bicycle on a boat dock in the sunlight

Feeling stressed out, overworked, or underappreciated? It’s normal to feel tension and anxiety at times, but sometimes it can be overwhelming.

Our world moves at a fast pace. But if you don’t take time to slow down and manage the stress in your life it can threaten your mental and physical well-being.

Sometimes events happen that seem out of our control and the stress seems almost too much to bear.

At times like these, stress relief techniques can help you manage your stress levels instead of feeling overwhelmed, and like your life is spinning out of control.

I learned this the hard way, nearly a decade ago…

Hitting Rock Bottom

My entire life I’d been healthy. Before Lyme disease, I was a strong young mom to 4 children, a wife, and a Special Education teacher.

But after being bitten by 2 tiny ticks in my backyard in Missouri I lived 2 years with untreated Lyme in constant pain, debilitating fatigue, and a host of emerging symptoms.

It eventually turned into a chronic health crisis when I found myself bedridden, having to resign from my teaching job because I was too chronically ill to do anything. 

Being confined to bed day and night gave me a lot of time to think and re-evaluate my priorities.

Despite my strong-willed nature, after months of doctors appointments without any answers, and worsening symptoms, I started to question if I would live much longer. My body seemed to be worsening by the day and the doctors and specialists didn’t seem to know how to help me. I felt so discouraged, sad, and alone.

Going through this forced me to slow down. I barely had the energy to turn over in bed, there was little way I could cook dinner for my family or take my kids to their practices and school activities.

It was breaking my heart.

Learning Ways To Deal With Stress

After months of reflection, I realized that before the illness I had been so hard on myself, always multitasking, trying to do too much. I rarely never took the time to do anything for myself. 

But now I see things quite differently. Though it doesn’t always come naturally, I’ve embraced simplicity. Instead of trying to do all the things and please everyone, I’m more selective about how I spend my time.

Since embracing these natural strategies my stress is better managed and I feel more relaxed. Now when the unavoidable stressful situations come along, I feel better prepared to handle them.

And, if I notice myself starting to feel flooded by stressful thoughts I have these strategies to help me decompress and find my focus again. I hope you find these tips to be as helpful as I have.

5 Simple Strategies To Reduce Stress

1. Eat real food.

Eating healthy, whole food is one of the best things you can do for your health. Some foods even have a calming effect on the body that can help you reduce stress. Foods rich in vitamin C, complex carbohydrates, Omega-3’s, and magnesium are excellent choices for lessening the impact of stress.

Some of these foods include:

  • oranges lower cortisol and boost the immune system
  • spinach, leafy greens, and salmon help prevent headaches and improve sleep
  • Omega-3 fatty acids include tuna, salmon, nuts, and seeds. They decrease stress hormones.
  • The complex carbs in fruits, vegetables, and oatmeal promote serotonin production, which balances our mood and helps prevent depression.

2. Move your body

Working out has impressive health benefits. But it’s also a great way to lower your stress levels and boost endorphins (your brain’s “feel-good” hormones).

One study even found that exercise and antidepressants were equally effective at treating severe depression.

The best way to start is by finding an activity you enjoy. Walking outdoors is a good option for many people, but if this doesn’t interest you, some of these ideas might excite you more.:

  • Pilates
  • jogging or running
  • yoga
  • jumping on a mini-trampoline
  • lifting weights
  • swimming
  • Crossfit
  • dancing
  • free YouTube workouts
  • rollerblading
  • hiking

3. Practice gratitude

Keeping a gratitude journal reminds you of all the good in your life. When you focus more on the good, the stress of life doesn’t feel so overwhelming.

In fact, research has shown that people who practice gratitude experience many benefits, including greater happiness.

If you’re curious about how this works, here are 20 easy ways to express gratitude to get you started.

4. Deep breathing

Quite possibly the easiest tip here, breathing intentionally has many benefits. Plus, you can do it anywhere!

Deep breathing is known to lower stress and promote feelings of relaxation.

Practice breathing slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth. Repeat this 3 or 4 times, several times a day.

Notice how you feel before and after the practice.

5. Make sleep a priority

Not getting enough sleep makes it more difficult to deal with stress.

And, yes, stress can also make it hard to sleep.

But the good news is, that there are many steps you can take to promote healthy sleep habits. These include:

  • keeping the temperature cool
  • drinking chamomile tea
  • having a regular sleep and wake schedule
  • avoiding caffeine and alcohol late in the day
  • exercising earlier in the day
  • creating an inviting sleeping environment with comfortable bedding and soft pillows
  • cutting back on blue light exposure in the evening
  • doing something relaxing before bed – reading a book, taking a hot bath, listening to music

Related: 16 Quick Tips To Help You Sleep Better Tonight

Summary – Reduce Stress And Feel More Relaxed

Embracing a life of wellness is a journey. And whether you’re healthy, have a chronic illness, or are dealing with other stressful life events making these simple strategies a part of your everyday life will help you experience less stress and more peace.
Simply start with the one tips that seems most comfortable for you. Then when it becomes a habit add another one. And before you know it you’ll be well on your way to living a happier, healthier, and more relaxed life.

If you’re ready to make some of the changes that have helped me relieve stress and embrace a fuller, more balanced life, I’ve put together a free 7-day stress relief course to help you.