Stress is a tricky thing. It seems to arise at the worst possible time, compromising productivity and undermining self-worth in the process. It can then disappear for hours, days, even weeks at a time, before reappearing and leaving a similarly destructive wake.
Stress is hardly a new issue, but it has gained increased attention in recent years due to increased studies and attention drawn toward the mental health sector. With that influx of attention has come an entire wave of “stress-relieving” products, miracle drugs, celebrity-endorsed creams, etc.
Ultimately, most of these lotions or pills are little more than empty promises. No matter how many new stress-relief “cures” roll off the shelves, there’s little that can compare to the proven ingredients that have helped to relieve stress since day one. Natural remedies for stress have long been used to help curb stress symptoms in a way that few chemically-created remedies can replicate.
Specifically, a number of cornerstone vitamins, minerals, oils and natural ingredients help turn the tides in your fight against stress. And we’re going to outline the best options among that list, to ultimately help replace your stress with peace of mind.
Before we get to that list of proven stress-relieving natural ingredients, one note: this by no means a replacement for prescribed stress or anxiety medication. As licensed medical professionals, we understand how important medication can be when it comes to addressing symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression or any other mental or behavioral health struggles. We’re only offering supplementary ingredients with elements proven to give your fight against stress the boost it needs.
In addition, we are not advocating that any of the following vitamins, minerals or natural ingredients be taken without first consulting licensed health professionals. We’re only steering you in the right direction when it comes to items that we know can help you target stress without resorting to artificial products.
Vitamins to help put your stress in its place
The term “vitamin” is thrown around health circles with little regard for its actual meaning. When we use the term “vitamin,” we aren’t referring to every pill or dissolving tablet that hits pharmacy shelves. Instead, we’re referring specifically to an organic compound that our bodies cannot make on their own. These compounds are sourced from the foods we consume and the beverages we drink, and are essential in promoting healthy, well-balanced lives. Below, we’ve outlined 3 pivotal vitamins that target stress like none other.
One of 20 amino acids, glycine helps your body to create and manage proteins. Though technically considered “non-essential” – meaning your body can create glycine without sourcing it all from your diet – glycine vitamins help your body perform probably the most essential function when it comes to warding off stress: sleep.
Glycine helps the body to reach and maintain healthy sleep levels, often for the full duration of the night into the morning. It helps to calm the mind and put the body in the necessary relaxed state for sleep to take over. In addition, glycine helps to lower your core body temperature, another factor that contributes to a restful night’s sleep.
Often sourced from plants native to the South Pacific Islands, Kava’s stress-relieving elements were first discovered when natives began mixing the plant into their ceremonial beverages. Soon after, Kava was regularly trusted as a reliable stress-relieving item in itself, because of its “kavalactones,” stress-reducing compounds that actually promote a calming sensation when they slow the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid.
Like glycine, L-theanine is another amino acid, similar to glycine in the fact that it is also considered non-essential. However, L-theanine has an important role to play when it comes to addressing stress: it helps promote a relaxational state, muting stress levels and helping the body to unwind no matter the time of day. Unsurprisingly, L-theanine is found in tea leaves, and drinking tea is one activity widely regarded as stress-relieving in itself. One study even found that L-theanine successfully helped to lower patients’ heart rates, further relieving stress and promoting relaxation.
Minerals that help kick your stress
Especially in recent years, minerals have found their way into a wide variety of foods, beverages and health-related supplements. From mineral water to mineral capsules to mineral eye drops, the word in itself has become a buzzword synonymous with natural healing. Though “mineral” itself has lost some of its intrinsic value given its newfound popularity, true minerals can still help turn the tide in your ongoing fight with stress. We’ve broken down two of the most powerful stress-reducing minerals below.
One of the absolute best minerals available to help you combat stress, magnesium helps regulate your body’s automatic response to rising stress levels. In fact, magnesium is so helpful that it’s a supplement often prescribed to help individuals address both anxiety and depression. Fortunately, you can likely source required magnesium levels from regular dietary items, including green vegetables, nuts and certain dairy items.
Another dynamite mineral when it comes to regulating stress levels in the body, calcium can also help you fight fatigue and anxiety. As a result, calcium supplements and calcium-rich foods alike are popular among individuals who regularly experience not only stress-related symptoms, but other closely-related byproducts. Fortunately, calcium is found in a wide variety of food items even if you’re not seeking out supplement tablets. These foods include cheese, bread, spinach, oranges and some fish.
Natural ingredients that help fight your stress
Whether they’re spices, seeds or seasonings, there are so many natural ingredients that offer the added benefit of stress reduction. Look to prioritize these simple elements in your meals, with the confidence that you’re creating delicious meals that can also help you decrease daily stress levels. We’ve outlined some of our favorite stress-beating natural ingredients below.
1. Lemon balm
Lemon balm is widely recognized as a stress-reducing agent, safe for most people to consume. Some parents even use lemon balm to calm teething infants. A simple ingredient you can usually find at your nearest health foods store, lemon balm goes well in most teas, as well as most baked goods. In addition, you can add lemon balm straight into your water, for a burst of flavor and stress reduction alike.
You’re likely already familiar with chamomile, for a good reason: it’s one of the ingredients in one of the most popular teas in the world. It’s worth noting that chamomile as a natural ingredient can help you soothe nerves, relax the body, steady the heart rate and promote healthy, full-term sleep. Obviously, tea is the most common method by which individuals consume chamomile, but you can also stir it into a latte, bake it into a macaron or even integrate it into a batch of homemade popsicles.
A long-used ingredient not only for stress, but also for menstrual cramping, healthy sleep and skin health, lavender has earned its reputation as one of the primary herbs for health and wellness. A cornerstone of aromatherapy, lavender is most commonly consumed in essential oil form, distributed into the air through a diffuser. Most individuals who use lavender to specifically address their stress levels will boil only 2 to 4 drops of lavender into 2 to 3 cups of water, directly inhaling the vapors once the water heats. You can also massage lavender oil into your skin for similar stress-reducing benefits, or bake it into lemon bars or cakes.
Stress-relieving ingredients everywhere you turn
Whether it’s lemon balm in a tea, magnesium in a fresh salad or glycine in pill form, there are so many ways that we can source stress-relieving ingredients from the foods we eat and the beverages we regularly drink. In fact, the only thing that stands between you and all of the benefits discussed above is the discipline to prepare each dish! Choose even 1 or 2 of the above vitamins, minerals or natural ingredients – which you can likely integrate into the meals you were already going to prepare this week – and you’ll be well on your way to living a stress-free life, on a day-to-day basis.