Stress is so prevalent in our society with our busy schedules, social media, and trying to meet unrealistic expectations for ourselves. Read on to find out more about what stress is, types of stress, why we should de-stress, and 7 simples ways to relieve stress.
What is Stress?
Many of us deal with stress on a regular basis. Did you know stress can actually be a good thing? Our bodies releases adrenaline as a stress-response to help us be more alert and have more energy to react to dangerous or exciting situations. Feeling excited about winning a game or feeling anxious about going on a roller coaster are types of stress.
However, when you are constantly in a state of stress, it can wreak havoc on your body.
Types of Stress:
There are three forms of stress: physical, emotional, and chemical.
- Physical stress includes things like exercising or sustaining an injury to your body. Of course, exercise is a good thing, but it is a stressor on your body, and too much stress is not a good thing.
- Emotional stress includes worrying about finances, problems in relationships, a stressful work environment, or just setting too high of expectations for yourself and worrying about achieving them (that would be me!).
- Chemical stress is what it sounds like. It’s when toxic chemicals enter our body and add stress to it. The food we eat, alcohol, smoking cigarettes, drugs, household cleaning products, and bath and beauty products can all contain harmful chemicals.
In this post, we’re focusing on relieving EMOTIONAL stress.
I know from experience that stress is one of the main contributors to many illnesses. When I am stressed, usually during very busy times of the year at school, my eczema flairs up. I don’t get sick very often, but when I do…it’s when I have more stress in my life.
I seem to usually get sick in February each year, whether from a cold or the flu. Both of my sons’ birthdays are in February, as well as Valentine’s day, the 100th day at school, and lots of other things going on at school during February. Not to mention that it is usually the coldest month here in North Carolina. I’m not spending as much time outside getting Vitamin D. Between the lack of Vitamin D and consuming more sugar than usual from the birthdays and Valentine’s day, my immune system is down more. Stress + lowered immune system = a recipe for disaster!
I’ve learned that to keep my health and sanity, sometimes it’s more important to take time to relax and relieve stress than it is to get another thing checked off my to-do list.
7 Simple Ways To Relieve Stress:
Here are some ways to relieve stress that I’ve learned over the years. Hopefully you’ll find this helpful and go try some of these out the next time you’re feeling stressed!
1. Epsom Salt Baths
First of all, taking a nice hot bath is so relaxing. Adding about 1 Cup Epsom salt (opt for a fragrance-free one like the one I linked) and a few drops of essential oil (my favorite is Lavender) adds extra benefits. Epsom salt is made of magnesium sulfate. Many of us are deficient in magnesium because the soil our crops are grown in is not as nutrient-dense as it once was. You can add is some needed magnesium by taking an Epsom salt bath.
Epsom salt is great for treating pain, muscle soreness, inflammation, insomnia, and more. It also helps relax the body, which is why it is great to add to your bath.
I love ending my days with a nice relaxing Epsom salt bath, a hot cup of tea, and a book.
Try not to think about all the things you need to get done next or whatever it is that is adding stress to your life when you take a bath. Clear your mind of everything else and focus on relaxing your body and just enjoying this “me” time.
2. Deep Breathing
When you’re feeling stressed or anxious, stop and take a minute to do some deep breathing. It’s amazing what taking a few deep breaths can do!
Just breathe in slowly and count to 5. Place your hand on your belly and feel it expanding when you are breathing in. Then let your breath out slowly and count to 5. You should feel your belly going down when you let your breath out – like a deflating balloon. Spend the SAME amount of time breathing in as breathing out.
If you have an Apple Watch, the Breathe app is a great tool to use. It reminds you when you need to take a minute to relax and do some deep breathing. It also times your breaths for you. So you don’t even have to worry about keeping track of the time.
When you take time for deep breathing, your body sends more oxygen to your brain, helps your muscles relax, helps your blood pressure to decrease, and gives you an overall sense of calm.
It’s a great way to start your day too. Focus on positive things while you’re doing your deep breathing, like something you are thankful for or the good day you’re about to have. Start your day with a positive outlook!
I use this strategy with my students too. Have your kids do some deep breathing, if you’re a teacher, a mom, or work with kids in any way, when they need help calming down.
3. Prayer and Gratitude
I believe going to God in prayer is the best thing we can do when we are stressed or anxious at all. If you’re a fellow Christian, pray and give God your concerns and worries.
One of my favorite Bible verses, John 14:27, says, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” No one or no thing can give you peace and relieve stress as well as God can.
Also, 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
When you are going through difficult times or have a lot on your plate, give your troubles to God. He loves us, and He wants to carry our burdens.
Don’t just ask God to take your burdens and give you peace when you pray, but also come to him with thanksgiving. Thank Him for all the good things you have going on in your life and for all He’s blessed you with.
Even if you don’t believe in God and don’t pray, having an attitude of gratitude is still a great thing to do. Stop and say 5 things you’re thankful for (possibly while or after you do your deep breathing), whenever you’re feeling anxious or stressed. Focus on positive things, instead of always thinking negatively or thinking of everything you have to do. Being thankful contributes to a a positive attitude, less depression, and a better overall well-being. I’ve experienced anxiety and depression, and I can attest that adjusting my mindset and focusing on God and on the positive helped SO much!
