How to reduce stress and anxiety naturally
7 tips to try
It’s impossible to avoid stress and anxiety entirely. So, when we’re feeling the intensity of it bearing down on us, it helps to have some go-to ways to naturally reduce stress and get through the tough moments.
1. Say something.
Keeping stress bottled up is unhealthy and usually makes us feel worse.
Want to feel better? Open your mouth and say something. Express yourself. Gently, but truthfully, let others know how you’re feeling and why. Share what’s bugging you and take a moment to uncover your underlying fears.
Sometimes when we talk about why we feel so stressed or anxious, we can see more clearly how exaggerated our fears and tensions are. We can admit where there are rational pressures and where we have increased the tension unnecessarily.
“Putting our feelings into words can help us heal better.” – American Institute of Stress, stress.org
If you find you can’t speak up for whatever reason, try using a journal. Writing to and for yourself can provide a private, safe, and accessible way to get the steam out and diffuse stress.
2. To-don’t your to-do’s.
Maybe what’s causing your anxiety are your expectations for how much you need to get done in one day. Super long to-do lists make us feel organized but looking at the endless list can be stressful and overwhelming.
A solution to try is to keep a short priority list (of three to five top to-dos) visible and keep the long list saved somewhere not within your all-day view. Being able to check off a reasonable number of tasks as completed can be a simple but powerful natural stress-reducer.
3. Make better choices.
Sounds like what we’re always telling our kids, right? But it continues to apply no matter how old we get.
When you feel stressed is an especially good time to try to make better choices. Get to know your stress-increasers. And where you have control, steer clear! Examples of making better choices might look like: avoid the snag of other people’s drama, not watching too much news, reduce time spent social media scrolling ( a hidden comparison stressor), and limit foods that you know make you feel crappy.
Start making better choices. Grab the reins and take control. Make choices that honor your health and sanity rather than choices that leave you feeling like you’re being dragged by a rope behind a horse on a rocky field.
Ever notice how when you feel super-tense or anxious, it can seem like you’re holding your breath?
Seems ridiculously simple, but purposeful breathing helps reduce stress and anxiety. We tend to breathe more shallowly when we are anxious, and so the opposite seems to hold true too – when you feel stressed, take a few slow deep breaths – and feel how your breath alone can immediately dial stress or anxiety down a few notches.
“Breathing techniques can calm your body and your brain in just a few minutes.” – Elizabeth Scott, verywellmind.com
And if you want to kick it up a few zen-notches, try a five-minute guided breathing meditation. There are oodles of free options: search on YouTube, check out podcasts, google it, or download one of the many free meditation apps (my fave right now is Insight Timer).
5. Hold the joe.
I looooooove coffee, but I cut back on the caffeine and I do feel better. No, reducing caffeine won’t resolve whatever is stressing you, but the added stimulant certainly won’t help you feel less tense or anxious.
Try switching to the decaf version of your favorite beverage for a few days and see if reducing caffeine naturally makes a tension-lowering difference.
6. Hit snooze.
Not getting enough quality sleep can exacerbate stress.
“On average, adults with lower reported stress report sleeping more hours per night than do adults with higher reported stress levels.” – American Psychological Association
I hear you – you’d get more sleep if you could actually sleep. Many women over forty have trouble getting quality sleep. And it can often show up as being less able to cope with stress during the day.
If you’re not getting enough sleep because you can’t prioritize your self-care and just don’t get into bed until it’s late, that’s an easier fix – see the “Make Better Choices” section above, young lady! You can make the intentional choice to help yourself feel less stressed by going to bed a little earlier.
When it’s not a self-care habit choice, getting enough sleep can get a little trickier. Whether it’s because of your racing mind, hormone fluctuations, poor diet, lack of exercise… there are loads of reasons why sleep can be elusive for you.
Chronic sleep issues are worth figuring out, whether you go through holistic methods or through your health care practitioner. Not only for reducing stress and anxiety, but for your overall health – don’t keep putting it off.
Yep, it seems hokey, but shifting your perspective through mindfulness and gratitude can reduce stressful moments. Try to refocus on something that makes you feel happy, calm, and grateful or on something that you honestly do have control over.
Think about your emotional energy as something physical, like water in a jug. Where do you want to pour it? Do you want to spill it all over the floor and waste it on what is stressing you (and usually out of your control)?
Or would you rather pour it thoughtfully on to what you want to help grow? Decompress by redirecting where you pour your energy, away from stress and anxiety on to what you want to create (i.e. your goals, your family, your work, your desires, your health, your peace…)
Time for stress-reduction action.
There are plenty of additional ideas for relieving stress and anxiety – what matters is not exactly what you do to help yourself, but that you do something. The effects of prolonged stress are no joke. Many studies show that prolonged stress can negatively impact our health and increase our risk for diseases.
Don’t wait. Give these stress-reducing tips a try.
I’d love to hear what works for you to naturally reduce stress! Feel free to add your own tips in the comments below. – Marlene
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