Managing stress everyday is one of the best things we can do to nurture a healthier body and mind. Here are 7 simple solutions to help reduce stress daily.
Noticing the Signs of Stress
It isn't always easy to know when we are feeling stressed, so here are some common signs and symptoms of stress to look out for:
Muscle tension - feeling tension and stiffness in your muscles (like you need a good massage!)
Trouble sleeping - struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, despite being very tired
Concern from family members - loved ones pointing out that you seem stressed or like you’re taking on too much
Low energy & exhaustion - relying on caffeine to keep you going and feeling the need to take naps
Chest tightness & rapid heart beat - which can also exacerbate anxiety
Brain fog & poor concentration - procrastinating, forgetfulness and struggling to focus on tasks
Health problems - anxiety, depression, low mood and insomnia can all be contributed to and worsened by high stress levels
Digestive discomfort - upset stomach, diarrhoea, constipation and nausea
Stress is something which we all experience and cope with differently. You might see yourself as having a stressful lifestyle - or you may think that you’re quite zen, but when stress does happen you struggle to deal with it.
Either way, it can be difficult to identify stress sometimes. Knowing what to look out for can help you to understand when you are stressed, what is causing this stress and how you can better manage it.
What happens to the body when we are stressed?
When faced with stressful situations, a fight or flight response is triggered by the nervous system. This stress response releases a surge of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which prepare the organs in the body to take on a threatening situation.
For example, if a train was heading toward you then these hormones would kick in to cause a number of physiological responses, to maximise your stamina and endurance and give you a better chance to outrun the train! Here is what happens in the body when we experience stress:
- Heart rate increases
- Blood pressure increases
- Muscles contract and tighten
- Senses are heightened
- Breathing rate increases
The trouble is, this innate mechanism was designed to be triggered in genuinely threatening and endangering situations. It’s learned behaviour from our ancestral times when predators and rival tribes were a real threat. However, in the modern world micro-stresses trigger the same physiological response - on a lower level.
These days stress is an expected part of life as we try to manage our busy schedules and juggle a multitude of tasks at the same time. Whilst these stressors are uncomfortable and unpleasant, they do not pose an imminent risk to our health - yet the same physiological responses are triggered.
Everyday stresses which are not well managed can chronically trigger the fight or flight response, building up over time to increase the risk of chronic stress. This has a number of negative effects on the body and mind, which is why managing stress can be a huge factor in promoting overall health and wellness.
Why is stress so bad for us?
Stress levels have a major impact on our mental health and can contribute to other conditions such as anxiety and depression if left unmanaged. When it is chronically activated, the stress response can also have a negative impact on our physical wellbeing.
Studies have shown that chronic stress is related to a number of conditions and negative health outcomes including:
Mental health problems - anxiety disorders, depression and personality disorders
Addictive disorders - often worsened by using substances as coping mechanisms for stress
Obesity and eating disorders
Cardiovascular Disease - high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack and stroke
Sexual dysfunction and loss of libido
Skin and hair problems - skin breakouts and hair loss
Gastrointestinal problems - increased risk of some digestive health conditions
Needless to say, the better we can manage stress the better our overall health will be. It’s not always easy, but learning how to manage daily stressors can really help to prevent chronic stress and reduce the risk of all the negative impacts above.
Healthy habits you can use to manage stress every day
Stress management is one of the best things you can learn to bolster your mental health and overall wellbeing.
Once you know what stress looks like for you and what your common stressors are, you can start to take a proactive approach to reducing your stress levels and boosting your overall health and wellbeing.
Here are some simple, easy and healthy ways you can naturally relieve stress every day.
Physical Activity 🏋️♀️
One of the best natural stress relievers is exercise. Exercise helps to reduce adrenaline and cortisol levels, at the same time as pumping out endorphins - neurotransmitters which help us feel good.
Getting enough exercise is also a great natural way to effectively manage other symptoms of stress, helping to reduce muscle tension, improve sleep quality and boost our mood.
Even in the short-term, if you’ve had a particularly stressful day or experience - just 30 minutes of moderate exercise can help to reset your body and mind.
Relaxation Techniques 🧘♀️
Practising relaxation techniques can help the body to fight back against the fight or flight response, triggering a relaxation response instead. There are loads of great ways to help your body relax, unwind and destress.
- Deep breathing & breathing exercises - which work directly to lower blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate
- Mindfulness & meditation - focusing on the present moment can reduce distraction, instil mental clarity an help to reorganise the mind
- Aromatherapy - using essential oils has been shown to connect with the emotional centre of the brain and create a calming, relaxing effect
- Gratitude & manifestation - create positive thoughts by focusing on what you are grateful for and what you would like to achieve in the future
Getting Enough Sleep 😴
A poor nights sleep worsens just about every aspect of stress - from how well we manage it to the severity of stress symptoms experienced. Not getting enough quality sleep affects our mood, increases fatigue, lowers the immune system and creates brain fog.
On the other hand, improving sleep quality is a fundamental way to prevent the onset of stress and prepare the body to better deal with stressors.
