Sometimes the challenges life throws at us are overwhelming. At those times, it's best to change things up and add a helpful change-of-perspective into the mix. Always remember that in most cases there are tried-and-true ways of bringing stress down to a more manageable level. Here are our top 7 tips for fast-acting stress reduction, the all-natural way.
- Aromatherapy with stress-reducing properties. Scents are powerful mood-enhancers. Natural and pure essential oils derived from plants are highly aromatic and can have an immediate impact on your emotions. Some, such as frankincense and lavender, have been recognized as stress reducers for millennia. Apply and take several deep breaths of an ultra-relaxing scent and feel your tension ease.
- Music scientifically designed for stress relief. Music researchers who have studied the impact of certain frequencies of sound on our brain waves have created a number of beautiful and relaxing compositions to help us chill out when we need to. For example, check out the wonderfully relaxing stress-relieving music of Steven Halpern and Dr. Lee R. Bartel .
- A soothing cup of tea. There’s a reason why afternoon tea became a British ritual. As our stress mounts during our daily tasks, taking a short afternoon break with a cup of tea can provide an opportunity for regenerating energy and clarity to get us through the remainder of the day. During your tea break, do not multitask. Just take tea. Slowly enjoy the tea-brewing moments. Relax while the tea cools to drinking temperature. Choose a flavorful tea, and enjoy small sips while you gaze out of a window with a view, or relax into a supportive conversation with a friend.
- Take a nap. Sometimes your brain just needs a little down-time to process the complex issues underlying your stress. Find a quiet place and take 5, 10, or 20 minutes for a restorative and refreshing nap. If you find that the daylight or indoor lighting is too bright, tuck a soft 100% light-blocking sleep mask in your work bag. If you need help drifting off into that nap, try some sleep-inducing music.
- Guided meditation for stress relief. Improve your ability to hold steady under pressure with the support of stress-proofing meditations. Even just 10 minutes of listening to a guided meditation right after you awaken can help you keep in better balance throughout the day. You’ll likely find that the thoughts you ponder during morning meditations stick with you throughout the day, giving you additional strength to make changes that are positive.
- Educate yourself about stress management. Stress is a part of everyday life, but don't let it become a chronic condition. Learn how to recognize the warning signs of unmanageable chronic stress and learn what to do when challenges begin to seem overwhelming. There are a number of good books on this topic, e.g., Stressaholic by Dr. Heidi Hanna and Williams & Penman’s Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World.
- Stress-busting Workouts. While general aerobic activity is, in itself, a terrific stress-reduction tactic, workouts that are specifically designed for stress relief can have an even more powerful impact on your emotional well-being. Choose from a number of yoga and pilates workouts created by master instructors specifically for stress reduction.
Be sure to incorporate as many stress-relief tactics as possible, noting what works best for you. Taking those first steps toward reducing unnecessary stress in your life will bring you closer to a balanced life and greater happiness.
Whatever you do, be sure to do SOMETHING to manage your daily stress. It's not a crime to just step off the merry-go-round for a short time in order to take better care of yourself.