Stress Relief 101
Maybe you are stressed because you are a mom of young ones and you are exhausted. Or you are a hard worker who cares about the success of your career. Maybe you’re both!
You could have a stressful relationship with your parents, or your marriage is struggling. Maybe you don’t have enough time to do all the things you need to do.
Perhaps you are a worrier. Maybe your appearance stresses you out because your body won’t let go of unwanted fat.
Some stress is out of our control. We all have things in our life that just aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
I’ve been through the stresses of having a newborn paired with lack of sleep. I’ve struggled with anxiety which leaves me with constant stress mentally and emotionally. I’ve stressed out about my body and appearance. My marriage has been through the wringer. My finances have been in shambles.
I can’t fix your life. I’m not here to do that.
But I am here to teach tools to help you with stress relief.
What Relieves Stress?
- Supplements and medicine
- A Change in circumstances
- Self Care
I have a related post on my Top 5 Favorite Products for Stress Relief.
But this post is different. While I will reference some of the same products, I really want to focus on ACTIONS you can do to relieve your stress.
Most of these actions will help bring your stress down a notch or two immediately but they are also tools that you should incorporate into your week as a way to bring your stress down over time.
I hope you will invest in your wellbeing by utilizing some or all of these tools to relieve your stress!
Supplements and medicine
I am not here to talk about all of the stress relief supplements out there, as I am not qualified. But I have experienced some relief from stress and anxiety from certain supplements. Be sure to talk to your doctor, and get several opinions about options if this is something you want to pursue.
I do include the stress relief supplement Magnesium from Natural Calm in my products for stress relief post because I find it helps with my sleep struggle after having back to back babies that didn’t sleep through the night until… well we are still waiting for that day. Be sure to check with your doctor before taking any and all supplements.
A Change in Circumstances
Sometimes our circumstances are changeable. We can start a budget if we aren’t good with our money and this can relieve stress. But sometimes we are living paycheck to paycheck because our bills are high and our paycheck is low.
The fact is, we all need to assess what we can change, and accept what we cannot.
These stress relievers are here to help you cope and deal with the fact that you will encounter stress.
If you are extra stressed from lack of sleep because you like to binge watch Netflix, this is something you can change. If your lack of sleep is because of babies and toddlers, this is something you cannot change.
Be honest with yourself and don’t put more stress in your life than you must.
Self-care is hard. Sometimes we get stressed trying to care for ourselves! I don’t want to put pressure on you here. Self-care should fit into your life and doesn’t have to be structured if that stresses you out more.
I utilize all of the following stress relievers on a monthly basis but I don’t have any kind of schedule for them. When I don’t go to yoga class or take a relaxing bath, I try not to impose guilt on myself. I simply try to assess my stress levels and make the time for some sort of stress relief when I need it.
Some days I take Epsom salt baths. Other days I lay on the floor in my living room with toddlers trying to tackle me and I take 10 deep belly breaths. Or I grab my foam roller and roll out my tight muscles.
If I get the chance I throw Lavender in the diffuser.
When I take the time to shower I try to dry brush before.
I love to exercise and lift weights so this is something I do almost daily. But what I don’t do is force myself to do something I really hate. If I would rather do bodybuilding than Crossfit I give myself permission to do that. If I want to run outside instead, that’s what I do. I’m not a competitive athlete, I choose things that enhance my life and wellbeing.
How Do You Overcome Stress?
Many of you are struggling with stress weight gain and wondering how you lose the stress weight. Often this weight gain from stress manifests as belly fat and that is NO FUN! Here are 11 different ways to reduce stress and stop gaining weight from stress!
Things you can buy
Here are 5 Stress relief products that will change your life and give you stress relief so that you can get the chance to lose that stress weight.
I used to avoid using my computer because it gave me headaches and made my eyes burn. Looking at my phone increases my stress because it actually hurts my eyes and head.
But when I started this blog the eye strain made it almost unbearable to work. I decided to look into computer glasses and they changed everything! My Pixel Eyewear computer glasses give me the headache and tension relief that I never thought possible. They are SO cute and most important, they keep my eyes from burning and my head from aching! Computer glasses are a MUST if you spend much time looking at screens, including your phone!
These are the Ventus in whiskey tortoise frames and I adore them! Use the code JAXFITLIFE for $5 off!
2. Epsom Salts
I love taking baths! Epsom salt baths are SO good for you. They relieve stress and help you feel happier and calmer. Pair that with some candles for low lighting and you’ve got a 10-minute stress relief session. Dr. Teals Epsom Salts are my favorites! The Coconut Oil Salts make my skin feel so soft!
