We all know we should sleep, meditate and rest when we’re stressed, but sometimes that doesn’t cut it. In this article, we explore a few new ways to find much-needed calm.
by Stacy Mosel, LMSW
Stress is a fact of life. It affects everyone and can strike in hidden and insidious ways, leading to a range of problems, including sleep disturbances, productivity loss and physical and mental health concerns. If you’re feeling stressed and tense, you’re not alone: According to a 2019 Gallup poll, 55% of Americans reported feeling stressed during the day.
With the world average being 35%, that makes Americans the most stressed-out people on the planet.
We are dedicated to helping you bring your mind and body into balance at The Root of It All — and that includes finding natural ways to de-stress and reduce tension. We know that you’ve probably already tried the obvious (like more rest or meditation), so we’ve compiled some alternate suggestions to help you conjure up some inner peace. Keep reading to discover a few of our favorites.
1. Calming Herbs and Essential Oils
One of the best ways to combat stress is to incorporate daily lifestyle tweaks or rituals that leave you feeling calm and support your mind-body balance. Incorporating some of the traditions of Ayurveda, an ancient Hindu system of medicine used to promote balance and wellness through the use of specific herbs and spices, is an excellent way to do just that. Practitioners believe certain herbs have calming and tension-reducing qualities, including lemongrass, ylang-ylang, bergamot, orange, basil and sweet fennel. For these reasons we use them in two of our most popular CBD-infused essential-oil blends: SLOW for calming and EASE for stress. You can also try individual essential oils that have relaxing aromas, such as lavender or orange, and put a few drops in a diffuser or a warm bath to help soothe stress.
Many people also benefit from ashwagandha, an Ayurvedic herb that clinical studies have found to help ease stress, and lavender, an herb that research has shown to help promote restful sleep (which is why we include it, along with chamomile and valerian root, in our STOP for sleeping blend).
2. Video Games and Apps
Turns out, playing video games isn’t just a way to have fun and pass the time; one study examined the impact that playing casual video games (like Solitaire or other similar low-stakes games) had on stress. Study participants experienced marked physiological effects consistent with reduced stress.
If computer or console video games aren’t your thing, you might try simple apps like Bubble Wrap or Color Break. Any game or app that distracts your mind and promotes focus on a simple task can help calm your nervous system and is a good way to recenter yourself throughout the day if you find your stress levels spiking.
3. Group Stress-Relief Games
As adults, we often lose our childlike enjoyment of interactive games and play. But group play is one of the most beneficial ways to let off steam and de-stress. People are social beings, yet our modern lifestyles often leave people feeling lonely and isolated, which can cause stress. Playing stress-relieving games with others can be a beneficial way to connect, bond and encourage teamwork (if needed in a work setting) while alleviating tension. These stress-relief games include treasure hunts, stress ball games and group gratitude activities to help promote mindfulness and laughter which is one of the best ways to reduce stress.
Bonus tip: If you work remotely, you can still test out a few of these stress relieving games by getting those you live with on board. Not only will it help you unwind, it will create a shared memory in the process.
The idea of baking might seem stressful for some, but psychologists say that baking can relieve stress because it provides a feeling of comfort, triggers your senses and gives you a tangible reward to anticipate. Using your hands to knead dough or form cookies is a tactile distraction that takes your mind off of whatever is happening in your life and helps you focus on the task at hand. You don’t have to follow a complicated recipe — you can use store-bought mixes to make cookies or cakes. Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, try this healthy Ayurvedic carrot love loaf recipe from Hale Pule Ayurveda and Yoga in New Zealand.
Our modern lifestyles often leave us feeling disconnected from nature, which can be even more intense for people who live in urban areas. But connecting to nature is one of the best ways to relieve stress: Studies have found that even short-term visits to nature areas (including urban nature parks) can produce measurable reductions in levels of salivary cortisol (the body’s stress hormone).
Being active in nature may be even more beneficial, as one study found that people who exercised (such as jogging or biking) in natural settings experienced higher levels of calm than people engaged in less strenuous activities. The important point is to find a natural setting where you can disconnect, even if it’s just sitting alone in a park or walking by the sea.
Keep in Mind
Addressing stress as it arises can help stop you feeling overwhelmed and out of control. You can practice simple, on-the-spot stress management techniques like deep breathing or talking to a friend if you don’t have the time or resources to practice the tips we’ve mentioned here.
The most important thing to remember is that while you can’t always control external events, you can control your reactions to stress. Try to practice some form of stress management daily, even if that just means setting aside 10 minutes to sit quietly or give yourself a relaxing self-massage. At the end of a long and stressful day, we also suggest trying our REWIND for restoration essential ointment blend with turmeric, black pepper and cloves to treat your senses to an aromatic experience while soothing aching muscles and joints naturally.
Stacy Mosel, LMSW is a health and wellness writer, as well as a licensed social worker, yoga enthusiast, certified Reiki practitioner and musician. She received a bachelor’s degree in music from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1999 and a master’s degree in social work from New York University in 2002.