A majority of the population experiences anxiety from time to time. Therapists suggest that anxiety, in small doses, can be a good thing. “Anxiety is the brain’s way of keeping you safe. It’s actually a good thing and we all need to have a degree of anxiety or we’d jump off cliffs without a care for our lives,” says trauma therapist Ruchita. However, she adds that it’s important to know to what degree can we handle anxiety.

For many people, stress and anxiety linger and aggravate to a higher level. Therefore, taking measures to form new physical and mental habits is the first step towards relief.  Here are five naturals ways to reduce anxiety and stress.

1. Exercise

Exercise is counted as one of the most important factors when we talk about combating stress. Physical exercise is also a sure shot way to improve your sleep quality, which can be negatively affected by stress and anxiety.

  • Practise yoga

Yoga is the most popular method of exercise among all age groups. It is also directly linked to stress relief. While yoga styles may differ, the goal is always a common one – to connect the body and mind. Some studies have carefully examined yoga’s effect on mental health, suggesting that practising yoga can enhance mood and thus a better mental state. Apart from other health benefits, yoga helps in lowering stress hormone levels and blood pressure.

  • Deep Breathing

Fast breathing is common with elevated levels of anxiety. This may lead to faster heart rate, dizziness, lightheadedness, or even a panic attack in some cases. Deep breathing exercises, which is the deliberate process of taking slow, even, and deep breaths, largely helps restore normal breathing patterns. This is another nature way of providing relief. Deep breathing also helps activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the relaxation response. This helps slow your heart rate, and allows you to feel more peaceful.

  • Meditate

Meditation has become significantly popular now. Its primary goal is to remove chaotic thoughts from the mind and replace them with a sense of mindfulness. Researches show that even 30 minutes of daily meditation may ease some anxiety and stress symptoms, and act as an antidepressant.

  • Most importantly, you can always try and find an exercise routine or activity that appeals to you personally – walking, dancing, rock climbing or yoga. The main aim is to exercise regularly.

2. Reduce your caffeine intake and ensure healthier food habits

  • Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate and energy drinks. High doses of caffeine not only affect sleeping patterns but also increase anxiety levels. Of course, caffeine intake and tolerance varies from person to person but to realise one’s threshold is important. While moderate amounts of caffeine can be healthy, high quantities of the same can increase stress and anxiety.
  • It’s crucial to stay mindful of your eating habits. Staying hydrated, eliminating processed foods, and adapting a healthier diet – rich in complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins – can help to a great extent, too.

3. Write down

  • Another way to handle stress and elevated anxiety levels is to quietly pen down your thoughts and actions. While recording one’s stress causes is one approach, writing down all worries, causes of stresses, and moments of joy, is another positive approach to combating stress and enabling relief.
  • Expressive writing, or writing through your difficult emotions, has been found to be extremely beneficial when it comes to retaining calmness.

4. Spend time with loved ones, seek help

Ensuring your loved ones are around is the most natural way you can fight stress and higher levels of anxiety. Social support from friends and family can help you get through difficult times. It’s okay to seek help and share your worries with them. A study showed that for women, spending time with friends and children helps release oxytocin – a natural stress reliever. This effect is known as tend and befriend, which is the opposite of the response: fight-or-flight.

5. Resort to relaxation

  •  Music

Listening to music always has a relaxing effect on the body. Soothing music can affect the relaxation response, which helps lower blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormones. Also, sounds of nature can also appear to be very pleasing, leading to a calm state of mind. This is a major stress buster. 

  • Spending time with pets

Evidences show that having a pet helps reduce stress and improves the mood. Interacting with pets helps in releasing oxytocin. Pets also offer great companionship and help in reducing stress, however long and boring the day may have been.

  • Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy enables the use of fragrant essential oils to promote health and well-being.  Studies have shown that aromatherapy helps people relax, helps improve sleep patterns, elevates mood, and reduces heart rate. 

  • Tea

It’s believed that green tea or chamomile tea provides relief. They contain many polyphenol antioxidants, which further offer health benefits. A study suggests that chamomile is a powerful ally against generalised anxiety disorder.

Also Read: #MeToo India: A therapist tells us about PTSD and Self-Care while reliving trauma

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