There are many natural ways to reduce stress and anxiety. For example, doing gardening and drinking tea could reduce your stress. You don’t need to take tons of pills or drugs to relieve your stress and other related problems. Taking too many unnecessary drugs will definitely harm your health. According to Paracelsus, who is a founder of toxicology, everything including pharmaceutical drugs is poison if we take too many.
“All things are poisons, for there is nothing without poisonous qualities. It is only the dose which makes a thing poison.”
Although there are many different natural cures claiming to be effective stress reliever on the internet, some of them are not scientifically proven or even worse may harm your health. In other words, some of them are not effective to reduce stress and they may be just gimmick created by unethical businessmen. The reason for creating these “cures” is to trick your money into their pockets.
Therefore, I’m going to share with you four natural ways that are supported by scientific evidence. They are gardening, essential oil, tea and natural food. I’ll describe what they are and then explain how they could relieve your stress and anxiety.
Gardening is the practice of growing and cultivating plants as part of horticulture. At the first glance, you may be wondering whether you have to need a garden to do gardening. Actually, it’s not necessary for you to have a garden to do this. You can grow your plants in an indoor environment such as your home and office. It doesn’t matter what kinds of plants you grow. So, you can choose the ones you want to plant like any flowering plants. But of course, you have to know how to take care of them before growing them.
If you don’t know how to grow plants properly or you don’t have enough time to take care of them, you may consider indoor gardening first. Because you need to acquire more knowledge, skills, and effort to maintain an outdoor garden. If you want to try indoor gardening, you can read my previous post about indoor gardening for more information.
Many research studies have shown that gardening could be an effective stress reliever. For example, according to a health research study by Wageningen University in The Netherlands, the stress level of the participants decreased both significantly and instantly after doing 30 minutes of outdoor gardening (1).
Why does gardening relieve your stress and anxiety? This can be explained from the psychological point of view. As reported by Cardiff Metropolitan University, doing allotment gardening can somehow distract you from your bad mood and thinking about the stressful events you have (2). Also, you will not only be satisfied by observing your plants growing, you will also be satisfied by confirming yourself that you have skills and expertise to make things happen (2).
If you want to know more how gardening could reduce stress, you can read my previous post called “Does Gardening Relieve Stress? Surprising Gift From Nature“.
What is essential oil? It is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants. In plain English, it is an extraction from a plant and it is a kind of plant oil. Why does the name contain “essential”? Because an oil is “essential” in the sense that it contains the “essence” of the plant’s fragrance. There are different types of essential oil. You may even hear of some of them because they’re widely used in different products. Lavender, cypress, eucalyptus and peppermint are some of the examples of essential oil.
So, how should you use essential oil? There are different ways to use the oil. Some people even use the oil to refresh kitchen surface and fridge. The most common three ways are applying it to your skin, inhaling it and ingesting it. I even heard about cooking food with the oil.
There are some research studies showing that essential oil could also be an effective stress reliever. For example, as reported by Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine at Japan, lavender aroma is likely to have a stress relief effect (3). This is because its researchers have found that the participants who inhale lavender oil reduced their stress levels significantly 10 minutes later.
Why could lavender aroma reduce stress? The researchers suggest that its “volatile compounds may enter the bloodstream” by way of the nose or lung, or may diffuse directly into nerves in the nose and pass up to the brain which affects the sympathetic nervous system (3). Since the sympathetic nervous system is related to control of stress level by the body, inhaling lavender aroma could reduce stress.
Drinking tea including herbal tea could reduce your stress as well. I don’t think I need to describe what tea is because I believe you all know it. So, I’ll just focus on writing what herbal tea is.
What is Herbal tea then? Actually, its proper name is tisane. It is any beverage made from the infusion or decoction of herbs, spices, or other plant material like flowers, leafs, roots and seeds in hot water, and usually, does not contain caffeine.
