3 ways to relax – the natural way – that you can put into action today
There are countless ways to relax and enjoy temporary moments of calm.
But to truly optimize your overall wellbeing, it’s important to foster an environment that supports ongoing relaxation so you can stay balanced and feel your best, getting ahead of stress instead of responding to it.
Fostering relaxation starts with deliberate actions to lower stress and anxiety levels.
The truth is, more than 40 million adults in the United States are affected by anxiety. In a world where we try to bring our best to our work and homelife, while balancing financial needs, friendships, health, and hobbies, all during a global pandemic, it’s understandable that many of us are feeling stressed to some degree.
Even before COVID-19, many people lived in a state of constant stress, accepting it as a trade off of our modern, fast paced times.
Stress IS a perfectly natural response to have when our output exceeds our input. But it’s important to remember that we don’t have to accept feeling tired, frazzled, and depleted all of the time.
Thankfully, there are ways that we can help control the way stress affects us.
Let’s look into 3 primary ways to relax and build habits that foster long term wellbeing.
1 – Lifestyle
It has become very clear that the 3 simple practices outlined below can help us relax, reduce stress, calm anxiety, and improve focus, mood, and health.
Modern science shows us that meditation has been proven to alleviate stress with regular practice. Meditation reprograms our brain and capacity to manage stress. Daily meditators handle stress better than non-meditators.
With its postures and controlled breathing, yoga’s benefits include reduced stress and anxiety, reduced cortisol, improved sleep and an increased sense of wellbeing. With YouTube, Zoom classes, and many other online resources yoga is increasingly easy to access as a tool for relaxation.
Want to reverse stress response and relax your body? There are several types and styles of deep breathing exercises that can provide an impressive degree of relaxation and stress relief. Best of all, most can be completed in only a few minutes!
2 – Herbs & Adaptogens
Several herbs and adaptogens are very effective in promoting relaxation.
Adaptogens are typically herbs and they help us overcome the effects of stress and help us become more resilient.
Ashwagandha is the most popular herbal adaptogen in the county today, and rightly so. It’s been used for centuries (and possibly millennia) in India as part of the Ayurvedic medical system. Ashwagandha has been shown to lower the stress hormone cortisol while also enhancing sleep.
Rhodiola is another popular adaptogenic herb. Rhodiola has been shown effective in treating stress and preventing chronic stress and its complications. Supplementation has shown significant reductions in anxiety, anger, confusion, and depression as well as improvements in mood in as little as 14 days.
Holy Basil, also known as Tulsi is an adaptogenic herb that supports a healthy stress response. Like Ashwagandha, Holy Basil lowers cortisol while helping to decrease the symptoms of stress.
Lavender as an Essential Oil is very commonly used for creating a relaxing atmosphere. Inhaling lavender essential oil can have a profound effect on your level of stress and allow for better sleep and relaxation. Using a diffuser is the best way to create that relaxing environment though it can also be sprinkled around the room or bed or used sparingly on the skin when combined with a safe carrier oil.
Chamomile, Passionflower, Valerian, and CBD are other herbs and adaptogens worth considering as you build an environment of relaxation. Chamomile is one of the most widely used herbs in the county. Most popularly prepared as a tea, it promotes restful sleep. Passionflower and valerian have a similar effect on the human body. They help regulate a neurotransmitter called GABA in the brain which cools out excitatory over thinking activity and allows you to relax. Lastly is the hemp derived compound called CBD. There is strong anecdotal evidence that for CBD lowering stress, reducing pain and relaxing the whole body.
3 – Vitamins & Minerals
As with most things, what we put into our body impacts how we feel, how we function, and our overall sense of wellbeing. Vitamins and minerals are found in the foods we eat and many are also available as supplements – making this an easy way to foster relaxation in your day to day.
Magnesium is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the country and is critical for muscle and nerve function. Studies have also shown that magnesium (as Glycinate) helps improve sleep quality while helping the muscles and nerves relax. Sleeplessness and stress are strongly correlated and getting better sleep will lead to a better stress response.
B-Complex Vitamins are rapidly depleted during times of stress while Vitamin B12 specifically is a common nutritional deficiency. Having low B-Complex Vitamins can set the stage for feeling fatigued, depleted, irritable and unable to handle stress. Supplementing with a B-Complex is an easy way to keep your energy high and your stress low.
Theanine is a natural amino acid found in the leaves of tea plants and has been shown to improve focus, reduce stress, and promote relaxation. Theanine is the reason drinking tea is less stimulating than coffee as it blunts some of the caffeine effect. Drinking green or black tea has shown to have a slight positive effect on stress. However, supplementing with theanine has shown to have a stronger effect at reducing both the mental and physical stress response.
Vitamin D, Tryptophan and 5-HTP, Glycine, Melatonin, and Probiotics are all also worth considering as you look into ways to relax through nutrition.
Tryptophan and 5-HTP are both precursor amino acids to the feel-good brain chemical serotonin. Either is a possible remedy for stressful situations.
Glycine taken before bed can dramatically improve the quality of your sleep. And as noted above sleep and stress are related. Sleep well and stress will naturally be reduced. The same goes for melatonin, a natural sleep hormone secreted by the pineal gland to help regulate your sleep wake cycles. Again, sleep is important for a proper stress response.
Lastly, there is emerging science that the healthy bacteria in your digestive system play a strong role in your mental and physical health. That includes depression and anxiety as they assist your body’s ability to cope with stress.
What to take away from this article:
Stress is a normal response to the world we live in, and it affects most of us.
But left unchecked, it reduces quality of life and diminishes wellbeing.
Luckily, there are natural ways to reduce stress. If we begin to take small, simple steps toward fostering relaxation in our day-to-day life, we can reap major benefits and feel our best.
Which step are you going to take first? As a reminder, our Lazy Acres Market Wellness Experts are ready to help answer any questions you have and to help you find the tools you need in order to optimize fostering relaxation.
As we all take steps to improve our health and to live well, we inspire others and give them permission to do the same. Living Healthy improves our lives on a micro level and also helps us begin to contribute to the improvement of our environment, our communities, and our world in ways we can’t always imagine.