I’m a great believer in researching alternative methods to improve our health and well-being. With this in mind, I’ve taken a look at some proven stress-reducing methods from different cultures around the world. You may have already read my blog on popular stress-reducing techniques, but if you’re looking for something a little bit different to help you relax after a stressful day, read on!
Shinrin-Yoku is a Japanese practice meaning ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’ or ‘forest bathing’. Forest bathing is a form of Japanese relaxation developed in the 1980’s, and promotes spending time in a forest for improved health and well-being. This study was carried out to put the technique to the test and analyse its effects on health. It found that forest bathing can significantly reduce hostility and depression, increase liveliness, and can be used as a stress reduction technique. I tend to go for walks when I’m feeling stressed or frustrated about something, and I definitely feel like it clears my head and helps me to feel more relaxed. Whether you have a forest nearby to walk in or not, I think this signifies the importance of getting outdoors!
Ayurveda is a three-thousand-year-old Indian tradition focusing on the mind, body and spirit to reduce stress levels. This practice aims to balance our health and well-being, incorporating various activities to help us to achieve our “balance”. The treatment combines some elements I’ve mentioned throughout this blog, such as embracing the outdoors, incorporating colour into our diet and getting a better night’s sleep (thank you jasmine! More on that later in the blog…). Ayurveda is a pretty easy going stress-reducing technique (as you’d hope I guess….), incorporating meditation and taking it easy as part of the process. To start practicing this traditional technique or read more about it, click here.
Kava root is found on the Piper Methysticum plant and has been used to treat anything from tuberculosis to asthma. It’s been used for medicinal purposes for centuries across the western Pacific and is now also recognised for its calming, sleep-inducing effects. Several studies have proven that this root reduces anxiety, whilst also acting as a natural sedative. It has been found in preliminary research that natural Kava may be just as effective as benzodiazepines (a medicine used to treat insomnia and anxiety). If you want to give it a try, Kava supplements can be found in a quick Google search here!
Used in healing since 2000BC, acupressure is a traditional Chinese therapy. Physical pressure is applied to the body to “unblock channels”, allowing energy to flow and natural healing to take place. Evidence suggests this therapy helps to release natural chemicals within the body, reducing pain, releasing endorphins and improving stress levels. Some of the most common acupressure points can be found online, allowing self-treatment of various ailments from fatigue to headaches.
5. Colour Therapy
Another treatment focusing on correcting imbalances within the body, this technique suggests colours have different balancing effects. Red, for example, is thought to be uplifting (not what I would have expected!) and blue to have calming effects. Originating in ancient Egypt, India and China, this stress-reducing technique is based on the theory that we associate colours with feelings and memories throughout our lives. We can build bad connotations towards a colour that has made us feel sad, and equally positive feelings towards a colour we associate with happiness.
Coloured lights, coloured liquid or coloured torches are the various tools used to administer colour therapy. Evidence suggests colour can affect our mood. This knowledge resulted in a Texan prison adopting pink uniforms to reduce aggression! Although shining coloured lights everywhere may seem a bit much, I definitely think colour does affect our mood. Think about the difference between a bright yellow sun shining and dull grey clouds looming… I know which colour I’d prefer…
Research has found that plants can help us to be calmer, the presence of which can drop your blood pressure and stress levels. Lavender and jasmine are particularly helpful for reducing stress. Lavender reduces anxiety and jasmine promote’s a better nights sleep according to studies. We have stronger mental health when we’re rested. So why not bring the outdoors inside and invest in some stress reducing, sleep enhancing houseplants?!
Do you have any unusual ways of reducing your stress levels?!