5 Ways to Beat Stress Naturally
We don’t need to tell you that owning a small business can be stressful. You’ve probably had more than your fair share of sleepless nights, early morning wake-up calls, and weekends focused on work instead of play. But being an entrepreneur doesn’t have to mean being on edge all of the time.
Here are five natural stress remedies that can help you lead a happier, healthier, well-balanced life.
1. Avoid alcoholic beverages. Do you unwind at the end of a long day with a glass of wine or a martini? That nightcap may actually increase stress levels by robbing you of sleep. A 2011 study found that “alcohol decreased sleep duration and efficiency” and “increased how often [study participants] woke during the night.” To reap the relaxation benefits of booze without the sleep deprivation, drink Montmorency cherry juice. The juice contains high levels of natural melatonin, which is known to regulate sleep cycles. Though you’ll find some brands at big box retailers, seek out the “100 percent juice” products at health food stores for maximum potency. Drink one 8 oz. glass about two hours before bedtime.
2. Try a new tea. According to alternative health specialist and nutritionist Lindsey Duncan, American skullcap tea has long been used by herbalists to treat mental disorders and nervous conditions. Sold online and in some health food stores (in tincture, capsule, or teabag form), the perennial North American herb has more than 295 compounds that are thought to relieve stress by modifying levels of neurotransmitters in the brain that impact mood, anxiety, and relaxation.
3. Breathe with intention. All humans breathe, but few do so in a way that maximizes the body’s internal balance. Whenever (and wherever) you feel stress setting in, practice what Drivetime Yoga author Elaine Masters calls the “7-4-7 breath technique” to trigger your relaxation response. Here’s how: Relax your shoulders, close your eyes, and breathe in for a count of seven. Hold the breath for four seconds, and release a long exhale through the nose, with your lips pursed, for a count of seven. Repeat the cycle several times.
4. Give yourself acupressure treatments. According to expert Michael Reed Gach, self-acupressure can increase your ability to concentrate, cope with stress, and make good decisions. Locate the two hollows that exist below the base of your skull (three finger-widths out from the mid-line), which are known as the “gates of the mind.” Press your fingers, thumbs, or knuckles into the area, gently tilt your head back, close your eyes, and apply pressure for two to three minutes.
5. Use your “scents.” Aromatherapy is based on stimulating or suppressing various physiological responses in the body by inhaling essential oils. However, when you’re constantly on the go, there’s rarely time on the agenda for drawing oil-infused bubble baths and lighting scented candles. For less than $10, you can buy an Escents aromatherapy inhaler, which fits in your purse or pocket. The product delivers the soothing benefits of calming essential oils like neroli, bergamot, and lavender in just one sniff. The same company also makes a roll-on version that you can apply to your neck, temples, and chest.
Stephanie Christensen is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.