4 natural ways to relieve stress during the holidays

Cut down on stress with these naturally calming remedies

Physical and emotional stressors take a toll on our body, so I came up with an acronym to help us remember 4 things we can do to help us distress around the holidays. The acronym is BALL: Breathe, Act, Listen and Laugh.

The first letter in my acronym is B for BREATHE. When we’re stressed, it’s important to remember to BREATHE.

Research shows that deep breathing helps to reduce stress levels in the body. I saw first hand how incredible this works. I had a test done where a practitioner measured my nervous system before and after deep breathing for 20 minutes. I literally saw how my nervous system went from a sympathetic state (that’s the state that stimulates the flight-or-fight response, which most of us operate in on a daily basis because we’re always stressed), to a parasympathetic state where I was more relaxed and calm. It was pretty incredible.

It’s FREE and really easy to do. Do it with me. Breathe in for 4 counts (as you breathe in your belly goes out), hold your breath for 4 counts, and then slowly release your breath for 4 counts with control (and your belly goes in). When you release your breath, imagine releasing your stress and anxiety. Do it as many times as you need to until you start feeling more relaxed.

Essential oils are really popular when it comes to reducing stress, as specific scents like lavender and valerian are known to help us relax. Our body is designed to breathe through our nose because we get more oxygen that way. Our nose also purifies the air we breathe. We can breathe in essential oils from our hands (put a little drops in one hand, rub together and breathe it in), or you can use something like the pronto clear and pronto sleep nose device that helps you breathe deeper and clearer. You can use them during the day or at night and they help to clear your sinuses and help you relax. This is what they look like. You charge them for 2 minutes on this little charging station that’s pre-filled with essential oils like lavender, valerian and eucalyptus, then place them into your nostrils. You can wear them to relax, meditate, and do your deep breathing.

The next letter in my acronym is A for “Act.” Taking action to help us better cope with stress is important, because there are key nutrients we need to support our bodies both physically and mentally and when we’re under acute stress, our body needs the extra support. These are what I take:

Magnesium: Magnesium is known as the feel good mineral and it’s responsible for hundreds of functions in our body. When we’re stressed, we deplete magnesium from our body, and when magnesium is depleted, we are more stressed and anxious…so it becomes a vicious circle. About 80% of us are depleted in magnesium, so I recommend making sure you get enough everyday, especially when your stress levels are higher.

Eat plenty of magnesium rich foods like: bananas, dark chocolate, avocados, legumes (peas and lentils), seeds (pumpkin, chia, flax), green leafy veggies like spinach and kale and take a magnesium supplement. The recommended dose for men is 400 to 420 mg a day, and women 310 to 320 mg. You can take it before bed to help you sleep better. It helps to relax your muscles and unwind. You can also bathe in magnesium…Epson salts are magnesium sulfate.

Suntheanine: When we’re stressed our body releases cortisol. It’s highest in the morning when we wake up, or at least it’s supposed to be. But when we’re stressed, and our cortisol levels increase at other times of the day, it can lead to weight gain, which in turn leads to more stress because we’re gaining weight! Taking 50 to 100mg of Suntheanine will help to balance cortisol levels and it will help increase the alpha waves in our brain (which is the calm clear feeling we get when we’re rested). Suntheanine exists naturally in green and matcha tea, but you’d have to drink a lot of tea to get the amount we need, so taking a supplement or adding it to beverages is the best way to get it.

The next letter in my acronym is L for “Listen.”

Sound therapies are known to help us relax. We talked about Sound Bath’s in one of our recent segments and how they help us get into a meditative state fairly quickly. We can also use music and other types of sounds to reduce stress levels, and set the tone for our day.

True story. My husband used to use the sound of freight train to wake him up… I’m not even kidding. And every time it would go off, it would scare me to the point where I could literally feel my cortisol rushing through my body. That’s a good example of how we DON’T want to wake up or set the tone for our day.

Luckily there are some cool devices on the market that use soothing sounds, like nature and the ocean, to ease us out of bed in a more relaxed and calm way and also help us fall asleep.

This is Homedics Slumbers Scents Ultrasonic Diffuser and Alarm Clock. It’s a sound spa that has 6 options to choose from. It’s also a diffuser so you can use essentials oils like lavender to help you sleep better and citrus to help you wake up refreshed.

This is the Philips Somneo Sleep And Wake-Up Light. It also has multiple soothing sound options, and it simulates a sunrise and sunset so you can use it wake and fall asleep.

You can even use both of these to help you relax during the day and reduce stress because they work on several of our senses. You can find them both at Wellwise.

And the last letter in my acronym is L for “Laugh.”

Research shows laughing reduces stress hormones and releases endorphins, our body’s natural feel-good brain chemicals, or neurotransmitters.

If you’re feeling super stressed, do something that makes you laugh—watch a comedy, call a funny friend, watch cat videos, or look at old pictures that remind you of fun times.

Laughing helps us to automatically feel better.