When I first encountered Essential Oils I thought they were just a good way to relax or helpful for sleep. My masseuse used them and I enjoyed it. I diffused lavender at bedtime.
But I had no idea how important essential oils are for healing and wellness. Check out more information on exactly what essential oils are!
As far as specific oils, everyone knows that Lavender is great for sleep and relaxation but there are many other oils that aid in stress relief!! Check out these oils for anxious feelings!
A few of the best oils for stress relief are bergamot, sage, cedarwood, frankincense, and roman chamomile.
It is important to use high-quality oils that have been 3rd party tested for purity. I am in love with Doterra as a whole. Their business practices are upstanding and honest and they truly care about delivering wellness to all!
If you have more questions about essential oils please feel free to comment and ask any questions you have!
4. Sleep Mask
When you aren’t getting enough sleep your body gets way more stressed out. Stress can also keep you from getting your best sleep. Getting a good amount of quality sleep is vital to your health and wellness and it’s important if you want to lower your stress levels.
I always thought sleep masks were something people only used in movies but I decided to give it a try. My kids are up at night a lot and I’ve only had a few uninterrupted nights since 2015 so I need all the quality sleep I can get. I was having a hard time getting into a deep sleep but when I read about how sleep masks help with quality sleep I gave it a try and I am amazed at how much it helps me go into a deep sleep!
When you filter out all the light (you could also use room darkening curtains for this) your brain produces more melatonin (your sleep chemical) and you get better quality sleep. So even though I may not get a full nights sleep, now with my sleep mask the sleep I am getting is high quality! I was shocked at how much quicker I fell asleep and how much more rested I felt when I started using my sleep mask just two months ago! I bought mine at the store but if Amazon is your jam then here is one from there.
An added benefit is that my eyes and head feel more relaxed with the weight of the mask pressed against them. It helps my mind, eyes, and forehead relax!
5. Dry brushing
This is a new stress reliever for me but I LOVE it. When I first read about it I thought it sounded kind of silly and surely would not help but, it does help with my stress! This belongs in both the things you can buy and things you can do categories. You must buy a brush like this one on Amazon, or just get one at your local store! But then you must actually use it!
Here is a very quick and basic video showing you what dry brushing looks like! Don’t knock it til you try it! This is something I usually do about twice per week. I don’t force myself to do it every day as I have a lot going on with two little toddlers, but before I take an Epsom salt bath or if I have a little of extra time in the morning I grab my brush and spend a minute or two on stress relief.
Things you can do
1. Practice Belly Breathing
This is one of the most UNDERRATED ways of relieving stress. I cannot emphasize enough how quickly and easily this will relieve your stress! You don’t have to spend any money and it takes less than 5 minutes. Watch my tutorial and follow along!
2. Lift Weights
Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to relieve your stress. But you have to be careful when choosing your mode of exercise.
If you do too much cardio on top of a very stressful life, your body will just see it as more stress and hold on to fat because it’s just trying to survive.
Lifting weights is a great option if you are extremely stressed out and cardio just isn’t giving you the fat loss you desire. It is also great if you are experiencing weight loss from stress!
Check out my post ALL about how to strength train! In this post, I’ve tried to answer ALL of your questions. If you have more questions just comment on this or that post and I’ll be sure to respond!
You can also grab my FREE Beginner Strength Training Program for Women right here! I’ve designed this program to be simple so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. I have YouTube tutorials for every single movement and a printable PDF for you to edit and fill in as you go!
You’ll be shocked at how your body releases stress and you drop the body fat when you opt to strength train instead of running your body into the ground with tons of cardio.
If you struggle to stay consistent in the gym check out my post on 5 Reasons I keep Going to the Gym – You can Too!
3. Stretch and Practice Yoga
I know many people cringe at the thought of yoga and think, who has the time for stretching?
Believe me, though, just 10 minutes twice a week will make a huge difference. Or try hitting up a 45-minute class once a week. Try several different classes or Youtube videos so that you can find one you prefer. Every instructor is very different!
If you just want to try a few stress-relieving poses and stress relieving stretches then check out my post where I give you my favorite stretches for stress relief! I have Youtube videos linked for every stretch and pose!
Check it out right here- 10 Easy Yoga Poses for Stress and Anxiety! Follow along for some quick stress relief and don’t forget to breathe as you stretch!
Instead of putting pressure on yourself to do a certain amount of yoga each week (which can just add to the stress because of expectations) just commit to being honest with yourself about the moments you need and can stop and stretch to relieve the stress.
