6 Natural Stress Reducers

Stress takes it's toll on your mind and body. If you don't use stress reducers to take control of stress then in the short-term stress can cause frustration, emotional distress and anxiety, hostility, headaches and other painful feelings like panic attacks or difficulty breathing.

Over a prolonged period during which you're exposed to chronic stress, you may become depressed or develop some other mental health imbalance.

In addition, chronic stress puts your heart at risk, according to the Mayo Clinic, and makes you more prone to developing digestive problems, sleeping problems, obesity and memory impairments.

To fight stress effectively, you need to develop a plan of action that can be continued so long as the sources of your stress still exist.

Though it may be impossible to eliminate stress entirely, these six natural stress reducers can combat the effects of stress and make you feel like a calm, relaxed person again. These include:

  • laughter as a stress reducer
  • exercise to reduce stress
  • getting a good night's sleep
  • flipping your thinking for stress relief
  • making time for relaxation
  • having the right diet to cope with stress.

Is laughter the best medicine?

Science is confirming that truth of the proverbs "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine."

A good laugh has the ability to transform potentially stressful situations and helps to lighten the burden.

A good laugh extends beyond stress relief to better health and well-being. Laughter strengthens the immune system, dissolves negative emotions, and releases endorphins which are the body's natural feel good chemicals.

An increasing common stress reducer is laughter therapy and laughing yoga.

Exercise as a stress reducer activity

Exercise can work as an effective stress reducing activity in a couple different ways.

First, you're naturally distracted from stressful issues once you begin exercising. You're focused on using proper exercise techniques and accomplishing your goals, so most stressful issues should be "out of sight, out of mind" when you're exercising.

Second, exercise acts as a protective factor against harmful effects that stress can have on the heart.

Stress makes you at risk for high blood pressure as well as heart disease, but exercise blunts these harmful effects and decreases your risk.

Participating in exercise doesn't have to feel like a chore, either. You can sign up for some type of aerobics class, take time out for swimming or engage in brisk walking to relieve stress.

Get enough sleep to reduce stress

One of the common symptoms of stress is excess muscle tension.

But a close second is insomnia and other sleep disorders!

Stress can be a cause of insomnia and a lack of sleep can cause stress. The stressed mind is often hard to rein in, and it is easy to get caught on a merry-go-round of thoughts that keep you tossing and turning throughout the night.

Poor sleep for a prolonged period results in poor concentration, poor retention, and poor problem solving skills. Poor sleep can lead to irritability, apathy, and cynicism...which can lead to more stress!

If stress is causing insomnia then it is important to treat the cause of stress and ensure that you, at the same time, have good sleep habits.

Here are some natural sleep remedies and natural sleep aids that can help you get a better night's sleep.

Flip your thinking

According to the definition of stress the way that you think influences how much stress you feel and how you cope with stress.

Positive thinkers are more likely to take a problem-solving approach to stress and seek to change their reaction or the situation in response to stress.

Building your stress resilience takes practice. Using positive thinking and cognitive therapy are both good ways to challenge your thinking habits and to cope with stress.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is also one of the most effective ways to reduce stress, both in the long-term and short-term.

A trained psychologist or counselor offers this type of therapy, which is also known as "CBT." This approach involves first identifying the sources of your stress by keeping an informal journal over a period of a week or two that contains bits of information about what triggers your stress.

Since CBT relies on changing your response to the stressful event or stimuli, you make a decision to participate in stress-reducing activities to shift the balance in your life from stress-producing to stress-relieving.

The stress-reducing activities you choose can be anything from listening to music to owning and spending time with a pet.

Make time for relaxation

Common stress symptoms include excess muscle tension and shallow rapid breathing.

To counter the effects of stress these relaxation techniques can be used.

Relaxation techniques activate the relaxation response. The activation of the parasympathetic nervous system which counters the sympathetic nervous system activation when stressed.

Making time for relaxation exercises, even if it is only 10 minutes a day, can build confidence for dealing with stress and be an important part of any stress reducer program.

Some common relaxation techniques that activate the relaxation response are:

Each of these stress reducers leaves the body feeling relaxed and calm.

A good diet is an excellent way to cope with stress

When stressed your body depletes B complex vitamins and Vitamin C. These are the very vitamins that can help you to cope with stress.

Without adequate vitamins for stress you reduce your ability to cope with stress.

However, a healthy diet that follows the principles of the food pyramid can be one way to ensure that you are getting adequate stress nutrition and vitamins for stress.

However, generally the biggest nutrition mistakes for stress revolve around not eating enough of the right foods or eating too much of those foods that are psuedo-stressors.

This article on a balanced diet describes some of the foods that will help you to cope with stress, and also what foods to avoid to maximize your stress coping skills.

Other stress reducers

There are several alternative therapies that work just as well as stress reducing activities.

For example, acupuncture is a therapy that relies on pressure points in the body.

Lots of anecdotal evidence as well as some laboratory studies have confirmed acupuncture's positive effects against stress, including decreasing a stress-related heart muscle activity.

Biofeedback is a technique in which you "listen" to your body's responses and that which measures bodily functions, such as heart rate, muscle tension and blood pressure.

With biofeedback, you essentially learn to control the effects of stress by manipulating your bodily functions back to a relaxing or pleasant state.

As you can see, many different activities can be used to relieve stress and restore a balance to the body and mind.

While cognitive-behavioral therapy and cognitive therapy attempts to change the way you think and react, activities like meditation and exercise can work quickly to fight the short-term effects of stress.

Though stress on the body can be dangerous for your overall health, taking part in stress-reducing activities lessens the risk.

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