5 easy ways to reduce stress

5 easy ways to reduce stress

Stress is a natural part of life, and although it can be unsettling at times, our stress response is actually very necessary for our survival. When the body perceives it’s approaching danger head-on, the following rise in stress hormones is what kicks our sympathetic nervous system into gear. This response is what’s commonly known as the state of ‘fight or flight’. In prehistoric times, our stress response is what helped us flee from immediate threats, and as the threat passed, the body was able to return to its natural state. These days, there are less life threatening dangers in our modern world, but instead, there are significantly more subtle stressors that we are being asked to adapt to. From work deadlines to bills (not to mention an ongoing pandemic), there are so many stressors that we’re exposed to on the daily. The tricky part is that although these perceived stressors don’t oppose any immediate danger to our survival, our body still reacts in the same way it would if we were facing a life-or-death situation. 

Let that sink in: our body doesn’t know the difference between a life-threatening situation or the stress of an impending work deadline. This is why it’s so important to take inventory of all the ways you might be exposing your body to stress, both internally and externally. Common factors that increase our stress load each day are often things that you may not even be aware of, like inflammation (from the food we eat, digestive dysfunction, or stress itself), physical activity and nutrient deficiencies. When we take a look at our health from a holistic approach, it’s easy to see how these factors can quickly add up and keep us stuck in a sympathetic dominant state. 

But before you let this increase your stress levels, there is some good news! With so much awareness around the effects of stress, there are plenty of quick and easy tools you can implement to reduce the load. So if you’re wanting to get on top of those everyday stressors that can be tricky to avoid, keep reading!

Reduce your coffee consumption

It’s no surprise that the adrenaline hit from your morning cup of coffee could be doing you more harm than good. While coffee does have some health benefits, when it comes to reducing stress and anxiety you might just be better off without it. Not only does your morning coffee have the ability to spike your cortisol throughout the day, but it can also interfere with sleep and cause some serious energy crashes. Switching up your daily coffee (or 3) with matcha will do wonders for your nervous system! By increasing your calming neurotransmitters and boosting your energy levels naturally, matcha provides you with a gentle form of caffeine that won’t fry your adrenals. 

Low intensity exercise

Walking is the most underrated form of stress relief! Amongst the hype of high intensity exercise and ‘doing the most’, it’s easy to forget about the incredible benefits of low intensity exercise like walking. As little as 30 minutes of walking each day offers some powerful health benefits, from boosting mood to relieving stress. It also doubles as a form of mindfulness by taking you out of your environment, and giving you some relief from your daily stressors. The release of endorphins that comes from getting outside and taking to the pavement should not be underestimated.

Box breathing

We know that the sympathetic nervous system is triggered when we’re in a state of ‘fight or flight’. But we can’t talk about the sympathetic nervous system without mentioning the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the opposing state of ‘rest and digest’. In a parasympathetic state, the body realises that there’s no danger and that it’s safe to continue regular processes, like digestion. The parasympathetic nervous system is where we want to be spending most of our time in, and diaphragmatic breathing exercises like box breathing are actually the quickest way to activate this state of rest and digest.

How to box breathe:

  • Breathe in slowly while counting to four, then hold your breath for four counts. Exhale slowly while counting to four, then hold your breath again for four counts. Try this exercise for a few rounds and you’ll notice immediate relief! 

Increase your magnesium intake

Magnesium is involved in over 300 reactions within the body, and it’s a crucial mineral for a healthy stress response. Studies have shown that magnesium is a real hero for managing stress and anxiety. Because it’s a mineral that is easily depleted by things like caffeine and stress, magnesium deficiency is unfortunately pretty common in today's world. Foods that are rich in magnesium include nuts and seeds, avocados, bananas and cacao products. Along with increasing those magnesium rich foods, if you consider yourself to be highly stressed - you could probably benefit from topping up with a good quality magnesium supplement!

Try L-theanine

This powerful amino acid has the unique ability to help you reduce stress and anxiety while increasing your focus. It sounds too good to be true, but it really does relax the mind without causing you to feel tired or drowsy. L-theanine is primarily found in green tea, so it’s no surprise that matcha provides us with a generous dose! Matcha contains around five times the amount of L-theanine found in green tea (for reference, one cup of matcha provides us with roughly 40mg of L-theanine). In addition to being the ultimate stress reliever, L-theanine has also been linked to improved sleep, better immunity and increased mental performance. Try our Premium Matcha Latte to experience the incredible effects of L-theanine for yourself!

Stress is pretty unavoidable, so the goal isn’t to remove all stress from your life. It’s about finding the right tools to support your resilience, so you can effectively manage stress when it inevitably does arise. Implementing some of the tools above will help balance your nervous system and increase your ability to cope with those day-to-day stressors. 

If you’re looking for more ways to nourish your body, check out our recipes for inspiration!