The year 2020 has managed to become synonymous with all things chaotic, unfortunate, and dumpster fire-y. The once-in-a-generation pandemic and a massive election year has left our nerves frayed and frazzled. This unprecedented stress has been present for so long, in fact, that it’s managed to melt into the background of everyday life -- it’s our “new normal,” so to speak.
Prolonged stress can manifest in a myriad of ways, including anxiety; depression; sleep and digestive disorders; weight gain; memory loss, and even more severe side effects like cancer and cardiovascular disease. So although it isn’t always easy, it’s incredibly important to not only give ourselves the grace to feel our feelings in their entirety but love ourselves enough to work on letting that stress go when and where we can.
If you’re looking for simple, holistic, and natural ways to soothe buzzing nerves and brain-tangling stress, there are several options to try from herbal supplements to aromatherapy to diet to physical movement. While none of these options is a miracle cure-all, and some experimenting might be necessary to find the right mix of treatment for you, these methods of natural stress and anxiety relief might get you on the path towards finding peace of mind.
Note: This is in no way refuting the importance of modern medicine in the treatment of diagnosed mental health disorders (Mother Earth is good, but she’s admittedly not that good). If you are on any medication, please consult with your doctor before adding new forms of treatment (natural or otherwise) to your normal regimen.
Your mom was onto something when she demanded you eat your veggies. Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants absorbed from our food help us regulate mood, digestion, and sleep. Make sure to include the following in your day-to-day diet:
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is often inaccurately associated with tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. The former is a chemical found naturally in cannabis (both marijuana and hemp), but only the latter provides the feeling of intoxication (translation: THC gets you high, CBD does not). This isn’t the reefer you sneaked out to smoke as a teenager; this is medicine.
CBD is thought to interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain, and while this interaction is not fully understood yet, researchers believe CBD may alter serotonin signals. Low serotonin levels are commonly associated with people who have depression and anxiety. Conventional treatment for low serotonin is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), but some people suffering from anxiety and high stress levels have been able to manage their condition with CBD instead. CBD may also benefit people suffering from social anxiety disorder (SAD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
CBD has been infused just about anything these days: tinctures, teas, food, lotions, and even make-up. It’s important to take a few extra steps to research the company, its products’ CBD content, and their methods of harvesting. Health.com has compiled a list of their top ten recommended CBD oils and is a great place to start if you’re new to the world of cannabidiol.
This is probably one of my least favorite pieces of advice for combatting stress and anxiety, so I understand if you’re mid-eye-roll, but there’s a reason why it’s repeated time and time again. Scientists everywhere have been saying that exercise in almost any form acts as a natural stress reliever. And no, you don’t have to run ten miles just to get your feel-good endorphin fix.
As a non-athletic person with a jam-packed schedule (at least pre-pandemic #laughingthroughthepain), the idea of taking more time out of my airtight schedule only stressed me out more. But the great part about using physical movement to relieve stress is it can be whatever you want it to be. If you prefer traditional forms of exercise like running, swimming, or weight lifting, more power to you! But if you’ve often struggled with a disconnect between your frazzled mind and a stationary body, try one of these modes of non-strenuous and non-time-consuming physical movement to ease some of that stress.
As we age, our bodies naturally release less dopamine. This drop in our “reward” chemical makes time appear to move faster, which can prompt feelings of stress and anxiety due to a perceived lack of time that’s never fully regained. In a world as busy as ours, it’s easy to fly from one task to the next without taking a second to breathe. Try these simple exercises in gratitude and self-reflection to slow those pesky hands of time from zooming around the clock while you’re not looking.