It might seem extra or as though there is nothing that will really help. But, trust us when we say that when stress levels are peaking a few of these calming strategies from Food Matters can provide major relief. Pretend you have a schedule and pencil these de-stress at home activities into your calendar this week…
Turn Up The Heat | Warmth relaxes muscle tension and can lower anxiety naturally. It is believed that heat may impact the neural circuitry that influences mood and increase our levels of the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter called serotonin. Plus, being warm can just feel downright comforting.
You don’t need to live in the desert to feel this benefit. There are many alternative ways to de-stress with heat! You may enjoy a hot tea, sauna, exercise, spa, an enticing patch of sunlight, a cozy fireplace, a comforting hot water bottle or a warm bath filled with relaxing essential oils. If it’s warm and feels good, chances are it’s helping you to de-stress!
Move Your Body | Exercise is a natural antidote to stress and anxiety. Raising your heart rate instantly increases blood circulation, oxygenates your brain and gets those feel-good endorphins pumping! Furthermore, exercise engages your brain into focusing on each movement; this diverts our thoughts away from a stressful space and into the present moment.
Aim for at least thirty minutes of movement each day, in a modality that preferably makes you huff and puff a little (providing it is safe within your current health to do so). Aerobic exercise makes us produce higher levels of norepinephrine – the super stress-busting brain chemical! Try also to choose something that you enjoy and can actually look forward to. (And if you haven’t already, please try yoga – it’s the ultimate mind-body healing form of exercise.)
Tap Into Acupressure | Ancient people have practiced acupuncture for centuries and documented its benefits. Today, we can still access its powerful benefits! It is believed that two acupuncture points located between the skull and neck may be especially helpful for reducing stress and tension headaches. The trial this simple exercise to release stress in just a few minutes:
- Position thumbs at the top of your neck, just below the junction where your neck meets the skull.
- Apply firm but gentle pressure.
- As you press, inhale deeply and slowly at least three times.
- Float hands into your lap.
- Slowly drop your chin into your chest.
- Take another deep, peaceful breath and smile!
Enjoy Stress-Busting Superfoods + Stabilize Your Blood Sugars | Food affects our very brain chemistry and therefore impacts our mood. We can, therefore, make dietary choices to support our stress.
To start with, most people get more cranky, irritable and stressed when they feel hungry! Therefore, include low Glycaemic Index (GI) carbohydrates at each meal to regulates your blood sugar levels and maintain good energy levels. There are also a few extra foods you could include for some extra benefits:
Almonds: A good source of protein to help you feel full and focussed, almonds also offer B Vitamins, Vitamin E, Zinc, Magnesium and healthy fats that help to maintain brain function and regulate mood.
Blueberries: Offering Vitamin C, antioxidants, magnesium and manganese to support a stressed brain, these beautiful berries are lower in sugar and won’t disrupt your blood sugar levels.
A small piece of dark chocolate: Rich in magnesium and trace minerals to support stress and fatigue, dark chocolate contains compounds that boost mood and feel-good brain chemicals! (Just stick to a small quantity, as the natural caffeine content may also stimulate anxiety.)
Omega-3 Fats: These natural fatty acids are absolutely integral to brain function and may help to lower anxiety. Natural sources include salmon and oily fish, flaxseeds/linseeds and walnuts.
Pamper Yourself At Home | Daily rituals of self-kindness and small pleasures can go a long way towards cultivating inner peace. So often we make time to go above and beyond to help others out but fail to recognize -or make- small windows in our schedules to give some TLC for ourselves.
Whilst pampering may make you think of spas and health retreats (which are great if you can afford to do so!), there are other simple, inexpensive opportunities to pamper yourself with self-kindness. You may like to try:
+ Give your face a mini-massage in the shower. It increases blood flow to the brain, is wonderful
for your skin health and feels simply divine.
+ Say a few positive affirmations to yourself in the mirror as you prepare for your day.
Creating a simple, luxurious body scrub using coarse sea salt and coconut oil. Alternatively, use leftover coffee grounds as an invigorating scrub to wake you up and feel refreshed for the day.
+ Buff your nails – it’s natural, lasts longer than nail polish and showcases a part of your body that is visible all day long!
Discover Aromatherapy | Aromatherapy has been used for centuries to support the body both mentally and physically. In modern times, essential oils are particularly powerful for reducing stress. This is because the sense of smell bypasses the cognitive brain which processes worry.
Lavender is particularly renowned for its relaxing qualities and is an ‘emotional anti-inflammatory’. Massage a little into your temples or burn some in an oil diffuser to instantly unwind. Look for the pure variety that is derived from plants, not the artificial fragrances that are often chemically produced.
Get Outdoors | In a phenomenon known as ‘biophilia’, humans are naturally programmed to feel peaceful in nature. Plants and natural scenery have been shown to reduce anxiety and depression. Therefore, a regular dose of the great outdoors is good news for our mental health!
You don’t need to become a keen hiker to get your natural nature high. Simply grounding your feet in a space of natural earth is a great start. Perhaps you can step outside for five minutes during your daily lunch break and lift your face to the sun. You may also like to start a small garden or regularly buy yourself a bunch of flowers. Anything that makes you feel more connected to the world outside is likely to lower your stress.