The holidays are upon us, and while this time of year can be a lot of fun, it can also be stressful for many people. Modern daily life is filled with stress anyway, and while our regular obligations don’t go away this time of year, we also have to deal with the additional pressures of family visits, holiday parties, shopping, travel, and all of the many preparations that go along with these things. It’s always a good idea to look for natural ways to beat stress, but it’s especially important during the holidays!
While it’s not possible, practical, or even desirable to eliminate all stress from your life, it is important to manage stress appropriately. Fortunately, there are plenty of scientifically-proven ways to help your body beat stress – according to this article from HealthLine.com, you have everything you need right now! Try these evidence-based natural methods of stress relief now:
1.) Get more physical activity
If you’re feeling stressed, moving your body on a consistent basis may help.
A 6-week study of 185 university students found that participating in aerobic exercise 2 days per week significantly reduced overall perceived stress and perceived stress due to uncertainty. Plus, the exercise routine significantly improved self-reported depression (12).
Many other studies have shown that engaging in physical activity helps reduce stress levels and improve mood, while sedentary behavior may lead to increased stress, poor mood, and sleep disturbances (13, 14).
What’s more, regular exercise has been shown to improve symptoms of common mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression (15, 16).
If you’re currently inactive, start with gentle activities such as walking or biking. Choosing an activity that you enjoy may help increase your chances of sticking to it in the long term.
2.) Follow a healthy diet
Your diet affects every aspect of your health, including your mental health.
Studies show that people who follow a diet high in ultra-processed foods and added sugar are more likely to experience higher perceived stress levels (17, 18, 19).
Being chronically stressed may lead you to overeat and reach for highly palatable foods, which may harm your overall health and mood.
Plus, not eating enough nutrient-dense whole foods may increase your risk of deficiencies in nutrients that are essential for regulating stress and mood, such as magnesium and B vitamins (20).
Minimizing your intake of highly processed foods and beverages and eating more whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans, fish, nuts, and seeds can help ensure that your body is properly nourished. In turn, this may improve your resilience to stress.
3.) Minimize phone use and screen time
Smartphones, computers, and tablets are an unavoidable part of everyday life for many people.
While these devices are often necessary, using them too often may increase stress levels.
A number of studies have linked excessive smartphone use and “iPhone addiction” with increased levels of stress and mental health disorders (21, 22, 23, 24).
Spending too much time in front of screens in general is associated with lower psychological well-being and increased stress levels in both adults and kids (25, 26, 27).
Furthermore, screen time may negatively affect sleep, which may also lead to increased stress levels (28).
4.) Consider supplements
Several vitamins and minerals play an important role in your body’s stress response and mood regulation. As such, a deficiency in one or more nutrients may affect your mental health and ability to cope with stress.
Plus, some studies show that certain dietary supplements may help reduce stress and improve mood.
For example, when you’re chronically stressed, your magnesium levels may become depleted.
Since this mineral plays an important role in your body’s stress response, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough each day. Supplementing with magnesium has been shown to improve stress in chronically stressed people (20, 29).
An 8-week study of 264 people with low magnesium found that taking 300 mg of this mineral daily helped reduce stress levels. Combining this dose of magnesium with vitamin B6 was even more effective (30).
Other supplements, including rhodiola, ashwagandha, B vitamins, hemp extract, and L-theanine, have been shown to help reduce stress as well (31, 32, 33, 34).
However, dietary supplements may not be appropriate or safe for everyone. Consult a healthcare professional if you’re interested in using supplements to help relieve stress.
5.) Practice self-care
Setting aside time to practice self-care may help reduce your stress levels. Practical examples include:
- going for a walk outside
- taking a bath
- lighting candles
- reading a good book
- preparing a healthy meal
- stretching before bed
- getting a massage
- practicing a hobby
- using a diffuser with calming scents
- practicing yoga
Studies show that people who engage in self-care report lower levels of stress and improved quality of life, while a lack of self-care is associated with a higher risk of stress and burnout (35, 36, 37).
Taking time for yourself is essential in order to live a healthy life. This is especially important for people who tend to be highly stressed, including nurses, doctors, teachers, and caretakers.
Self-care doesn’t have to be elaborate or complicated. It simply means tending to your well-being and happiness.
Exposure to certain scents via candles or essential oils may be especially calming…
Using scents to boost your mood is called aromatherapy. Several studies suggest that aromatherapy can decrease anxiety and improve sleep (38, 39).
6. Spend time with friends and family
Social support from friends and family may help you get through stressful times and cope with stress (44).
A study of 163 Latinx young adults in college associated lower levels of support from friends, family, and romantic partners with loneliness, depressive symptoms, and perceived stress (44).
Having a social support system is important for your overall mental health. If you’re feeling alone and don’t have friends or family to depend on, social support groups may help. Consider joining a club or sports team or volunteering for a cause that’s important to you.
7. Create boundaries and learn to say no
Not all stressors are within your control, but some are. Putting too much on your plate may increase your stress load and limit the amount of time you can spend on self-care.
Taking control of your personal life may help reduce stress and protect your mental health.
One way to do this may be to say “no” more often. This is especially true if you find yourself taking on more than you can handle, because juggling many responsibilities may leave you feeling overwhelmed.
Being selective about what you take on — and saying “no” to things that will unnecessarily add to your load — can reduce your stress levels.
Plus, creating boundaries — especially with people who add to your stress levels — is a healthy way to protect your well-being. This can be as simple as asking a friend or family member not to stop by unannounced or canceling standing plans with a friend who tends to create drama.
8. Take a yoga class
Yoga has become a popular method of stress relief and exercise among all age groups.
While yoga styles differ, most share a common goal — to join your body and mind by increasing body and breath awareness.
Several studies show that yoga helps reduce stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Plus, it can promote psychological well-being (47, 48, 49).
These benefits seem to be related to its effect on your nervous system and stress response.
Yoga may help lower cortisol levels, blood pressure, and heart rate while increasing levels of gamma aminobutyric acid, a neurotransmitter that’s low in people with mood disorders (49Trusted Source, 50Trusted Source).
9.) Spend time in nature
Spending more time outside may help reduce stress.
Studies show that spending time in green spaces such as parks and forests and being immersed in nature are healthy ways to manage stress (58, 59).
A review of 14 studies found that spending as little as 10 minutes in a natural setting may help improve psychological and physiological markers of mental well-being, including perceived stress and happiness, in college-aged people (59).
Hiking and camping are great options, but some people don’t enjoy — or have access to — these activities. Even if you live in an urban area, you can seek out green spaces such as local parks, arboretums, and botanical gardens.
If that’s not all, some evidence suggests that one of the simplest ways to relieve stress quickly is simply by breathing!