There’s no denying it’s a stressful time of year right now. The wintertime blues are setting in, the holidays are on the horizon, and that election…
Instead of sitting around biting your nails or letting your mind race with negative thoughts, I have five stress-busting tips you can use to calm your nerves, lift your spirits, and get on with your day.
1. Release with magnesium
I’ve written about magnesium before in this post on natural sleeping tips. Magnesium induces muscle relaxation, which can help both with sleep and tension from stress.
Here are a few ways to use magnesium:
- Take a bath with epsom salts, which are rich in magnesium. Magnesium is quickly absorbed through the skin so this is a great way to immerse your entire body in it, and with the colder weather upon us, it’s the perfect time of year for a long, relaxing bath.
- Rub magnesium lotion on areas of high muscle tension (use this: Ancient Minerals magnesium lotion). I tend to carry my stress mostly in my shoulders, so I rub a dime sizes amount over them and within 15 minutes I feel noticeable relief.
- Spray magnesium oil on your feet, your arms and legs (use this: Ancient Minerals magnesium oil). If you don’t like lotion, try this option. It’s a quick way to take in magnesium, but be sure to wash it off within 20 minutes as it can leave a salty layer (and can also get itchy).
2. Put your feet up
Yoga is an awesome stress buster, but if you don’t have time for it, here’s a quick pose that has similar benefits: Put your feet up on the wall. This reverses the flow of blood in your body, which in turn calms the nervous system. To get into this position, lay on the floor near a wall and scoot your hips as close to the wall as you can. Swing your legs up to rest on the wall. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and enjoy the sensation for a few minutes.
3. Practice 4-7-8 breathing
This is a tip I brought up in a previous post on healing rituals you can do to start your day. When we’re stressed, our bodies go into fight or flight response, which activates rapid, shallow breathing. This evolutionary adaptation is designed to keep us safe from harm, but in the circumstances that we experience it today, it’s not good for us. The 4-7-8 method of breathing, coined by Dr. Weil, can help restore slower, deeper breathing.
Try this breathing exercise:
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
- This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
4. Sweat it out
Sweaty workouts stimulate the vagus nerve and parasympathetic nervous system which puts us in a more relaxed and restful state. You only need 30 minutes of exercise a day to feel the benefits. Whether it’s a brisk walk around the neighborhood, a beat-bumping Soul Cycle class, or a run in the woods, aerobic exercise can go a long way in maintaining calm even during stressful times.
Smiling is a simple psychological trick that can rewire our brains to be more positive. When you notice that you’re feeling stressed or anxious, take a moment to acknowledge how you feel and then put a smile on your face! There are a number of studies that have shown smiling actually makes you happier, and if you’re around others, chances are it’ll make them happier too.
I love essential oils. They’re a potent way to change how you think and feel in a number of ways — and fast. Whenever I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I turn to lavender essential oil. Lavender’s calming and relaxing properties promote peace and ease feelings of tension.
Here’s how you can use it:
- Diffuse a few drops for aromatic therapy
- Rub a few drops (with a carrier oil like sweet almond or jojoba oil) on your temples, wrists or feet
- Make lavender tea
My biggest piece of advice? Recognize when you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed or tense and take action before it prolongs. The faster you can return your body to a relaxed state, the less negative side effects of stress you’ll experience — including heart issues, digestive upset, muscle tension, and much, much more. Try out a few of these tips, see which works for you, and keep them in your arsenal the next time you’re feeling a bit too on edge.
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