Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but it's one that can be dealt with. Making minor lifestyle changes can have a huge effect on your daily stress levels. Try the home remedies below to help lower your general stress levels:
Get a support system. Spend time with friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, and others who understand you and can offer friendship, love, and support.
Work at achieving reasonable control over your life. You can't control everything around you, but if you can get a good handle on your job and relationships, you'll be better able to deal with stress. In fact, having little autonomy on the job is one of the factors that's been shown to lead to stress at work. If your job or a relationship leaves you feeling totally out of control despite your efforts, it may even be necessary to make a change.
Have a sense of purpose to your life. Waking up each morning with a good reason to get up and a sense of purpose is crucial to stress management. If you find yourself with too much time on your hands, doing some volunteer work may help.
Laugh a little. Humor helps keep problems in perspective, and the act of laughing actually causes chemical changes in your body that elevate your sense of well-being. If you need some help in that department, watch a funny movie or television program, go to a comedy club, read newspaper comics, or share some enjoyable memories with an old friend.
Work out your troubles. Aerobic exercise can do a lot for your body and mind. It can induce a sense of well-being and tone down the stress response. And you don't need to run a marathon, either; three 20-minute periods of exercise each week is enough. So take a break and get out there and walk, swim, bike, jog, dance, or aerobicize. Check with your doctor before starting any program if you're not a regular exerciser or if you have any significant health problems.
Opt for an unstimulating diet. Cut back on caffeine, a dietary stimulant that can make you feel anxious even when you aren't under stress. Who needs the extra jitters? Nicotine can do the same, so reduce or give up the cigarette habit.
Change the self-talks in your head. We all have silent conversations with ourselves every day, and they can have great power over our stress levels. Negative, tension-triggering thoughts -- What will the IRS do to me? How am I going to pay my medical bills? Will I get that promotion? -- aren't helpful. They paint us into a corner and offer us no choices. More positive, rational self-talks can inspire rather than depress. Irrational self-talks may be a long-standing habit with you, so try to modify them a little at a time. If you need help, consult a therapist.
Realize you can't control all stresses. There are some situations you can't control -- hurricanes, layoffs, and so on -- and a good way to reduce stress is to accept being out of control in such situations. Try to change what is in your control, and work at gracefully accepting what's not.
Take time out to relax. Spend at least 15 minutes each day doing something that relaxes you. Schedule the time in your calendar or planner if necessary, because it's just as important to your well-being as any other appointment.
Relaxation exercises that release muscle tension can help a lot. To do them, inhale and tighten a group of muscles, then exhale and relax them. Then proceed to the next muscle group and repeat. Start with your toes and slowly work your way up to your face.
Another option is visualization. Start out by picking a pleasant and relaxing place where you've been or maybe someplace you'd like to visit. Then picture yourself there, imagining not only how things would look but how your surroundings would smell, taste, and feel. Breathe slowly throughout, and play the scene in your mind for about five minutes.
Some people don't find these techniques relaxing. If you don't, take some time for yourself and figure out what soothes you. Other options you might want to try include gardening, crocheting, photography, painting, and listening to or making music.
Take charge of your finances. A shaky financial situation can create great strain, so do what you can to get your financial house in order. Work to reduce your credit-card debt and get some money in the bank. If you need help, talk with a financial advisor. Often, just taking those first few steps toward bringing your finances under control can really lower the stress level.
Don't try to have it all. Society pushes us to attain wealth, power, and all the trappings of success along with a great personal and family life. However, it's nearly impossible to succeed in every area. Decide what's most important to you and your peace of mind, then focus on that.
Get help if you have major stressful problems that you can't deal with. See a therapist, marriage counselor, psychologist, social worker, or clergy member who can help you sort through and begin to solve at least some of the problems that are stressing you.
Breathe deeply and slowly. Taking steady, slow abdominal breaths can help you cool off in a stressful situation so that you can think more clearly. Try this short breathing-relaxation technique: Breathe in to the count of five. Hold your breath for five counts, and then exhale for five counts. Repeat one more time. (Don't go much beyond that or race through the counts, however, because you could start hyperventilating.) Be patient. It may take some practice to get this down; smokers, in particular, may have trouble.
Don't take out your frustrations on the wrong person. For example, don't take out your work problems on your kids. Instead, clearly identify the problem, figure out some strategies to solve or minimize it, and then put them into action. Otherwise, you'll simply be compounding the stress you feel.
Still stressed? Several home remedies from the kitchen may help alleviate stress in your life, or at least calm its effects. In the next section, we'll discuss what common household items can help you feel calmer.
For more information on dealing with emotional troubles, check out the following sections:
- To see all of our home remedies and the conditions they treat, go to our main Home Remedies page.
- For a greater understanding of how stress starts, visit our How Stress Works page.
- To learn about what causes depression and its effects, read How Depression Works.
- Dealing with headaches? Check out the Home Remedies for Headaches article.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.