April is Stress Awareness Month and Maker & Merchant has compiled our favorite natural, non-toxic ways stress busters. Stress can compromise our health, body and immune system, and the best thing you can do during stressful times is to carve out some me time to reset. Follow along with our practical tips and practice some #selfcare for real.
1. Take Time to Disconnect
Scroll, double tap, like, pin, share, repeat. Does this sound familiar? We’ve become accustomed to reaching for our phones to fill those in-between- times, but the constant distraction can actually be detrimental.
“In 2016, the American Psychology Association surveyed 3,511 U.S. adults ages 18 plus for their “Stress in America” study. Eighty-six percent reported constantly or often checking their email, texts and social media accounts. The same study found that stress runs higher among people who constantly check their email, texts and social media.” (source)
Technology can be a very beneficial part of modern life, but there can always be too much of a good thing. It is important to set limits (hello Instagram timer settings!) and carve out a respite from the constant scrolling. So what is our favorite stress buster to unplug? A hot, therapeutic bath where you’re quite literally forced to put the phone down.
A therapeutic bath doesn’t have to consist of anything over the top to be beneficial, although we are huge suckers for a good #bathleisure selfie. Just dim the lights, light a candle, pour in one cup of Dead Sea Salt and/ or Himalayan Sea Salt with a few drops of lavender essential oil and unwind naturally- no pictures not required.
2. Deep Breathing Exercises
A great way to mindfully reset stress when you’re feeling overwhelmed is through conscious breathing. Deep breathing also goes by the names of diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing, and paced respiration. When we are stressed or anxious, a natural reaction is to breathe in a more shallow manner- which can actually make us feel more anxious.
To practice deep breathing, find a quiet space (if you can) and settle in. Once you’re comfortable, practice inhaling for a full count of four, then pause and hold the breath for another count of four. Exhale the breath for another counter of four, and finally, hold for another count of four after your exhale... Repeat. You will quite literally feel the stress you’ve been holding dissipate.
Aromatherapy is an excellent addition to mindfulness practices, with Lavender being the most well-known for mood-lifting and anxiety reduction. Try Maker & Merchant’s Lavender Hydrosol for extra dose of calm with your conscious breathing exercises.
If you’d like to explore the mindfulness technique further, check out Brené Brown discussing here.
3. Make Time for Massage
The spa music, the scent of essential oils , 60 minutes of pure, undisturbed bliss…
A great massage is a wonderful way to relieve the tense muscles that come with stress. And while we all deserve a treat every once in awhile, it is not always realistic to take 60 minutes of uninterrupted me time!
Enter Abhyanga, the Ayurvedic tradition of self- massage. Performed with a warmed, natural oil- Abhyanga is the massage you need to de-stress. No appointment required! Simply save a few minutes post- bathing to indulge in a loving daily practice. Did you know the sanskrit word “Sneha” translates to both oil and love? Quite literally, to oil oneself is to love oneself.
Popular oils for Abhyanga include Sweet Almond Oil, Sesame Oil and Coconut Oil. Simply take your slightly warmed oil (up to 1 cup) and massage into the skin starting at the neck/ears and moving down to the feet. Remember to take your time! This is supposed to be a time to reset and indulge.
Extra: Watch a video demonstration of abhyanga here.
4. Opt Outside
If you’re anything like us, you spend much more time in front of a computer than taking in the beauty of nature. If you need a reason to ditch the laptop for a little sunshine, a growing number of studies suggest that spending time in green spaces are a great way to lower stress and anxiety.
A 2010 study published in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine... found that participants who walked in a forest had lower blood pressure and levels of cortisol (a.k.a. the stress hormone) afterwards than those who strolled through a city environment. (source)
While we are always down for a hike, there are other ways to get your fresh air fix. Simple daily rituals like enjoying lunch outside, going for a leisurely walk on a nearby trail, or just listening to the sounds of nature are enough to lower cortisol and reset stress.
Remember to always be conscious of your surroundings and don’t forget the Epsom Salt to soothe sore feet and muscles if you opt for a long trek!
Stress Busting Saviors We Used