April is stress awareness month and while I’ve written before about what stress is and how it manifests, we haven’t looked at the holistic way of managing it naturally…

But first, a quick refresher of how to spot stress, as it shows differently in each person, and you may not even realise your feelings are stress related.

Now, let’s look at some of the tactics we can employ to try and manage stress naturally…

Physical activity

Hard and fast physical exercise can have the opposite effect of calming, and actually encourage the stress hormones. If you are experiencing stress, I would recommend you take it down a level or two and take long brisk walks, heavy weight-based sessions or of course, yoga and Pilates instead of the high-intensity stuff.

However, if you love a good thrashing and find it calms your mind, keep at it, but maybe drop back to one session a week.

Balanced diet

The same advice you’ll get anywhere about anything… Start with the vegetables, then add in protein, followed by healthy unsaturated fats. Avoid processed foods, refined sugars and alcohol, and your diet will be perfect – easier said than done right?!

Once again, a bit of self-indulgence is good for stress relief, but maybe watch the portion sizes and try not to binge. A little of something we love is good for the soul…


There can be some benefit to adding a supplement to aid stress and anxiety. If you look at somewhere like Holland & Barrett you’ll get a huge list including Passion Flower, Rhodiola and Ashwagandha, which appear to be the most popular ones. I like to drink teas that contain chamomile, peppermint and my favourite at the moment, lemon, ginger and turmeric for anti-inflammatory properties. It might be a good idea to ask someone who knows more than me about supplements, but they could be a good option for you.


Other people can be a massive stressor! But the right people at the right time can be marvellous for stress relief. If you’re using long walks as stress relief, invite a good friend along, if you’re ready for a bit of self-indulgence organise some time when you can let your hair down with friends.

If you work from home or in relative isolation, can you get out for a bit of networking or arrange a business 1-2-1? Socialising doesn’t have to focus on out of hours, it’s important that work provides it too.

Are friends great, but not enough? Perhaps you’d like to talk to a professional, or try a meditation or sleep app. Maybe a massage would help to relieve some of those physical knots that are bringing you down? I’ve listed some sites that may be of use at the end of this blog.

Screen time

The blue light behind mobile phones and iPad screens stimulate the hormones that make your brain believe it’s time to be alert and decreases the melatonin levels that promote and regulate our sleep cycles.

Other than that, what are you looking at? Back in lockdown the phrase ‘doomscrolling’ came into popular use and referred to our apparent need to read about the anxiety openly shared by many on social media, and the desperation and sadness within news headlines. You don’t need this kind of content when you’re stressed.

Try to avoid screen use at least an hour before bed, and that includes one last check for ‘likes’!

Self-reflection and self-care

How self-aware are you? I know only too well that it is easy to stop listening to those subtle signals your body sends out and override them to keep pushing through. Maybe it’s a bit of knee pain or digestive discomfort, perhaps it’s yawning at 3pm every day, or it could be getting used to that headache every morning after a few night-caps…

Try to take a moment to recognise the things that are happening to you every day, notice how they make you feel. We do this in yoga as we prepare for our practice, noticing any niggles or distracting thoughts and brushing them aside to deal with later.

It’s now time to find that ‘later’ time for self-care; journal about your thoughts, note the small wins that day, don’t allow one negative occurrence to become the focus of the whole day. Practice mindfulness, change your focal length by looking out the window, take a short lunchtime walk to top up on Vitamin D, stretch, listen to music, read a book…

As the saying goes, fill your cup first, so you can better serve and share with others.

These links may help you further:

Headspace App    Sleepyhead Program    Oxfordshire Mind    Crisis Text Line    Carterton Counselling Directory    Ad Astra Yoga Classes