Reprinted with permission from the Urban Moonshine Blog.
Spoiler alert: there’s no single silver-bullet to manage your stress. Because there’s probably not one single thing that’s stressing you out. That’s normal – you’re busy, and busyness and stress often go hand-in-hand.
And that’s ok. In fact, some stress is actually good for you.
But most of us (me included) could do with less stress. And that’s when stress management techniques become helpful.
Here are five simple ideas to try when the going gets tough.
1. Deep breathing
Stress response can include difficulty breathing. When we take shallow, rapid breaths, it signals to our brain that things are not ok.
One simple technique is to concentrate on breathing deeply. You can try roll breathing for daily maintenance, and 4-4-4 breathing throughout the day as-needed. Simply inhale slowly for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and exhale slowly for 4 seconds.
Seems easy right? That’s because it is! But don’t let the simplicity fool you: this exercise can have a profound effect on stress by quieting your mind and slowing your heartbeat.
Sometimes the best response to stress is to think about something else until you are in a place to calmly (and productively) address whatever is stressing you out. But that can be difficult in the moment. A trick that works for me is to move my body.
Go for a short walk. Do some stretches. Do a handstand (safely). Jump around. Engaging your muscles is an easy way to get your brain to focus on something else. And hey, a little extra exercise is always good, amirite?
3. Go outside
Fresh air does wonders. When you feel your stress starts to become overwhelming, step outside for ten minutes. Close your eyes and immerse yourself in the sounds and smells of the great outdoors.
If getting outside is not really an option (like if you work on the 57th floor in Manhattan), try finding a quiet place and listening to the sounds of nature. Seriously, this small study demonstrates that nature sounds help calm people after a stressful math test. And the scientific community seems to largely agree that sounds, like birdsong and water for example, help with stress recovery.
Aromatherapy uses your sense of smell to bypass the conscious mind and soothe emotions on a deeper level. So it’s a great option when you can’t take a break, but need one. (It also goes great with #1: deep breathing.)
There are a couple of caveats to aromatherapy. The first is you must use pure, unadulterated (read: certified organic) essential oils. The second is that you never want to apply undiluted essential oils to your skin.
So when it comes to aromatherapy there are a few options, like this portable diffuser, which surrounds your personal area with the essential oil of your choice. However my favorite way to use aromatherapy is Stress Soother, by Badger Balm. Yeah, I am biased, but seriously: this is the most discreet and pleasant way to reap the benefits of aromatherapy. And the oversized stick means that you can sneak it onto your lips – right under your nose – anytime. I never travel without it.
My favorite essential oils to promote calm and/or uplift are lavender, chamomile (Roman), spearmint, rose, tangerine, balsam fir, and grapefruit. If these scents don’t appeal to you, search around a little. Many essential oils have a calming influence.
5. Support your nervous system
The better you treat your body, the better its response to stress will be. So eat nutritious whole foods, drink plenty of water, get good sleep, and give your nervous system some support. For the latter, I love Urban Moonshine’s Simmer Down Tonic. I have the one ounce travel spray with me at all times.
I also put Joy Tonic in my morning smoothie, and sometimes I beef it up with a little extra rose extract. Because as Badger Bill says: “rose is all about love” and I like to start my day with lots o’ love.
Last but not least, I live for Digestive Bitters. And I believe that they help with stress also, because gut health = everything.
What are your tips for maintaining a low-stress life? Share them with the community in the comments!