Top 5 natural relaxation techniques

Stress can creep into every aspect of our lives. It can affect us physically and emotionally and is a well-known trigger of migraines.

Effective stress management is therefore crucial for both immediate and long-term health and wellbeing. While medications can sometimes be used to manage stress in severe cases, it is preferable to find natural techniques that can be incorporated into everyday life.

Some effective natural stress relievers that are easily incorporated into everyday life include:

* Breathing techniques such as deep breathing or yogic breathing are extremely effective stress relievers that can be used at any time and in any situation. Whatever is triggering acute stress – an argument with your spouse, a difficult meeting at work, or even going into labour – a few deep, slow breaths can immediately combat the physical symptoms such as raised heart rate, palpitations and breathing difficulties, preventing you from panicking and making you feel more in control of the situation.

* Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and keep your body in good physical shape at the same time. It forces you to breathe deeply, reduces stress hormones and promotes the release of ‘feel-good’ chemicals called endorphins.

And doing something that you really enjoy – whether it’s running, yoga, dancing or gardening – can help relieve the emotional burden of stress as well as the physical symptoms. Remember, exercise can sometimes be a trigger for migraines, so make sure you’re not in this category before you start any of these activities.

* A healthy diet can help to reduce stress. Make sure yours is full of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as oily fish, nuts and avocados for stress-busting omega oils, complex carbohydrates and protein to keep blood sugar stable and avoid mood swings. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, and drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration

* Alternative therapies such as meditation, massage, acupuncture/acupressure, aromatherapy and herbal remedies are often used to relieve stress. Their effectiveness can vary from person to person – if you don’t like being touched by strangers, a massage would be a pretty stressful experience! But once you find something that works for you, you can use it to prevent and manage stress in your everyday life.

* Laughter can diffuse an argument in an instant, help you forget your worries, and quash the physical effects of stress in seconds. The beneficial effects of laughter on wellbeing are so well recognised that hospitals across the UK are even installing cinemas so patients and their families can share a few laughs at the latest comedies and forget their worries for a while.

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