Updated: Apr 1, 2020
We often get asked what the most prevalent issue is that most people are suffering with – the answer has been unsurprisingly consistent : STRESS.
There are an infinite amount of reasons why we are facing the stress pandemic, but it all boils down to lifestyle and the pace which we feel we are having to consistently keep up with. Not only this but every other news flash is about a negative news event or stimuli, cynicism takes over the topic of most conversations, and having a ‘hard’ day has become normalised. Needless to say we don’t think there is anything normal about the above mentioned, in fact if you are having more negative experiences than good and this is causing you to face stress and anxiety on the daily then maybe this blog is exactly what you need to read.
Here are our 11 top tips for reducing stress naturally:
1. CONNECT TO NATURE
Nature helps us to remember our place in the universe, our relation to everything around us and therefore to find some sense of purpose, peace and interconnection. Connecting to nature can be done no matter where you live or where you are. If you have access to a garden, a park, a forest, beach, pot plant, a flower on the sidewalk, the starry sky at night or even just the clouds floating past. Finding some way to take a moment and look, watch the sky, the ants as they scurry on their paths, the leaves moving in the wind and the soil as it soaks up the water you have given it will allow for you to find some clarity and peace - even if it is just for a moment .
2. PRACTICE CHOICE
This may seem very simple and somewhat cliché – but if there is one thing in life that all humans share, it is the power to make our own autonomous choices as an individual in our journeys. Very often we hear the statement “I had no choice”, and so subconsciously it has become a kind of normalised condition of being, going with the flow without having chosen that path in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that going with the flow of things is important, it is a space of learning to surrender to the process. But here’s where the difference lies: choice. You can choose the wave to ride, and surrender to that process of unfolding, however if you never truly made that choice then it feels like all you have is salt up you noses and sand in your ears. This follows all aspects of life, there is nothing forcing you to go to the gym even though you’re sick, there is nothing that is making you go out even though you don’t want to and further there is nothing stopping you from living in better alignment with the self, other than the parameters of the mind.
3. HAVE A DAILY PRACTICE
Implementing some kind of practice in your life is one of the most utilised ways of reducing and managing stress. This can include yoga, meditation, dance, running, surfing, swimming, a cycle class or all the above and more – what is important is to dedicate time during the day to have a practice which brings you closer to yourself, into your body and get those endorphins coursing around your biology. Having a physical activity implemented into your day allows for you to kindly nudge not only your body, but your mind and spirit into a more clear space – so you can take on whatever is around you with a better headspace
4. REMOVE THE PRESSURE
Cutting out the unnecessary pressures is one of the easiest ways to lighten the load. What would ideally be the way to feel better is the cut out the main stressor entirely and live without it. However reality is that sometimes the main source of our stress isn’t something which can be avoided or removed immediately. In this case all that I can recommend is ensuring that all the surrounding aspects of your life are as stress free as possible. This can include making sure that the house is clean so that it doesn’t create a stress when you get home, unfollowing the Instagram accounts which cause negative self-talk and developing clear communication skills as to avoid conflict and miscommunication. These can be categorised as either long or short term alterations in your life which will ensure that when you are in your own time, or even in the time around a stressful job or while writing exams that you have a calm and positive environment in which you can thrive and find balance.
5. WATCH WHAT YOU CONSUME
Consumption is far more than the food and drink which we have on a daily basis – although this is obviously a very important aspect of stress management too. Here we need to think about everything that we ‘take in’ throughout our days – food, drink, social media, self-talk, news, movies, people, experiences etc. Just like the food we eat needs to be nourishing to the cells and place as little stress on our bodies as possible, so too does every other aspect of our lives. Negative self-talk and experiences are just as bad in many ways as eating a fatty, pesticide-filled meal – it leaves us feeling weak, malnourished and at the end of the day a little less ourselves than before. Therefore it is of paramount importance to ensure that what you take into your being is allowing you to thrive in all aspects of life.
Having little rituals are such beautiful and simple ways to show a dedication to yourself, the people around you and even to whichever higher power and connection makes sense to you. These are all highly individual and do not need to be complex in their practice whatsoever, they are more little habits to bring a sense of stability in your day. Some of my favourite daily rituals include reading my book with some coffee in the morning, making myself a healthy tea or tonic to nourish and boost my health, expressing gratitude for my food, telling those around me I love them whenever I can and writing down my inner-most thoughts and feelings at the end of the day. These little daily practices probably take less than 4/5 minutes each, and so are easy to fit in and allow you to break away from the world around you and be focused in the now.
