Mother Nature’s Surprising Antidote to Stress
What is it about a stroll in the woods or going for a walk along a country lane that seems to bring a sense of inner peace?
The same way that walking barefoot on the beach, watching the waves and collecting seashells brings so much joy into your heart.
Is it simply because you’ve “got back to nature”?
Is it because you are outside breathing fresh air for a change instead of being stuck in the stress box you call your office?
There is, in fact, a perfectly natural one-word explanation for why you feel so calm and content.
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Fractals! They're all around you, wherever you look. They are even inside you.
What are fractals and how do they reduce stress? The simplest way to describe a fractal is a pattern that repeats itself over a decreasing scale.
Take trees for example. The branches are copies of the trunk, only smaller. The smaller branches are copies of the larger branches they stemmed from. Twigs are copies of the smaller branches. Each part of the tree is a smaller copy of the whole.
If you were to look at a snowflake under a magnifying glass before it melts, you would see that it is made up of the same complex repeating pattern.
Since the beginning of humanity, we have been surrounded by fractals. They are Mother Nature's building blocks and our evolutionary comfort zone.
Here are some other examples of F.R.A.C.T.A.L.S found in the natural world:
F - Fiddlehead Ferns
R - Romanesco Broccoli (aka Brocciflower)
A - Aloe Vera plants
C - Crystals
T - Trees & Leaves
A - Angelica Flowers
L - Lightning
S - Seashells
How do you use fractals for stress relief?
The obvious answer would be, don’t spend so much time inside! Tear yourself away from the artificial environment you usually inhabit and get outside more. Even if you have limited time to be at one with nature, nothing is stopping you from getting out in the open air during your work break.
Stand and watch the clouds, or sit on a park bench and watch the trees swaying in the breeze for a few minutes. Do some deep breathing and fill your lungs with fresh air while you’re there. You’ll soon feel your stress melting away like that snowflake you put under the magnifying glass earlier.
But what about when you can't get out? It's probably not going to be possible for you to drop everything and walk out of the office every time you feel your stress levels rising. Try looking out of the window for a minute or so instead.
And there is another way too. According to research, looking at man-made fractals, such as fractal art, is equally as effective. You can just as quickly lower your stress levels by watching a fractal screensaver on your computer for a few seconds, as you can by watching the clouds roll by or the trees swaying.
Yes, it might seem incredible, but studies have shown the calming effects that fractals have on the mind really do take effect very quickly.
So if you've been trying to find out how to reduce your stress levels without resorting to pills or expensive therapy sessions, look around you. The solution is everywhere, hiding in plain sight.
5 Natural Remedies For Reducing Stress
When things go wrong at work or at home, that's the time you're most likely to feel your stress levels rising. If you have no coping mechanisms in place or don't have a way of dealing with the punches in life, then stress can quite literally ruin your life. Here are five natural remedies for reducing the effect that stress has on your body.
Sleep isn't only necessary for our bodies to rest physically; it's also the time when both body and mind switch to repair and rejuvenate mode. You can counteract the effects of stress by getting 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep each night. To achieve this, it’s essential to have a proper bedtime routine, so your body knows it’s time to switch off and sleep.
Go to bed at the same time each night. Do something relaxing to wind down properly beforehand. Have a warm shower, sip a cup of green tea or read a book. Establishing a proper routine will work wonders for your sleep patterns and stress levels.
Have a Massage
Massage is an age-old practice that promotes relaxation and works wonders for reducing stress levels. It’s not just tensed up muscles that get loosened up either. Massage helps to raise levels of the feel-good hormones oxytocin and serotonin, and reduce stress cortisol levels at the same time.
Try a professional masseuse, or ask a friend or loved one to give you a massage at home using an Essential Oil such as calming Lavender. Have a midday stress-busting massage in a coin-operated Massage Chair in the nearest shopping center. Or buy a Self Massager you can carry around with you and use anywhere.
Go for a walk
If you can remove yourself from the situation that’s causing you to stress you will feel much calmer after a walk. It’s not just the fresh air and exercise you’ll benefit from. Being outside, watching the trees sway or the clouds roll gently by has been proven to reduce stress thanks to the fractal patterns that can be found in abundance in the natural world around us.
Fractals are our evolutionary comfort zone and looking at them is known to have an almost immediate calming effect.
