10 Simple Strategies to Combat Stress
The term “stress” stems from a term used in physics that describes the internal distribution of a force exerted on a material body, resulting in strain. It has only been used since the 1920s in the context of mental and physical health.
“Stress” is not necessarily a bad thing, because it helps your body to deal with acute threats by releasing stress hormones such as epinephrine or cortisol.
During the so-called fight-or-flight response, these hormones increase your heart rate and blood pressure, trigger the release of glucose (blood sugar) and make you breathe faster to ensure extra oxygen supply that will help to make you more alert.
Stress is only becoming an issue when it’s chronic, and the levels of the stress hormones cannot get back to normal levels. Chronic stress is the underlying cause of many health issues, including headache, insomnia, high blood pressure, weight gain, or diabetes.
Here’s 10 evidence-based strategies to manage stress:
# 1 Be in nature or look at images with natural scenery
A study by Pearson DG and Craig T, published in Frontiers in Psychology, suggests that being in natural environments can help to reduce stress and anxiety. (1)
You don’t have time to get out? Just looking at photographs with natural scenes can have calming effects. Thus, it can already be helpful to have plants or images of nature in your office.
#2 Have a cup of tea
High caffeine intake can make you jittery and increase anxieties in some people. Tea, on the other hand, contains l-theanine, an amino acid that can help you to relax and increases alertness by increasing serotonin, GABA, and dopamine.
#3 Avoid procrastination
Postponing tasks can increase stress levels. Apart from that, procrastination leads to feelings of guilt and regret, which can be a stressor by itself.
Writing to-do lists, prioritizing, and scheduling your assignments can help you to avoid that.
#4 Cuddle with (your) pet
Interacting with pets can reduce cortisol levels and relieve anxieties. You’re not a pet owner? Many animal shelters allow people to borrow a dog for some hours.
#5 Use essential oils
Essential oils such as Lavender, Chamomile, or Ylang Ylang can help to relieve anxiety or stress. Put some drops of the oil you like best into a diffuser or on your wrist, take some deep breaths, and relax.
If you want to unwind at the end of your workday, you can also try adding essential oils to a warm (foot) bath. The warm water can additionally help you to relax.
#6 Try fish oil
A study conducted by the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, Ohio State University College of Medicine suggests the fish oil supplementation can help to reduce anxieties. You can either use fish oil capsules (I always opt for the ones with added lemon taste) or eat more fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel. (2)
#7 Prioritize and schedule tasks
According to s survey by psychologist and author Robert Epstein, planning is a powerful stress management tool.
Identifying your priorities and planning your day will not only make you more proactive but also more effective. Apart from that, documenting what you want to do and checking things off once they’re done can give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
#8 Schedule breaks
It’s not only essential to plan tasks but also to schedule regular breaks (and stick to them).
A study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) suggests that frequent, short breaks throughout the day have no negative impact on productivity. On the contrary: small breaks — especially when combined with physical activity — can increase mental alertness and reduce stress.
#9 Eat magnesium-rich food
Examples for foods high in this mineral include bananas, almonds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, or dark chocolate.
You can also try taking a magnesium supplement.*
#10 Try Yoga
Yoga combines deep breathing and movement. Deep breathing stimulates your Vagus Nerve, which helps you to activate your parasympathetic nervous system.
The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for digestion, growth, and regeneration. It reduces your heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels.
If your sympathetic nervous system is overstimulated, the parasympathetic nervous system can’t do its job, and you end up wired and tired.
Download my FREE handout: 5 NUTRITIONAL STRATEGIES FOR WEIGHT LOSS AND HEALTH.
In good health,
*Please check in with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements, especially if you’re suffering from a chronic condition or if you’re taking medication.
(1) Pearson DG, Craig T. The great outdoors? Exploring the mental health benefits of natural environments. Front Psychol. 2014;5:1178. Published 2014 Oct 21. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01178
(2) Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Belury MA, Andridge R, Malarkey WB, Glaser R. Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation and anxiety in medical students: a randomized controlled trial. Brain Behav Immun. 2011;25(8):1725–1734. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2011.07.229
(3) Boyle NB, Lawton C, Dye L. The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress-A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2017;9(5):429. Published 2017 Apr 26. doi:10.3390/nu9050429