I know you’ve heard this before, but there is an actual science behind this: Pranayama (‘Prana’ meaning life force/ breath to sustain the body and ‘Ayama’ meaning to extend or to draw outward) is an ancient method of breathing often done as a part of a Yogic practice – however they need not be done together. Implementing a method of breath consciousness into your life physically and mentally allows for you to feel better – the breath allows for some control and alteration of the biochemistry in the brain therefore quite literally causes cortisol levels to drop, immunity to boost and balance to come to hormones etc. Something as simple square or box breathing where you inhale, hold, exhale, hold all to a count of four while visualising the sides of a box being created with the breath has shown to quickly decrease stress and allow for better concentration and focus.
8. ROUTINE AND SPONTANEITY
Routine – people often look at this word in a negative sense, something which looms over our days to both constrict and dictate our behaviours. I like to see the idea of routine and spontaneity as interlinked, it’s all about how you manage yourself. Procrastination with work is one of the most hard hitting actions when it comes to stress, having a routine not only allows for you to tackle these tasks to avoid last minute crunch time, but it also allows for you to have dedicated time for the self, for fun and to have flexibility in. Developing a practice where you sit down once a day/ week and plan out your ‘to-do’s’ and also your time to have a relaxing bath, have some free time to do whatever you want - is sure to take the pressure off.
Dance, draw, style your clothing, decorate, weave, paint – any and all things creative are nourishing for the whole being. In time spent freely being able to express yourself creatively not only allows you to have a better utilisation of time when you are relaxed, but it also allows for a deeper understanding and exploration of how you feel. Writing in a journal is one of the best known methods to do this. Creative expression allows you to consciously and subconsciously process whatever it is that you are experiencing in your emotional landscape without needing to directly dissect it.
10. SHOW YOURSELF UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
I use the word unconditional here because I think that it is something which we have forgotten. This is where kindness is key, where you are your own best friend and you ensure that no matter what happens, you are taking care of your physical, mental and spiritual self. Disordered thinking of needing to ‘earn’ a break is something which has been indoctrinated into societies thinking at large. We need to work that much harder to deserve a break, run that much further to eat something yummy and push yourself that much more towards fatigue until it’s time to stop. Tied to this is the psychology of lacking, where if we don’t do/ be/ work etc. that much more - we are not worthy. This pressure is something which does not serve, it doesn’t make you more efficient -and more than anything else it creates a pattern of conditional care and compassion for the self. Replacing these patterns with being prepared, taking breaks, not pushing the mind, body or soul so hard will only allow for more space for productivity and a heightened sense of self-worth, therefore reducing stress in all aspects of your life.
11. TAKE A BREAK
Stepping away to gain some perspective over your situation at hand, or simply just to have a rest from a stressful situation benefits the psyche by creating space to process, understand and overcome. This doesn’t have to mean that you take a beach side holiday for a week (great if you can), all it means it creating some intentional distance from the stressor. This could mean a day outing to the mountains, a walk in the local park, reading your book a little longer in bed in the morning, having a pyjama day over the weekend or even just scheduling in a massage during your day. Having some time off, doing something outside of the regular routine will allow you to feel both refreshed and revitalised and therefore able to handle the stressor more effectively.
12. HERBAL SUPPLEMENTATION
We are blessed with an abundance of herbal remedies which can aid reducing and bringing better balance into the body and mind. Boosting the body with natural medicines not only allows for the direct stress/ sleep problem to be addressed but most often they have a list of other benefits which can help the body in these times - protecting the body from any additional compromising conditions.
Here is a list of herbal supplements proven to aid stress naturally:
- Kava Kava
- Lemon Balm
- St John's Wort
And now for my night time tea recipe
This is one of those little rituals that I love, a symbolic act to tell myself it’s time to wind down after a long day.
Either in a pot or in a French press put 1 tbsp of each herb, fill the pot or press with around 2 cups of water.
Leave to simmer for 10 minutes or leave to sit for 20 minutes.
Strain and enjoy with a lovely book - put 10 drops of our RELAX TINCTURE in to ensure an even better nights rest