Go on a walk outdoors – either a fast-paced walk or a leisurely walk as a family – when you’re feeling stressed.
Walking has great benefits. Aerobic activities, like walking, release endorphins, which, like morphine, reduces the feeling of pain and increases positive feelings. Enjoying the beautiful outdoors can also increase positive feelings.
If you’re walking alone, you can use the time walking to have prayer and say things that you’re thankful for. Or if you’re walking with friends or family, the community aspect has great benefits too! Social interactions are known to reduce stress. Going on a few 20-30 minute walks a week not only helps relieve stress, but it can increase your energy level. I know I feel energized and ready to tackle the world after a good walk.
A walk outdoors also provides Vitamin D. And according to this study, low Vitamin D is linked to depression. So why not relieve some stress and boost your mood with a good walk outside!
Before my husband and I were married, we enjoyed going to the movies for our dates. Now, 10 years into our marriage, one of our favorite things to do on dates is getting massages. They are so relaxing! They can also work out muscle stiffness caused by your stress.
We like going to Hand and Stone. They have several locations across the country. They also have a membership program where you pay each month at a more affordable price. You earn points for purchases that you can redeem for add-ons to your massage (like the hot stones).
You could also make an at-home date out of it, if going somewhere and paying for massages is out of your budget. Take turns giving each other massages. This can be, not only relaxing and great for stress-relief, but also romantic! Just use a little bit of oil, like Sweet Almond Oil to help your hands glide across the skin more easily. You can mix in a few drops of essential oils to the Sweet Almond Oil for extra benefits. Lavender and Geranium are great ones to use, as they both have relaxing effects.
If you’re really struggling with managing your stress and have tried other ways to manage stress, you may consider adding some supplements in to your routine.
Adaptogens, like Ashwagandha, Rhodiola Rosea, and Holy Basil, are herbs that are known to lower the stress hormone, Cortisol, and help the body regulate its stress response. I’ve been taking this Adrenal Health supplement from Gaia Herbs, which contains several adaptogenic herbs, and I can tell a big difference! I definitely feel stressed at times still, but when I take this I feel like I can manage my stress better, and it doesn’t consume me. I feel much more relaxed and ready to handle the situation in a controlled way. Adrenal Health is a safe product made of natural ingredients – organic herbs, including, Holy Basil, Schisandra Berry, and Ashwagandha Root, water, vegetable glycerin, olive oil, and vegetable cellulose (for the capsule). It’s also gluten-free and vegan.
It supports the adrenal glands, which release stress-hormones. When you’re chronically stressed, your adrenal glands can become overworked, and you may develop adrenal fatigue. When you experience adrenal fatigue, your immune system is lowered and you can experience major fatigue. I’ve dealt with this, and it’s no fun! Supporting my adrenals and managing my stress has helped so much!
Another supplement I’ve taken and you may want to consider taking if you’re experiencing stress, is Natural Calm. This, like Epsom Salt, is made of magnesium. However this is made of a different form of magnesium – magnesium citrate. This form is one that is easily absorbed by the digestive system. It is great for helping to relax your body. I love adding this raspberry-lemon flavor mixed into my water!
7. Schedule It and Forget It
What stresses me out the most is when I have so many things to do and don’t seem to have enough time to get them done – whether it’s deadlines at school or to-do’s I set for myself to get done each month or week. #enneagramtype1
So, one thing that has helped me to not get so stressed over my to-do list is to schedule it and forget it.
I have a planner (the Life Planner from Erin Condren) where I make a list of what I want to accomplish each MONTH. I write in any appointments as they come up and add in meetings that I have. Then, at the beginning of each WEEK, I schedule in the things on my to-do list that I want to get done that week. I am a math person and a Type-A, organized person. So I like to add up the remaining time I have available each day and schedule in things from my to-do list as I have time for them.
For example, I always have planning after school on Tuesday. By the time I pick up my boys, get home, cook supper, eat, clean up, do my daily cleaning job, and spend time with my family, I have about 1 hour of time to do something on my to-do list. I’m not going to schedule something like painting a room on Tuesdays.
It is important to remember that you are human.! You can only get done so much in one day. Don’t over-schedule yourself so that you leave no time for relaxing, spending quality time with your family, or sleeping a full 8 hours. Only schedule for each day what you can realistically get done.
After you schedule it, forget it – until it is time to do it! Don’t worry all week about whether you will get everything on your to-do list done. Look at your planner each day to remind yourself what your day entails. Focus on what you need to get done and have time to get done TODAY.
Another example of scheduling and forgetting is my Deep Cleaning Schedule for the Whole Home. I created that schedule so that you don’t have to worry and stress about what needs to be cleaned throughout the year. I laid out the different chores that should be done around the home each year and distributed them throughout the year. Go check out that schedule to help relieve some stress of figuring out what chores should be done when.
Try some of these out the next time you’re feeling stressed, or to avoid from getting stressed. Have you tried any of these ways to relieve stress already? Or do you have another method for relieving stress that works for you?