The best stress relievers are natural stress relievers. Why’s that? Because nature has a way of making us relax and feel better.
Unfortunately, many of the things that make us feel stressed and anxious in the first place are the result of modern living. They come from our work, from our always-on (and always annoying) phones and from cash problems. We never had to deal with these issues in the wild!
Meanwhile, our bodies are actually designed and evolved to thrive in natural environments. This is what we have adapted to exist in and without that kind of environment we can often feel cut off from the things that make us feel most at peace and at ease.
So with that in mind, which are the best natural stress relievers? How can you start to feel better simply by getting a little nature back into your life?
That’s probably not what you expected to see there!
In fact though, bonsai and its cousin ‘penjing’, can do wonders as natural stress relievers. With bonsai, you are essentially growing a small tree in a little pot or tray. With penjing, you are arranging multiple small trees, rocks and wooden mountains to create a miniaturized landscape.
Either way, you are nurturing and creating something that feels and looks a lot like a beautiful scene from nature. While you can’t quite walk through it, you can nevertheless still have it on your desk and enjoy being near it.
Having a plant on your desk has been shown to immediately lower blood pressure and heart rate and even to make you more creative. So it stands to reason that having an entire mini woodland on your table should have the same effect and then some. Add in the very peaceful and precise process of trimming leaves and pruning and you have one of the best natural stress relievers available.
Another activity that has been shown to lower the heart rate and blood pressure at the same time as helping us to be more creative and thoughtful is walking in natural environments. When you walk, this is right away a relaxing and repetitive activity that is good for letting your mind wander.
At the same time though, when you are walking in natural environments, you once again get to enjoy the benefits of being in a completely natural and lush green environment.
Exercise is incredibly good for you, lots of fun and completely free. So it’s a real shame more people don’t do it!
It’s also one of the very best ways to relieve stress. Whether you go for a run or lift weights, you’ll find that you end up producing positive hormones like serotonin and oxytocin that encourage feelings of happiness and that suppress stress.
If you combine your exercise with the chance to get outdoors, then you can enjoy some trail running or ‘MovNat’ (lifting logs and climbing rocks for exercise). This is a very popular movement right now and one of the very most effective natural stress relievers.
The right food makes us happier. In the short term, eating anything will trigger the release of ‘reward hormones’ like dopamine which make us feel happier and more successful. In the long term though, the right diet will support good health (encouraging less stress) as well as providing the raw materials for the neurotransmitters that keep us happy. B vitamins for instance boost proper brain function, as does omega 3 fatty acid and proteins. They can all help to combat stress.
On the other hand, very sugary foods and junk foods can both increase stress. Time to get a healthier lifestyle!
Simply seeing faces can help you to feel happier and can trigger the release of positive hormones. Something as simple as putting photos up around your house then can help you to be slightly happier throughout the day, as can putting photos of you and your friends on your phone background, or just sending messages to friends occasionally.
Better yet, even though you feel stressed, make sure you accept that invitation to go out. It’s one of the best natural stress relievers of them all.
Better than just looking at your friends and talking to them is to touch them…
It sounds creepy but seriously, hugging, kissing and exchanging massages are all great natural stress relievers. If you’re in a steady relationship then you have access to massages 24/7 and these are incredibly good for you mentally and physically.
The best way to ensure you are getting regular massages is just to make a pact with your partner. Explain the benefits in detail and then just suggest that you each take it in turns to get a completely indulgent massage with no need to reciprocate that day. Life just got a whole lot better!
Sleeping is so much fun that when most of us start we never want to stop. And if you struggle a lot with stress, getting more, healthy sleep can help to combat that both in the long term and in the short term. When the world just seems a bit too on top of you, getting some shuteye can make the world seem better in the morning by completely refreshing that neurochemical cocktail and making problems seem a little bit further away.
The only drawback is that sleeping can be difficult when you’re stressed – so perhaps try one of these other natural stress relievers first!