It might just be 2 or 3 stretches before you flop into bed at night! This does not have to be some huge commitment!
4. Eat Better Quality Food!
Food is similar to sleep in that if you don’t eat quality food your body will be stressed. This is because processed food, low in vitamins and nutrients, messes up your hormones. It is also because weight gain can stress us out.
But if you are stressed, your body craves unhealthy foods, because stress causes your body to release more cortisol, and this hormone can cause unhealthy food cravings!
If you have food sensitivities that you don’t know about you can experience bloat and stress among other symptoms. I did before I did an Elimination Diet! I highly recommend working through an Elimination Diet at some point in your life to figure out how you can make the best food choices for you! The sooner you figure it out, the sooner you can get rid of the negative symptoms that come from food sensitivities!
I have an entire post and 3 separate Youtube videos devoted to hashing out How to Eat Healthy When You Don’t Want to. I wrote this post because I am a very picky eater and over time I’ve learned to choose, eat, and enjoy nutritious, whole foods that make me feel good!
6. Foam Roll
If you’ve ever had a massage you know how great it is for stress relief. There are several reasons for this.
- Massages reduce cortisol (that stress hormone!)
- Massages help reduce pain/chronic pain (a huge reason I struggled with heightened stress for years!)
- Massages reduce headaches which contribute to stress.
We would all love to go get a massage weekly for our stress but for most of us, that’s just not practical or affordable. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get a massage at home, anytime you wanted one? Oh look, that’s exactly what the foam roller does!
This is the foam roller I use for overall rolling. It is amazing to roll out the upper back after sitting and staring at a computer for hours!
Speaking of sitting at a computer, neck strain is the worst and this next roller, the stick, is wonderful for rolling out tightness in the neck! You just need a good friend or partner to use it on your neck and shoulders!
If you stand and walk a lot or struggle with foot pain for another reason, this little ball is wonderful!
Once you have your foam roller, watch and follow along with this video to learn how to use it!
This is another activity to not stress about. Just incorporate it when you have the time or feel especially stressed or if you are in some sort of pain!
Why is it important to lower your stress?
Elevated Stress is bad for your physical health
Maybe you don’t care right now about heart disease, high blood pressure, and other serious health conditions. But if you continue to leave your elevated stress levels unchecked you may be forced to care about these serious issues.
But I bet you do care about your skin, your body fat, and your digestive health.
I won’t go into all of the science behind the negative physical effects of elevated stress but if you haven’t experienced negative symptoms of heightened stress, a quick google search will reveal the short and long term negative effects you are likely to encounter including depression and anxiety. If you are already struggling with chronic stress it is likely you have felt the effects of depression and anxiety at times as well.
(If you are experiencing depression or anxiety, a therapist is important! Don’t ignore depression and anxiety!)
Elevated Stress can cause weight gain and your body to hold on to fat
Many of you are probably struggling with one of 2 things. Either you are experiencing unexplained weight gain and you don’t know why, or your body is holding on to fat and you are struggling to lose weight.
Heightened stress causes elevated cortisol in your body and this can result in unexplained weight gain and extra fat, especially belly fat, that just won’t go away no matter what you do!
If I told you that you could lose belly fat by just taking Epsom salt baths, foam rolling, and belly breathing would you do it?
Well, if you can implement these strategies to lower your stress levels over time, your body will be able to regulate those stress hormones better and your body fat will reflect the daily choices you are making to relieve your stress!
It’s not a quick fix, but if you commit to taking care of your stress levels you will thank yourself in the long run!
Elevated Stress can lead to unhealthy eating habits
I bet you’ve never ordered a pizza on a stressful day before? Or grabbed a pint of ice cream out of the freezer? Chinese takeout? Chocolate? Am I getting close?
So you know how stress causes elevated cortisol? That cortisol can cause you to eat more and crave unhealthy foods. Yep, your stress could be contributing to those food cravings that may be causing the not-so-unexplained weight gain.
I don’t want to ignore that fact that some have the opposite problem of unexplained weight loss and this is most certainly an aspect of heightened stress that effects some. You will benefit as well from lowering your stress with these solutions. Be sure to check with your doctor if you experience significant and concerning weight loss!
What will you do to Relieve Your Stress?
Let me know in the comments if you decide to implement these tools for stress relief! If you have any questions or additional resources please share them!
Stress relief can be difficult to implement because we are so busy and skeptical but these products and actions help me with stress so much and I hope you will utilize them as well!