7 Natural Ways to Combat Stress

There are some people out there who are just naturally chill. They don’t stress. They can sit back and relax, handling pretty much whatever comes their way.

Just kidding!

Everyone stresses. It’s impossible to avoid because evolution has programmed us to stress out. And in some cases, that’s good. You want to be stressed about a lion, potential burglar or that major presentation later today. In those cases, stress can help boost your performance — especially if you’re facing down a lion.

Brief bouts of acute stress aren’t harmful to you in the long term, but if you consistently find yourself under a lot of pressure, or are suffering from anxiety attacks, it’s time to get your stress under control. Here are seven all-natural ways to manage stress.

1.     Exercise

Exercise is one of the most underappreciated stress-relief methods. It probably won’t help if you have an anxiety disorder, but if you’re dealing with everyday chronic stress, it’s worth working into your routine. Regular exercise is your best bet, but even one intense session can help get rid of stress for a few hours. And you’ll certainly sleep better that night!

2.     Try Yoga

In the U.S., many people use yoga as an exercise, but it doesn’t have to be. There are so many different kinds of yoga available, you can choose whatever you think will fit your situation best. If you’re looking for stress relief, a relaxing, stretching form of yoga might be just the thing. In some cases, yoga can be a form of moving meditation, where your entire focus is on your body, breath and mindfulness. If you find yourself stressed out at work, there are plenty of yoga poses you can do in your office, as well. If anyone looks at you funny, just tell them you work better when you feel good.

3.     Meditate

Meditation has some pretty amazing benefits. Taking time to sit and meditate allows you to give yourself a mental break from the rest of life. Recently, Johns Hopkins University did a meta-study on meditation. From the 47 studies they reviewed, they found significant evidence to support meditation’s role in reducing stress, anxiety and depression. The best part? You can see improvements by doing as little as 10 minutes a day, as long as you stay consistent with the routine.

4.     Grounding

Therapists often recommend grounding to help combat panic attacks. Even if you have prescription medication to control your anxiety, it usually takes time to work. Grounding can help lay the foundation for a calmer mental space. If you feel a panic attack or get overly flustered, stop. Take a moment, and focus on five things you can see. Then, find four things you can feel. Move on to three things you can hear, then two things you can smell, then one thing you can taste. This is called the 5-4-3-2-1 technique, and some people find it very useful.

5.     Time Outside

Spending time outside is good for you, and you don’t have to do it for long to see results. Just moving around is good for you right off the bat, but the benefits increase when you go outside. Scientists don’t fully understand why, but it seems a simple 20-minute walk in nature can reduce your perceived stress. Meanwhile, spending three days immersed in nature without access to electronics can essentially “reset” your brain. That kind of intensive restoration has lasting effects, including being able to manage stress better.

6.     Practice a Craft

Practicing something you enjoy is a great way to get a mental boost. Art therapy is an entire profession dedicated to helping psychological issues, and is highly effective at managing anxiety. And it’s not something you have to be skilled at. If you aren’t very creative, just journaling is a great outlet that allows you to go back through your thoughts and emotions. The primary purpose is usually to try and understand yourself better, which can help you handle stressful situations better in the future.

7.     Take a Bath

Baths are one of the staples of a child’s bedtime routine because they’re relaxing. Sure, some kids will go nuts in the tub, but that effect tends to wear off as you get older. Instead, try a bath as an adult and make it as relaxing as you possibly can. Incorporating aromatherapy scents like lavender can help make your bath work double time for you, and a glass of wine wouldn’t hurt!

There are as many different ways to deal with stress as there are people. Everyone has to find unique ways to handle it. These are just a few ideas others have found helpful, and you might benefit from them, too. What are your favorite stress-busting techniques? Let us know about them and sign up for more tips!

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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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