Looking for natural ways to reduce stress and anxiety? Check out these evidence-based ideas and simple tips that will have you feeling happier and healthier in no time!
This post is sponsored by Ridgecrest Herbals. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make it possible for Root + Revel to provide free content and healthy living inspiration.
Do you ever suffer from stress or anxiety?
Stress is one of the world’s largest health problems, leading to exhaustion, burnout, anxiety, a weak immune system, and even organ damage. (source)
While no one is immune to anxious feelings and getting stressed out is quite easy to do, it's unfortunately much harder to find relief. We all react differently to different remedies, and what works for one person may not be the best remedy for you.
That's why we've rounded up these 13 proven ways to reduce stress and anxiety. Try them and see which ones feel best to you!
13 Ways to Reduce Stress + Anxiety
1) Take Supplements for Anxiety Management
If you’re feeling full of anxiety and don’t know where to start when it comes to trying to change your habits and mindset–before you turn to pharmaceuticals and prescriptions to calm your nerves–try a more natural approach like a supplement that’s shown to reduce anxiety.
My husband, Matt, recently was struggling with some physical anxiety and took Anxiety Free from Ridgecrest Herbals. After a few weeks, he came to me out of the blue (I kid you not!) and told me he could tell a noticeable difference in how he felt–less racing thoughts and rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, jitters before an important work call or presentation, etc. He was amazed!
Ridgecrest Herbals’ botanical formulas are rooted in what’s worked for centuries (if not millennia!) in traditional holistic modalities, yet they’ve added some innovative upgrades.
For example, Ridgecrest uses homeoactive™ encapsulation, a way of combining homeopathics with herbs or nutrients for maximum potency, and Portfolio™ formulation, a way of using small doses of many ingredients to increase the safety and efficacy of herbal formulations.
Their Anxiety Free Stress Relief Complex contains:
- Ashwagandha, an Ayurvedic adaptogenic herb which may support a number of bodily systems, and often used to promote calm and help promote a healthy immune system
- L-Theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, that may promote relaxation and help relieve stress
- Lavender Herb, well-known for its gentle, lovely scent and ability to promote relaxation
- Passion Flower Herb, which may promote well-being, relaxation, and sleep
In fact, Anxiety Free won the ‘Remedies Stress Award’ in 2018, and the ‘Best of Supplements’ Award from Better Nutrition in 2016.
So if prolonged levels of stress are throwing your body out of whack and causing you irritability, fatigue, or tension, try Anxiety Free to support your body’s natural ability to create feelings of peace, calm, and overall ‘zen’-iness.
If you're looking for adrenal function and energy support, try Ridgecrest Herbals' Adrenal Fatigue Fighter. It's made up of ingredients and adaptogens shown to help promote energy, encourage focus and positive mood, and support healthy cortisol levels (all without any stimulants!) like Eleuthero root, Asian Ginseng Root, Schisandra Fruit, Suma root, Astragalus Root, American Ginseng Root, Ashwagandha Root Extract, and Holy Basil Extract.
2) Practice Mindfulness
In the simplest of terms, mindfulness means focusing your attention on the present moment. That’s it!
The truth is, most of us are so busy that–while we’re more connected to the world around us than ever before–we’re not present or grounded in our own being or body. We’re usually in our heads, worrying about the future, or reliving the past, or reacting to and judging what’s happening in the present.
This causes a ton of stress, anxiety, depression, and disconnection with ourselves and our loved ones. It leaves us feeling like all we have time to do is be ‘busy’ checking off our to-do lists, without having a deeper, more intimate connection to ourselves or others.
That’s where mindfulness comes in! Mindfulness connects us back to the goodness of the present moment. It allows us to drop into our bodies by noticing our emotions and physical sensations. The more we can observe the present moment–with acceptance–the more benefits you’ll feel.
It takes practice, but soon you’ll notice that you'll feel more connected to life, more settled, centered and relaxed in your body, while also being more attuned to your intuition and inner knowing. It also allows for a deeper connection with our friends, family, and coworkers.