Tips to improve your sleep quality include:
- Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends
- Reduce your screen-time or switch off altogether in the evenings
- Make your bedroom a sleep haven with essential oils, fresh bedding, zero clutter and fresh air
- Enjoy a hot bubble bath before bed
- Read a book or listen to a podcast before going to sleep
Organisation & Time Management ✍️
Stress is often caused by a busy schedule, upcoming deadlines and having to juggle multiple tasks at once. So, improving your organisational skills and focusing on time management can be a great way to prevent the onset of stress.
Here are some top tips you can use everyday:
- Write out a to do list to organise your thoughts and prioritise tasks
- Use the do not disturb function on your phone to avoid distraction
- Set personal and professional goals so that you can focus of self development as well as work
- Practice reflection to review your goals and progress often
- Download a free app to organise your tasks with handy reminders and notifications
Self Care & Time Out 🛁
If you can feel a build up of stress and are noticing symptoms of stress often, then it is time to take some time out for self care.
We all need to relax, unwind and treat ourselves sometimes. It may seem unproductive at first, but managing your stress by investing in self-care can actually help you to reenergise, reset and refocus - ultimately increasing productivity in the long-term.
Take some time out for yourself to enjoy a pamper night, hot bubble bath, spa day, movie marathon, day out or simply treat yourself to your favourite takeaway. Finish off with an early night, followed by a lie in and prepare to be amazed by the absence of stress!
Avoid Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms 🍷
It may be tempting to reach for the caffeine to keep you going, or for a glass of wine to help you relax - but if you rely on these things as coping mechanisms you will never address the root cause of your stress.
What’s more, these can each have negative effects such as sleep disruption, hangovers, increased anxiety and mental fatigue - which can make stress even worse.
Eat a Well Balanced Diet 🥑
Last but not least, enjoying a healthy and balanced diet everyday can really help to manage stress.
What we eat has a huge effect on almost every bodily function; helping to provide energy, prevent illness, boost our mood and much more.
A poor diet lacking essential nutrients can have the opposite effect - negatively impacting overall health and wellness with a knock on effect on stress levels.
Here are some basic guidelines you can follow for a diet that nurtures your body and mind:
- Eat the rainbow - enjoy plenty of fresh fruit and veggies everyday for a health-boosting antioxidant kick, as well as vitamins, minerals and fibre
- Stay hydrated - getting enough fluids is essential for brain health, focus and overall wellness
- Eat little and often - going without food can lead to cravings, distracting hunger and energy slumps, so make sure to pack some healthy snacks if you’re on the move
- Enjoy healthy fats - seeds, nuts, avocado and olive oil are packed with Omega-3 which is great for brain health support and staying energised
- Avoid unhealthy food - processed food packed with added sugar, salt, artificial flavourings and preservatives is less nourishing and introduces harmful, inflammatory ingredients to the diet
- Consider supplements - especially if you’re veggie or vegan, you may need to supplement your diet to make sure you get optimal levels of essential nutrients
- Treat yourself - we all need a treat sometimes, so why not give your favourite guilty pleasure a healthier makeover? Check out our recipes below for some inspiration:
Practising these healthy habits can help to manage daily stresses and prevent micro-stresses from building up and becoming chronic - as well as looking after your overall health and wellbeing.
Health Benefits of Reducing Stress
Stress reduction has a wealth of benefits for both our mental and physical health:
- Lower blood pressure
- Better mood - positive impact on anxiety and depression
- Improved sleep and energy levels
- Reduced risk of stress-related health conditions
- Better concentration and focus
Find your inner zen with Adaptogens 🥰
Adaptogens are compounds found naturally in food which work to clear the stress response as it happens, processing hormones instead of leaving them in circulation.
This helps to restore physiological equilibrium before stress can accumulate and begin to harm our health. You can learn more about adaptogens in our blog post:
Rheal Superfood adaptogenic blends 🌱
We have added some of nature’s most powerful adaptogens to our superfood blends to help you destress, relax, unwind and regain mental clarity.
Together with the healthy habits discussed, you can make superfood adaptogens part of your daily routine to help banish stress and promote overall health and happiness.
Try Rheal Superfood adaptogen blends today:
🍵 Magic Matcha - Lion’s Mane mushroom & ashwagandha for better focus and concentration
🍓 Berry Beauty - Acai berry & maca root for stress relief and immune support
🍫 Coco Dream - Reishi mushroom & ashwagandha to help you destress, unwind, relax and sleep better
- Impact of stress on body function - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5579396/
- Ashwaghandha Root Impact on Stress and Anxiety - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573577/
- Medicinal Properties of Peruvian Maca Root - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3184420/
- Effect of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3991026/
- General Adaptation Syndrome - https://www.healthline.com/health/general-adaptation-syndrome
- Therapeutical Effect of Lion's Mane Mushroom - https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13205-013-0121-9
- Stress and General Adaptation Syndrome - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2038162/pdf/brmedj03603-0003.pdf
- Immune Modulation from Five Major Mushrooms - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684115/
- Effects of Supplementation with Acai on Stress - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4447763/