From never-ending housework to tight deadlines to chauffeuring your kids from one activity to the next – stress is all around us! Somehow, your plate keeps piling higher with responsibilities and situations beyond your control keep falling into your lap.
How can you escape the stress in your life when a vacation is nowhere in sight? Fortunately, there are things you can do to help manage and alleviate your stress without boarding a plane to a secluded island.
Before we get to relieving your stress, let’s talk about how stress is affecting your health.
What is Stress?
Most of us would describe stress as feeling mentally or emotionally overwhelmed or exhausted. The triggers that cause stress can vary from person to person, but I think we’d all agree that feeling stressed is never the goal.
However, stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol, are a part of your body’s natural design. You may be thinking, why do we need stress hormones if we’re trying to avoid stress? Picture this: The sun is shining and there’s a slight breeze in the air so, you decide to go for a walk. As you walk, you inhale and exhale the fresh air, and then it happens - out of nowhere a big, ferocious dog is standing right in front of you! What’s your first instinct? RUN!
Without your stress hormones, you wouldn’t be able to run away from Cujo. Adrenaline, also known as the fight-or-flight hormone, sends signals to your heart to pump faster so that your legs have enough blood supply to run to safety.
If you’ve ever watched those late-night infomercials, you’ve probably heard of cortisol. In the barking dog scenario, cortisol is released to increase your blood sugar levels so that your muscles have the energy to run. Cortisol also lowers the blood supply that goes to other systems in the body, like the digestive system, during a fight-or-flight situation. Why? Well, your body isn’t concerned with digesting food when Cujo is standing in front of you.
How Chronic Stress Affects You
Once a life-threatening situation (acute stress) is over, your stress hormone levels return to normal. However, when you are constantly stressed from bad relationships, a dead-end job, or long to-do lists and not enough sleep, your body perceives that as an attack. This is called chronic stress.
These constant mini-attacks signal your body releases the same stress hormones it would if you were running from Cujo. Since cortisol affects every organ in your body, chronic stress can cause symptoms that don’t make any sense. What kind of symptoms? Constipation, diarrhea, headaches, muscle aches and pain, low libido, chest pain, and fatigue just to name of few. Not only does chronic stress affect you physically, but it also affects you mentally and emotionally. If you’ve been feeling anxious, restless, unmotivated, angry, sad, or depressed it could be because of stress hormones. These feelings often lead to behaviors like overeating, drinking too much, socially withdrawing, and explosive anger.
How to Manage Your Stress
If you didn’t know before, you can see why managing your stress is so important. Being under chronic stress is like taking a sip of poison every day. To put it plainly, stress kills! Here are some inexpensive, yet effective ways to manage your stress at home and at work.
Have you ever noticed how certain scents, like lavender, have a way of making you feel more calm or relaxed? Aromatherapy is a holistic therapy that uses your sense of smell and natural essential oils to help improve your well-being. An essential oil diffuser and essential oils are all you need to set up your own aromatherapy escape!
The Pure Daily Care essential oil diffuser comes with 10 essential oils, a timer setting, and seven light-changing settings all for under $30!
If the natural wood look doesn’t match your décor aesthetic, the Equsupro hand-made glass diffuser comes in a variety of colors and patterns to meet decorative and aromatherapy needs. If you already have a diffuser, just pick up an essential oils pack and let the stress relief begin!
Who knew that taking a supplement could help you relieve your stress? Cortisol-blocking supplements called adaptogens can help to relieve your stress by helping your body manage stress from the inside out! There are a variety of natural herbs and plants that are categorized as adaptogens. The good news is that you can get all of the benefits in a tiny capsule.
Truwild makes a blend of adaptogens that includes ashwagandha, maca, and cordecyps mushrooms. Each capsule is vegan, non-GMO, and gluten-free. For under $20, you get 30 capsules!
If taking capsules is not your thing, no problem! You can blend a supplement powder like Om Mushroom Masterblend into your morning shake! This blend has 10 stress-busting mushrooms and three adaptogens from plants that are non-GMO, vegan, organic, and gluten-free. You get 34 servings for under $20!
A steamy cup of tea is one of the most convenient and inexpensive ways to help cope with stress. With so much tea choose from, which ones should you add to your pantry for stress relief? One of my all-time favorites is Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime tea. This tea gives you the effects of aromatherapy and the relaxing taste of lemongrass, chamomile, and spearmint. Since there is no caffeine, this tea is perfect for helping you relax and get a good night’s sleep. Yogi has a variety of teas that will help you manage your stress. Yogi tea comes in tasty flavors like sweet clementine, soothing caramel, and honey lavender.
4. Weighted Blanket
If you’ve never used a weighted blanket, you may be thinking that being covered up in something heavy is going to cause stress – not relieve it. However, weighted blankets can give you the same warm, secure feeling you experience when you hug someone. The weight of the blanket provides deep pressure that can help with anxiety and insomnia that creeps in during bedtime. The extra sleep that you get each night can help reduce your stress. Weighted blankets come in a variety of weights and sizes.
The Bare Home weighted blanket comes in a twin or full size and weights that range from 7 to 30 pounds! You can even choose from up to eight colors to match your bedroom décor. Prices vary depending on the weight and the size of the blanket.
We get so used to saying things like, “I’m fine,” “I’m good,” or “We’re good” until we start to believe it ourselves. Those bottled-up emotions can fester and manifest as physical symptoms. Sometimes, the pressure is too much and we explode! Journaling is a great way to get in tune with how you really feel.
It wasn’t until I started journaling that I was able to start tackling the things that were causing me stress. Journaling was so helpful because I finally had someone that I knew to listen to how I felt – me. I recommend completing the 30- day F.L.Y. Journal to help you start the process of identifying your stressors, your feelings, and what you need to cut off and keep in your life.
A relaxing massage seems to be just what you need when you’re stressed. Massages not only feel good, but they help relieve the muscular tension that comes with chronic stress. However, you may not have the time or money to keep a weekly appointment with a massage therapist. There’s good news though! You can reap the benefits of a massage in your office or home with a massager.
The Papillion deep massager pillow allows you to get a hands-free massage with three different massage speeds. This massager also delivers heat to help melt your stress away You can place the massager at any of your problem areas while you work, drive, or watch T.V. all for under $40!
I hope that you feel a sense of relief in knowing that you have the power to manage your stress. Stress management is a crucial part of self-care. Invest in your physical and mental because you only get one you and you’re more than worth it!