If you can’t get outside for a walk, you can quickly reduce stress and calm yourself down with a few minutes of deep breathing. Breathing deeply from the diaphragm rather than the upper chest will slow your heart rate and signal to your brain that there is no need to kick into “fight or flight”, the body’s natural response to stress.
Deep breathing can also help strengthen your immune system by flooding your body with rich oxygen from deep in your lungs. If you can find a quiet place to meditate at the same time, you will soon feel your stress melting away.
Have a Snack
You don’t need to feel guilty about snacking, especially when you snack wisely for stress relief. Don’t turn to processed or junk food though. The right snack can lower your stress levels by releasing the feel-good hormone “Serotonin” into your system, so it makes sense to plan ahead and keep something healthy on hand.
High-carbohydrate content snacks like Cereal or Muesli Bars are ideal for keeping in your bag or your drawer at work. Bananas have the added benefit of being sweet and contain Potassium and Vitamin B6, which are known to fight stress. Walnuts are another fantastic stress buster thanks to the Omega 3 fatty acids and the serotonin-boosting tryptophan they contain.
It’s almost impossible to eradicate stress entirely from your life, but there’s no need just to accept the damage that stress can do to your body either.
But now you have five natural remedies you can use next time life or work throws a curve ball at you.
9 Herbs And Foods To Help Beat Stress
Nutrition is key when it comes to overall health. But did you know you can use food to help you beat stress? Certain nutrients are proven to help in the fight for a stress-free mind and body. In this article we’ll look at nine herbs, spices and food sources you should be eating as part of your daily stress management plan.
Including a handful of walnuts in your daily diet has been proven to help your body cope better in times of stress by lowering blood pressure. Considering it’s practically impossible to prevent stress totally it’s essential to give your body as much armour as possible to prevent stress harming your health. Walnuts also are also a good source of tryptophan, a precursor to the feel-good chemical serotonin, and the hormone melatonin which helps regulate sleep patterns.
As well as being rich in antioxidants, blueberries are an excellent source of Vitamin C which helps your body quickly get rid of the stress hormone cortisol. Vitamin C also fights stress by keeping blood pressure regulated whenever a stressful situation occurs. Add to yoghurt, porridge or have on their own as a super sweet mid-morning snack.
As well as tasting delicious, Avocados are truly a nutritional powerhouse containing healthy fat and 20 different vitamins and minerals. Sometimes referred to as Nature’s Butter, or Alligator Pear, avocados are rich in stress-busting B vitamins and potassium, which can help stabilize the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Include in salads, add to smoothies for a creamy texture, or spread on whole grain toast and top with a poached egg.
Turmeric is the golden yellow spice often found in Indian cooking. It has recently been hailed as a new superfood thanks to its all-round health benefits. According to Dr Lopesti of Murdoch University in Australia, not only is it antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, turmeric elevates neurotransmitters like serotonin, while at the same time reducing stress hormones such as cortisol. Add it to smoothies, milk and stews.
Salmon is a rich source of Omega 3 fat which is heart healthy as well as stress-busting thanks to the docosahexaenoic acid that helps to mitigate stress hormones. Omega 3 can also help reduce inflammation in the body caused by chronic stress, as well as assist with healthy blood flow in the brain and body.
As well as being a high-quality lean protein, Turkey is well known for making you feel sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner thanks to its high level of tryptophan. But new research shows that tryptophan could also have calming effects, helping to relieve stress, as well as helping you sleep better at night.
Black tea and green tea are chock full of polyphenols, a type anti-oxidant, so both are beneficial to your overall health. However, green tea contains slightly more the amino acid theanine which helps to relax you without affecting your mental focus. Research has shown that drinking tea lowers the levels of cortisol in your body, helping you destress more quickly.
Kale aka Arugula
Dark green leafy vegetables like kale are rich in Vitamin C, a known stress buster which helps regulate cortisol levels. Kale also contains beneficial anti-oxidants which research shows are needed to help your brain function at an optimal level to help guard against stress. Try adding kale to smoothies or gently roast the leaves for a crunchy snack.
You may be used to seeing coriander as a garnish on foods, but think about eating more of this powerful herb to help alleviate stress and soothe your nerves. Hydroalcoholic acid present in the herb not only has a calming effect but if you’re having trouble sleeping because of stress, eating more coriander can help.