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These days stress seems to be our common language. It is such an accepted part of who we are, we may find it hard to imagine a day without that flutter in the stomach or that lump in the throat. Whether we’re dealing with work or school deadlines, family or relationship problems, financial worries or the state of our collective health during these uncertain times, occasional stress is a fact of life, and finding the best tools to deal with it are important considerations.
Luckily, stress busters come in all shapes and forms and don’t require a great deal of effort or expense to get the job done. Some simple strategies that may help you relax, a good magnesium supplement – we recommend calming magnesium glycinate – and even a few minor changes to your diet can make a significant difference. When it comes to DIY stress remedies, these easy-to-use techniques can help you find your way to a calmer, more relaxed state of mind, a more positive outlook, and even a healthy night’s sleep.
The backbone of every meditation, yoga or tai chi session, your breath is central to your ability to focus on the present moment and regain control of your emotions. Listening to how air enters and leaves your lungs can have a centering effect, slow your heart rate and calm a racing mind. While the soothing effects are temporary, the more you engage in the practice of deep breathing, the longer the feeling is likely to last. Let’s give it a try:
Repeat this breathing technique for as long as it feels comfortable, as many times throughout the day as needed. The beauty of deep breathing is that it can be done anywhere, for any amount of time. Whether you do this simple relaxation exercise for 15 minutes at bedtime to help you get ready for sleep, or try it for two minutes in your office chair to center your mind right before that important presentation, it will likely have a positive effect on your day.
Another very effective breathing exercise is the 4-7-8 deep breathing technique. This and other breathing exercises can help oxygenate the body, relax and focus the mind and control the fight or flight response that happens automatically when we feel stressed.
Exercise has been known to boost your energy levels, promote a positive attitude and help lift your mood. Workouts and other strenuous activities help you physically work through some of the tightness and tension in your muscles. But more importantly, they can slow production of cortisol – the body’s stress hormone – while promoting the release of endorphins, mood-boosting chemicals that work with the opioid receptors in the brain to improve your attitude and your mindset.
Whether you opt for a hardcore weight lifting routine, a 30-minute bike ride or a brisk walk through the neighborhood, consistently moving your body will offer powerful benefits for both your mental and your physical health.
We all know about comfort food for occasional stress relief. A steaming bowl of pasta or a hot-from-the-oven brownie can trick your brain and your gut into believing all is well. Here’s how: Certain foods – particularly carbs – can help promote the brain’s production of serotonin, that feel-good hormone that helps improve your mood and control your body’s natural stress response.
A few small changes in your diet could make a significant difference in your stress level and your overall health:
Important to muscle function, bone strength and cardiovascular health, magnesium is also essential to nerve health. This powerful mineral may have a calming effect on your central nervous system and could play an essential role in how your body adapts to stress. Magnesium may help support the activity of neurotransmitters thought to help slow excess brain activity during stressful times.
As many as 50% of Americans may be getting inadequate amounts of magnesium. Adding magnesium-rich foods – dark, leafy greens, nuts, tofu, dark chocolate, avocados and beans – to your diet is an excellent option. Supplementation is another simple and cost effective way to give your body the magnesium it needs for a healthy balance.
Formulated for better absorption and utilization, magnesium glycinate – magnesium bonded with the amino acid glycine – is gentler on digestion and could have a powerful soothing effect on both body and mind. Taken at bedtime or any time you feel stressed, it may help support muscle relaxation, a calm mindset and a normal, healthy sleep cycle.
Whether you’re strolling through a park or powering through a hike in the woods, time spent in nature can be beneficial for both body and mind, helping to reduce stress levels and promote feelings of well-being. There may be a clear connection between time spent in a natural setting and reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain associated with unpleasant thoughts and negativity.
In Japan, government subsidized forest trails are visited by hundreds of thousands of people each year for mindful, therapeutic walks under the trees in a kind of forest therapy known as shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. Phytoncides, natural compounds trees and plants release into the air, may be the reason for Mother Nature’s powerful calming properties. When breathed in, these fragrant compounds are thought to help reduce the concentration of stress hormones, uplift the mood and even boost the activity of white blood cells in the body for better immune function.
