Monday, August 31, 2015

14 Natural Remedies for Stress


It's no secret that there has been a lot of stress in my life with my dad being on/off sick, so it's almost as if the past few years have been a big lesson in stress management for me. When I was a little girl, I used to look at adults like, "WHY are they so stressed ALL the time?!" ....and now being an adult myself, I know why! 

There will always be some kind of external stress in your life - work, family, health, relationships, immigration, financial stress - one stress can easily be replaced by another, and it usually is. Sometimes it places people in a state of chronic stress and anxiety, if they don't know how to manage it and find ways to mute it. Not to mention, stress causes and can worsen so many illnesses - so it's essential to control it for your health.

In the past few years, I feel grateful for the stress because it has taught me a greater life lesson - how to manage it - which I'm sure will help me in upcoming years. All the the stress management techniques that I practice are natural remedies, and the best part is that you can choose what works for you, on any given day.


1. Be in nature
When I feel like I need a break from the busyness of life, I always turn to nature. There is nothing like going to the forest or the beach and feel how grand nature is. Being near centuries-old trees and a vast, deep ocean shows you how small your problems really are. Being in nature has a way of centering you and absorbing negative energy. Nature is so beautiful and calming.

2. Tea Time
There's something about sitting quietly and drinking hot tea or coffee that refreshes and re-energizes you. With a hot beverage, you have no choice but to sip it slowly, or else it will spill. Having a designated daily tea time during the day gives you a moment to catch your breath, and if need be - reset your day. I love drinking a cup of hot tea, first thing in the morning as I look out the window to my neighbourhood. I also do an additional tea time in the mid-afternoon, which gives me a chance to catch my breath and reset my batteries. (You can use caffeine-free tea too!)

3. Develop a hobby
Some of the most chronically stressed people that I know happen to have NO life of their own, outside of work and family obligations. They easily shuttle between one to another, without any time for any activities for themselves. Developing a hobby - that has nothing to do with work or family - simply something you can just enjoy, for you, is a great stress buster. It takes the pressure off of life. Hobbies can be a wide range of things - it can be creative, athletic, etc. And sometimes, you can enjoy your hobbies so much that you may end up changing careers down the road!

4. Kissing and hugging
I love to take a moment in the day just to cuddle with my daughter or husband-ji. It is nice to be near to a loved one and be physically close enough to listen to their heartbeat. It gives them attention and makes them feel supported. Sometimes there are no words to say, but a great hug solves all problems.

5. Watch children playing
Children are such pure spirits and life is so simple for them. If you have children in your family, you can take a time out and play with them. If you don't have children, you can always go to a local park and just watch them, or even volunteer. Being with children is mutually beneficial - to them and you. Turn off all devices, and just watch kids play for 30 minutes. You can even double up by grabbing a cup of coffee and heading to a local park! It is an instant refresher, and you won't think of anything else except how wondrous it is to be a child.

6. Help take care of pets/animals
Animals, much like children, have beautiful spirits. Many household pets require constant care and affection, like feeding, brushing, petting, and dog walking. To look into the eyes of an animal and take care of them is an instant way to feel good. If you don't have pets at home, you can offer to babysit a friend's pet, or go to a local animal shelter and visit or volunteer. The best part about being with animals is that you don't have to talk because it is more of a mental connection. A great stress relief is doing something like walking the dog - which combines exercise, being in nature, and animal therapy.

7. People-watch in a busy place
Even though I like to go to calm places, sometimes it is nice to go sit in a coffee shop, a bookstore, or even a bench right in the middle of the city. I love how in Europe, the cafes have patios where you can just watch everyone go by. Seeing the hustle and bustle of daily life actually brings you down to Earth. Everyone is busy in life, everyone has places to go and things to do, everyone has their own problems. It takes you outside yourself - it makes you notice things. You start to wonder about people, and where they're going. What do you observe? This method is also great if you're stuck in a creative rut.

8. Read something
It's no secret that I love to read. For me, it is not so much about knowledge, but concentrating on someone else's story quiets my mind. Reading a book takes you to another place and time, without even moving anywhere. I love seeing how characters develop and how stories twist and turn. Reading helps me relax, improves my focus, and puts me to sleep like a baby!

9. Bathe with Essential Oils
Having a bath/shower at the end of the day is a great bedtime ritual that helps you unwind and pamper yourself. Instead of using expensive bubble bath, sometimes I just use a few drops of essential oils, sea salt, baking soda, and/or epsom salts. You can even mix the essential oils, based on your mood. The steam from the bath also clears your sinuses, and relaxes tensed muscles. Having a salt bath makes me feel like I'm floating in the ocean.

10. Listening to music
I hate driving and dealing with traffic, so the only thing that saves my sanity in the car is listening to music and singing along. It somehow makes the car ride feel shorter. I also like to put on some kind of classical music on in the home (carnatic, sarod, binaural beats) if I have some down time. Listening to music is a great alternative to screen time and having the TV on.

11. Yoga/meditation/stretching
I make it a point to attend my weekly yoga class, which is basically like going to church for me. I also like to practice the stretches at home in the evening, to strengthen my spine and release tension in my muscles. Meditation is also a great practice that instantly recharges you. These methods really help one thing - your breathing - and oxygen is always a good thing!

12. Cut down on screen time
Yes, the internet is a great place which can help you feel so interconnected and in touch with like individuals. There are lots of articles you can explore with just a click, and it can inspire you too. But, it can also severely stress you out. A bad news article can offset your whole mood, and looking at rude internet comments can make you feel like you've lost all faith in humanity. Plus, screen time can really interfere with your sleep and it is essentially a huge time sucker. If you don't cut down on screen time, it can literally run your life.

13. Keep a private journal
I love keeping private journals or notepads that I can just jot down notes in randomly. If something is really bothering you, then you can just write it down and close the book. There's something about the pencil and paper that makes your writing more honest and personal.

14. Plan a special trip!
Everyone thinks traveling is stressful, but one of my favorite ways to de-stress is actually to plan a special trip. I love researching things to do in different cities, and crossing off things to do for my bucket list. Just the thought of an upcoming vacation brings me a sense of adventure and excitement!

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Dear readers, what are your favorite ways to destress? 
How do you incorporate them into your life regularly?


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2 comments

  1. This is so timely. I have so much to do in the next 22 days preparing for a double-interstate-move (the second destination and time of which is unknown) and I am at times under so much stress I am in physical pain. I have been trying to use many of these things to destress but the hardest part is ALLOWING YOURSELF time to do that. There's always so much to do that taking out time to decompress feels like a guilty pleasure and not a necessity.

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  2. Very nice and helpful list ! <3 (Padparadscha)

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