Strictly speaking, tisanes are not true teas. The definition of true tea is tea made from a species of plant called Camellia sinensi. Green tea and brown tea are made from this type of plant so they are the examples of true tea. However, tisanes are not made from Camellia sinensi. So, they are technically not true teas.
There are different types of tisane. I’m going to tell you some of the common ones. They are peppermint tea, ginger tea, chamomile tea, rooibos tea, lemon balm tea, milk thistle and dandelion tea, and rosehip tea. If you want to make an herbal tea that can calm your nerve, you can read my previous post called “How To Make Herbal Tea That Calms Nerves“.
So, how does tea relieve stress? There is some scientific evidence showing tea has stress relief effect. For example, according to the department of Epidemiology and Public Health of University College London at the UK, drinking black tea for 6 weeks reduced participants’ stress level and thus gave them greater relaxation (4). But researchers don’t know exactly which ingredients in the black tea cause stress relief.
Actually, the term, natural food, is not well defined. So, what I literally mean is foods that are minimally processed and do not contain any other food additives like food color and flavorings. For example, all kinds of fresh fruits such as apple and orange, and fresh vegetables are natural foods. Potato chips, canned food, tinned vegetables and any other processed food are not natural foods.
There are some types of natural food for fighting anxiety. They are whole grain foods, seaweed, blueberries, acai berry, almonds and maca root.
There are also some kinds of natural food for reducing stress. Any food with magnesium, vitamin B12 (and other B vitamins), zinc, and antioxidants could help to relieve stress.
Why does these natural food reduce stress and anxiety? Because they all contain certain types of nutrients which are important fro stress and anxiety relief. For example, as reported by Deakin University School of Medicine at Australia, participants eat whole grain food were less likely to suffer from anxiety disorders (5). Because whole grain foods consist of a nutrient called tryptophan which becomes serotonin in our body. For those of you who don’t have any biological knowledge, serotonin is proven to be a calming neurotransmitter.
One thing I should remind you is you should not rely on natural food too much! If you eat too much, you will become fat and that’s not healthy. If you do this, you will likely suffer from emotional eating which is one of the unhealthy ways to reduce stress!
By and large, there are many different natural ways to reduce stress and anxiety. However, not all of them are effective. Some of them may even harm your health. Because of this, I choose four natural ways that are proven to be effective by scientific evidence. They are gardening, essential oil, tea and natural food. In order to ensure you know what they are and understand their importances, I described what they are and explained how they could relieve your stress and anxiety.
Of course, everyone has different preferences regarding stress relievers and anti-anxiety solutions. So, if you don’t like a particular solution, you should choose another one. The main point is you should enjoy the solution.
I hope you enjoyed this article and if you have any questions about my article or want to leave your own personal opinion, leave a comment below.
1 Van Den Berg AE, Custers MH. Gardening promotes neuroendocrine and affective restoration from stress. Journal of Health Psychology. 2010 Jun 3.
2 Hawkins JL, Mercer J, Thirlaway KJ, Clayton DA. “Doing” gardening and “being” at the allotment site: exploring the benefits of allotment gardening for stress reduction and healthy aging. Ecopsychology. 2013 Jun 1;5(2):110-25.
3 Toda M, Morimoto K. Effect of lavender aroma on salivary endocrinological stress markers. Archives of oral biology. 2008 Oct 31;53(10):964-8.
4 Steptoe A, Gibson EL, Vounonvirta R, Williams ED, Hamer M, Rycroft JA, Erusalimsky JD, Wardle J. The effects of tea on psychophysiological stress responsivity and post-stress recovery: a randomised double-blind trial. Psychopharmacology. 2007 Jan 1;190(1):81-9.
5 Jacka FN, Pasco JA, Mykletun A, Williams LJ, Hodge AM, O’Reilly SL, Nicholson GC, Kotowicz MA, Berk M. Association of Western and traditional diets with depression and anxiety in women. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2010 Jan 4;167(3):305-11.