stress for several thousand years. Today it is still used to calm and strengthen the mind and improve mental health.
Scientists have also established that there is an intrinsic link between gut health and mental health. If the balance of bacteria in our tummy is out, this can have a striking effect on our whole body, including our brain. As so much of our mental health and wellbeing stems from our gut, it is worth considering whether you need to redress the balance – if you do, a good probiotic can be a great way to do this.
- Get those zzz’s
Sleep (or lack of it) is linked to our moods, so when you’re lacking in shut eye, you may feel the effects of stress much more than normal. Research suggests that sleep deprivation, even if only for a short-term period, causes people to feel more stressed, angry, upset and emotionally exhausted.
We all know that it can be a vicious cycle of stress, anxiety and sleep, with many people finding it hard to sleep because of stress, and then feeling more stressed because they haven’t slept. Try and make some healthy sleep habits, like putting your phone in another room, reading a book in bed or listening to music. Again, there are lots of natural supplements which can help – valerian is thought to aid anxiety and can be used to improve sleep quality, while magnesium plays a critical role in sleep and can help promote deep, restful sleep.
- Be kind to yourself
And finally, be kind to yourself! We know how busy life can get, but it’s so important to take time to look after ourselves, relax and take stock of how we’re feeling. Whether that’s sitting down with a cup of tea, going for a walk, having a bath with a load of candles, meditating, or snuggling on the sofa binge-watching Netflix, self-care is a vital part of a happy, healthy mind. Don’t beat yourself up about what you haven’t done on that ever-growing life “to do” list – aim for progress, not perfection. And, in the meantime, if you need a pick me up, dark chocolate has been found to reduce stress and anxiety as well… Just saying.