See our post on 10 ways you can practice mindfulness today!
3) Improve Your Quality of Sleep
You may be thinking, “Yea, I know I know, I’m supposed to get eight hours per night like the experts say, and then I’ll be set.”
Nope! Turns out that’s a myth, and there’s something way more important than the number of hours.
Just like everything else, it's QUALITY over quantity, or ‘sleep efficiency'. Good sleep is LESS about the number of hours you sleep and MORE about turning your sleep into an extremely restful and rejuvenating time. Why?
Getting great quality sleep has been linked to MANY health benefits, including:
- a strengthened immune system
- less predisposition to cancer and accelerated tumor growth (tumors grow two to three times faster in laboratory animals with severe sleep dysfunctions)
- improvement of memory, problem-solving skills, increased mental + physical performance
- can lessen symptoms of other conditions including hypothyroidism, heart disease, stomach ulcers, constipation, depression, and anxiety
- supports a healthy metabolism
- slowing down (or, at least, not accelerating!) the aging process
(I learned all of this from Ari Whitten's Energy Blueprint course. If you’re interested in taking a deeper dive into how to kick fatigue to the curb and optimize your health, I HIGHLY recommend it! Sign up for his free masterclass here, OR Take this quiz to discover your energy score.)
In order to truly recharge our battery, we have to focus on getting the most regenerative and restorative sleep quality so we can build a healthy foundation for our circadian rhythm to thrive.
Check out our 9 tips for how to get better sleep, naturally!
4) Ditch food rules and eat intuitively
Contrary to some popular beliefs, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to health and wellness. The trouble with “wellness” type diets is that there is so much hyper-focus on food alone (ie: what to eat, what not to eat, how to prepare it, proper portions and macros, etc.), that it winds up being completely counterproductive to overall health.
Most of us feel so stressed out and worried about what we're eating, obsessing over every morsel that it causes tons of stress–which ironically creates health problems! MORE important than the actual food we eat is HOW we think and feel about food.
This includes our mindset, our stress levels, our emotions, and our energy towards how we approach food–and ultimately–how we approach life at large.
Intuitive eating is about finding what feels good and right for YOUR body. Only YOU can know what that is (not anyone else who doesn’t live inside your body like the supposed ‘experts').
While there are obvious nutritional differences among food, eating intuitively means ditching the judgment and moralistic labels around food so that you can actually enjoy eating without feelings of guilt or shame. When you do this, you'll gain freedom, peace, and confidence, not only in your relationship with food and your body, but in your whole life.
To learn more, read this Q&A with My Intuitive Eating Nutritionist.
5) Get Outside Daily
Research in a growing scientific field called ecotherapy has shown a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. (source)
This can be active–like walking, running, or exercising–or more passive–like grounding yourself with your feet on the earth or relaxing in a cozy chair.
Walking is a simple but effective way to rejuvenate your mind and body. Take a stroll around the office building to get a break from a frustrating task, or go for a long walk in the park after work. Taking a walk allows you to enjoy a change of scenery, which can get you into a different frame of mind, plus the added benefit of getting some light exercise.
So get out, breathe the fresh air, and enjoy that Vitamin D!
6) Practice Yoga, Dance, or Other Forms of Exercise
It might seem contradictory, but putting physical stress on your body through exercise can relieve mental stress.
Exercise is a fantastic stress reliever that can work in minutes. There are a few reasons behind this:
- Stress hormones: Exercise lowers your body’s stress hormones, such as cortisol, in the long run. It also helps release endorphins, which are chemicals that improve your mood and act as natural painkillers.
- Sleep: Exercise can also improve your sleep quality, which can be negatively affected by stress and anxiety (see point #3 above).
- Confidence: When you exercise regularly, you may feel more competent and confident in your body, which in turn promotes mental wellbeing.
- Try to find an exercise routine or activity you enjoy, such as walking, dancing, rock climbing, or yoga.
Activities such as walking or jogging that involve repetitive movements of large muscle groups can be particularly stress relieving.
