Stress wreaks havoc on the body in nearly every way imaginable — from the way we look to the way we feel. It can even affect our digestion, blood pressure, sleep and ability to focus at work. Unfortunately, during fall and winter, stress often ramps up for individuals and families due to new school schedules, hosting guests, traveling and increased financial needs during the holiday season. For some, grief and loneliness during the holidays add fuel to the fire.
Thankfully, no matter what type of stress you’re enduring, there are some wonderful stress-reducing techniques you can incorporate into your everyday routine to help you manage it more easily. Here are five options you can try today.
1. Vitamin B-rich foods
B vitamins are crucial during times of stress. They play a part in supporting many areas of health, from metabolism and energy to healthy function of our immune and digestive systems. † While many foods contain B vitamins, they are water soluble, meaning they’re rapidly depleted from the body. Be sure you’re consuming vitamin B-rich foods regularly. Some great options include:
- Chickpeas/garbanzo beans
- Black beans
- Sweet potatoes
- Peanut butter
- Whole wheat
- Soy milk
- Nutritional yeast
- Whole grain breakfast cereal
You can also take a B-complex supplement or choose a food-based multivitamin with ample amounts of B vitamins for extra support.
Meditation is incredibly beneficial to the body and doesn’t have to involve sitting in silence in a dark room to be done effectively. Meditation can be experienced in many ways, including taking a quiet walk outside (no earbuds!), doing yoga or simply relaxing in a hot bath at night.
The point of meditation is to let your body relax in a way that feels good, whether this means moving or being still. By giving your brain a break from focusing on any specific task or skill, you soothe and revitalize your nervous system, allowing it to handle stress more effectively. If traditional meditation works for you, feel free to sit in a quiet spot in a dimly lit room and listen to meditation-style music, which you can find for free online.
3. A hot shower or bath
It sounds simple, but taking a hot shower (or bath) is a fantastic way to cope with stress. Hot water stimulates the lymphatic system and gives the body a sense of cleansing and renewal; it also helps relieve nervous tension and relaxes the muscles. Try using natural bath salts, a body wash with essential oils and other natural bath products for the best effects. Taking a hot bath or shower at the end of the day is a great way to wash away worries from the day and can even help you sleep better.
4. A warm, comforting meal
Skipping meals and going to bed on an empty stomach should both be avoided in order to manage stress effectively. By eating whole, plant-based foods and enjoying a hot meal at night, you ensure your body has the nutrients it needs to manage stress and balance hormones.
Try meals with the following wholesome foods:
- Brown rice
- Leafy greens
- Soy milk
- Garbanzo beans
5. Essential oils & herbal teas
Peppermint, lavender, vanilla and geranium essential oils are terrific choices for their stress-reducing properties. Essential oils can be added to a hot bath, and they are also found in natural bath salts, soaps, body washes and many natural candles. Try using them around your home instead of chemical-based options to see how they may help you relax more easily.
Herbal teas, such as chamomile, peppermint, ginger and lavender, can also help you decompress and are even helpful for digestion due to the way they relax the body. There are even teas formulated for stress relief, specifically.
Other important nutrients to consider to support your body during times of stress include magnesium, iron, calcium and amino acids. Be sure to eat foods with these nutrients throughout the day and supplement if necessary. See a naturopath if you notice that stress becomes too hard to handle; many can discuss further natural remedies and lifestyle techniques you can use to cope better.
†These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.