Stress. It’s a word that means something different to each of us and something many of us will experience at one time or another. At Forest & Shore, our ethos is built on the foundations that wellness comes first - in other words, we believe in doing more of what feels good and creating rituals that impact a more intuitive way of living. When it comes to stress, there are a number of ways to manage it and so we’re sharing everything we know on the best ways to relieve stress so you can live a happier and healthier life.
What is Stress?
Let’s start at the beginning. Stress is simply our body's response to feelings of threat or pressure and it’s something that can affect our mood, mind and body.
You’ve probably heard of the term fight or flight, a natural reaction where our body tells our brain we’re in danger and to react - either striking out (fight) or running away (flight). When this happens, our blood pressure begins to increase and our digestive system may slow down or stop. This makes absorbing nutrients more tricky and as a result, it signals our immune system to go on high alert with all our energy focused on defending against danger.
There are lots of reasons we could be feeling stressed like an injury, family issues or the pressures of work. Most of the time, we’re not actually in any real danger, however, our body doesn’t distinguish this and puts us in alert mode anyway to protect us. Our adrenal glands then produce stress hormones like adrenaline and other signalling substances to help us deal with stress, and only once the perceived danger is over, do our natural stress responses switch off.
For most of us, we’ll experience acute stress, however for some, it may be prolonged and when this happens, the mechanisms our body’s use to deal with stress continue to function, causing our adrenal glands to eventually tire out and become less effective often leading to burnout.
How to Recognise Stress
Now we know what stress is, it’s important to recognise the signs of stress so we can apply different stress-relief methods and get back to feeling good!
We won’t always consider our experiences to be a stress factor because they seem normal in an ever-increasing and fast-paced modern lifestyle, yet it’s recognising these simple signs and listening to our body that can help us to regain control and begin feeling better.
If you’re experiencing stress, you may be:
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Struggling to focus
- Feeling anxious or worrying
- Low in confidence
- Changing the way you eat
- Smoking or drinking more
The Best Ways to Relieve Stress
There are a number of effective ways to relieve stress and most work in harmony with each other, enabling you to make changes more quickly. As with anything, do what feels good for you - you know your body better than anyone!
Remember to Breathe
Taking deep breaths may seem like an obvious one but it’s something we can easily forget to do and do regularly. By inhaling for eight counts through the nose and exhaling for eight counts through the mouth, we increase the supply of oxygen and engage our parasympathetic system that creates calm and connection.
Adjust Your Diet
You might find you eat less or more when you’re stressed so a quick look at your diet will highlight what your body might be lacking, like vitamins, or, getting too much of, like caffeine. Remember to nourish your body with wholesome foods and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and aid digestion.
Move Your Body
Exercise releases those lovely endorphins that make us feel great and so whether it’s putting your favourite playlist on and dancing around the living room or going for a run in the fresh air, move your body and let those endorphins flow!
Essential oils have therapeutic properties and so adding a few drops to a bath, in a diffuser or applying to pulse points will help to promote calm and encourage a deeper feeling of relaxation. Struggling with sleep? Try lavender essential oil. Need a boost of energy? Try peppermint essential oil.
Talk it Out
Don’t keep it to yourself - a problem shared is a problem halved after all. Reach out to your close family and friends and release the thoughts you have been holding in - and if you feel you’ll struggle opening up to someone you know, speak to a professional.
Alongside these stress-relief tips, take time for relaxation too. Whether it’s seeing friends, taking a yoga class, being outdoors, having a massage, meditating or something else, do more of that. Relaxation enables clearer thinking, improves concentration, boosts energy, increases motivation and enhances self-esteem. Whilst stress relief and relaxation are different, they work better together; for example, working out followed by a sauna or surfing the waves followed by floating in the water.
It’s only natural to experience stress sometimes and so by understanding what it is and recognising what might be causing you to feel that way, you’ll be more equipped to reclaim control and able to apply the best ways to relieve stress for you.