7) Use Essential Oils to Reduce Stress
Some have sedative properties and induce a calm, peaceful, uplifting and relaxed feeling. Here are some of the most soothing:
Ready to get some oils and start experiencing their magic?
If you’re looking for great quality with super reasonable prices, I love Plant Therapy–their oils are 100% pure, free from any additives, adulterants, or dilutions. Their essential oils come in varieties like synergies, singles, organic, and pre-diluted roll-ons, and their facility is USDA Certified Organic. Plus you can get 10% off your order of $50 or more sitewide with the coupon code ROOT10!
8) Laugh More
It’s hard to feel anxious when you’re laughing! It’s good for your health because it can:
- Relieve your stress response
- Relieve tension by relaxing your muscles
In the long term, laughter can also help improve your immune system and mood. (source)
A study among people with cancer found that people in the laughter intervention group experienced more stress relief than those who were simply distracted. (source)
This one is easy, and free! The next time you're stressed, try watching a funny TV show or calling a friend who makes you laugh.
9) Reduce Stress With Red Light Therapy
As it turns out, human cells NEED different kinds of light, just like we need water, air, and food to function.
Red and near-infrared (NIR) light therapy is like magic. It can:
- boost cellular health and function
- improve immunity
- speed up wound healing
- reduce inflammation
- improve cell regeneration
All of this leads to better organ health, skin health, balanced hormones, improved mood and a whole lot more!
Believe it or not, there are now over 3,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies showing incredible health and anti-aging benefits of red light and NIR light therapy, with no known negative side effects. (Can’t say that about pharmaceuticals, now can ya?!)
Read our post to learn all about the health benefits of red light therapy, plus our favorite devices.
10) Listen to music
Listening to music can have a very relaxing effect on the body. (source) But what types?
- Slow-paced instrumental music can induce the relaxation response by helping lower blood pressure and heart rate as well as stress hormones
- Nature sounds can also be very calming; this is why they’re often incorporated into relaxation and meditation music
- Some types of classical, Celtic, Native American and Indian music can be particularly soothing
- Simply listening to the music you most enjoy is extremely effective too! (source)
11) Spend time with your pet
Having fur babies may help reduce stress and improve your mood, hot diggity dog!
Interacting with pets helps release oxytocin, a brain chemical that promotes a positive mood. (source) I mean, even just watching cute or funny cat videos makes me instantly happy!
Having a pet may also help relieve stress by giving you purpose, keeping you active and providing companionship–all of which are qualities that help reduce anxiety.
If a pet isn't feasible for you right now, go spend time with a friend's dog or cat, or go to your local animal shelter and hold a kitten (works every time!).
12) Create Art
Creative hand use–the act of using your hands along with your imagination to create something new–is very healing.
It focuses on the PROCESS rather than RESULTS, which can relieve anxiety and stress since we spend so much of our time trying to achieve specific results and do things ‘perfectly'.
Creating art can help us:
- Gain more self-awareness (which, in turn, helps us make better choices and be more effective)
- become more resilient
- become more confident in our decisions
- experience peace of mind, tranquility, and sense of well-being
Research consistently shows that coloring can have a meditative effect. One study found that anxiety levels decline in people who were coloring complex geometric patterns, making it a perfect outlet for stress reduction.
13) Cuddle or get a hug
Physical touch can do wonders to relieve your stress, and hugging a loved one can be especially beneficial. In fact, cuddling, kissing, hugging and sex can all help relieve stress by releasing oxytocin (also known as the “cuddle hormone”) and lowering cortisol (a stress hormone). (source, source)
- is associated with higher levels of happiness and lower levels of stress
- causes a reduction in blood pressure and heart rate (both of which are physical symptoms of stress)
- reduces the stress hormone norepinephrine and can produce a sense of relaxation
So don't be afraid to ask a loved one for a hug if you need it. It's good for both of you and it can be one of the simplest forms of stress relief available!
Now, over to you! What are your favorite ways to reduce stress and anxiety? Let us know in the comments below!