Confession - I deal with stress and anxiety. I can be a little bit high-strung, and have been known to be an "over-planner." I like to know my upcoming tasks and my plan-of-action well enough in advance that I can properly prepare. I love lists, I get really excited about syllabi, and I like to have my expectations set properly.
Can anyone relate? Shout out to all of you Type As out there!
Stress is especially prevalent in NYC. Everyone is in a hurry to get to their high-stress, long-hours job. People are stressed about money, about security, about failure, and so much more.
Even if you don't live in the city, I'm sure you experience or witness stress on a regular basis. And your doctor might be quick to tell you that you can take some sort of medication to reduce your stress levels. Personally, I'm not a big fan of being medicated. I'd always prefer a natural route, when possible. I've been doing some research/experiments with my own stress levels, and wanted to share with you the things that seem to help me. Hopefully, these might help you too.
1. Chamomile Tea
Some of the compounds in chamomile actually bind to the same brain receptors as drugs like Valium, having a similar calming effect.
2. Green Tea
The l-theanine in green tea helps to slow down a quickening heart rate and lowers blood pressure.
3. Cardiovascular Exercise
Getting outside and going for a 20-30 min run or walk does wonders for relieving anxiety.
4. Proper Nutrition
This shouldn't be a huge surprise, but nutrition plays a role in anxiety and stress too! Make sure you're eating lean protein and lots of veggies!
5. Lavender Oil
The aroma from lavender has actually been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. I like to mix lavender oil with water in a spray bottle and give the room a good spritz when I'm feeling extra stressed.
6. Deep Breathing
Sometimes simply taking a couple big, deep breaths can help slow my heart rate and calm my mind.
7. Hot Shower/Bubblebath
When I'm have had an especially stressful day, this is my go-to. I love a good bubble bath. The heat is so relaxing to me. I play a little Iron and Wine and just sit in the bubbles.
8. Getting Out Into Nature
Something about being surrounded by plants is so good for the soul. Even if the closest thing you can get to real nature is a potted plant. I think even that helps!
9. Peting a Dog... or a Cat
They don't prescribe anxiety dogs for nothing. Animals are known to help reduce stress, and I can attest that while Morton can be a huge pain in the rear sometimes, he also is such a blessing. He's really good at snuggling, so sometimes I'll ask him to put his head on my chest while I'm laying down so I can just pet his head.
10. Reducing/Eliminating Caffeine
Ouch. Sometimes, caffeine feels necessary. And sometimes it's just really fun to "grab a coffee" with a girlfriend. But it's not worth it if it means you're going to end up being anxious for the rest of the day. If you're sensitive to caffeine, it may be worth it to test out how your stress levels are affected by it.
11. Going to Bed Earlier
Feel like you always need coffee? Try going to bed earlier! Feeling well rested will be refreshing in a stressful season.
Yoga has been known to release stress-fighting hormones and calm the mind. It's a great combo of exercise, deep breathing, optimistic thinking, and meditation.
13. Cleaning Your Home/Desk
A clean space is a clean mind. It's hard to not be stressed when you're sitting in a mess.
14. Saying Thanks
Showing gratitude and being thankful will help you to focus less on the worrisome/negative things and more on the beautiful and joy-filled things.
Play a game. Crack some jokes. Have a good laugh. Do something silly. Laughter is great medicine.
Hugs are always a good option. Well... maybe not always. But a lot of the time, a hug from someone you love is better than any kind of medication.
Turn yo phone off. Disconnect. I'm serious. Try it, and see how much stress goes away.
Ask the Lord to give you peace. This is a really important one. Entrusting God with your life will help take the weight off your shoulders to pull it all together. Our God is not a god of disorder, but a of peace (1 Cor 14:33).