Of course, you don’t need to trek all the way to Japan to get the full benefit. Sitting under a tree in your backyard or strolling beneath a canopy of branches in a nearby park or trail should do the trick!
As you probably already know firsthand, your capacity for restful, restorative sleep can be affected by occasional stress. While those stress-inducing thoughts and worries may be keeping you up at night, here’s the second half of that vicious cycle: lack of sleep leads to – you guessed it – higher cortisol levels, and more stress.
Since most experts recommend getting seven to nine hours each night, it’s important to work towards developing good sleep habits to help you get the rest you need. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day will help reset your internal clock for better sleep, and turning off all your electronics a couple of hours beforehand is strongly recommended. Create a good, restful environment by keeping your bedroom dark and cool and making sure you have a comfortable mattress. Meditating or doing the deep breathing exercises we talked about earlier will help you relax and prepare you for a good night’s rest.
Many psychologists consider negative thinking to be one of the 21st century’s great afflictions. Focusing on what can go wrong in our lives can easily snowball and become a pattern of negativity that colors our way of thinking and can lead to higher cortisol levels and more stress.
You can fight worry, fear and other difficult emotions by simply finding something uplifting to think about. One simple and effective strategy is to make a list of all the things in your life that make you feel grateful. Keep that list where you can see it often, then keep adding to it. Items on your list can be as meaningful as being grateful for your family and friends, or as trivial as the rush you feel when tucking into a piece of your favorite cake. After a while, you’ll be surprised how long that list gets.
If you can develop a pattern of behavior that keeps you moving towards gratefulness and full appreciation for all the people, places and things that bring you joy, you can start rewiring your brain towards peace, contentment and a calmer, more positive and fulfilling life.
As we mentioned earlier, magnesium glycinate is an excellent supplement that may help support feelings of calm, relaxation and a balanced mood. Here are some excellent choices to consider from our family of brands:
Zhou Mag Glycinate 450. Clocking in at 450mg per 2-tablet serving, the Zhou Mag Glycinate 450 offers one of the higher servings, or 107% of the recommended daily value. Designed for maximum delivery, superior release and waste-free absorption to help you get the most from every serving. Non-GMO, gluten free, soy free, lab verified. 180 tablets.
KAL Magnesium Glycinate 400mg. Chelated form provides 95% of your recommended daily value per 2-tablet serving. Designed for maximum bioavailability, this mag features KAL’s trademarked ActivTab technology, ensuring tablet disintegration within 30 minutes (per USP standards). Value size offers 10% more tablets for one low price. Non-GMO, vegan, gluten free, soy free, lab verified. 200 tablets.
KAL Calm Magnesium Anti-Stress Drink. Calming powdered mix brings you 325mg of magnesium glycinate per teaspoon for 77% of your RDV. Ideal for people who have trouble swallowing pills, or anyone looking for a refreshing way to get more magnesium into their diet. With wild blueberry and other natural flavors and plant-based sweeteners. Non-GMO, vegan, no added sugar, gluten free, lab verified. 12.7 oz.
Nature’s Life Magnesium Glycinate 400. Two easy-to-swallow softgels offer 95% of your recommended daily value, and are formulated for better absorption and easier digestion. Lab tested to ensure the purity and quality of its ingredients. 60 softgels.
For nighttime support, also try Natural Balance Happy Sleeper, with 5-HTP, melatonin, GABA, valerian and more to help support a healthy sleep cycle.
Zhou Nutrition Calm Now. This top-selling anti-stress support formula is designed to help you maintain a relaxed, focused mindset and mood and can help support healthy serotonin levels for a calm, centered headspace. Zhou’s proprietary botanical blend brings together Eastern traditions and modern research, and includes ashwagandha, rhodiola, passion flower, bacopa monnieri and other powerful mood-support herbs. 60ct.
Natural Balance Happy Camper Kava Kava Root Extract. Traditionally served as a calming drink, islanders in the South Pacific love kava kava for its reputed soothing effect on the central nervous system. These vegetarian capsules offer the same mind and body relaxation support in convenient vegetarian capsules that provide 70 mg of kavalactones, key components in kava believed to help support important neurotransmitters in the brain. 60ct
Statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition.