5 Surprising Natural Ways to Relieve Stress and Tension


In cartoon characters, stress is visible. Stress, like thermometer fluid, risis up from their feet. As the stress fills them, their little cartoon bodies go stiff and start to shake with rage, and the moment it reaches their ears it starts escaping as steam and you know some rascally rabbit is about to get what’s coming to him. It’s funny because it’s familiar. Next time you feel that stress rising in your body, try something unusual to settle it back down. Charlotte Watts, author of The De-Stress Effect: Rebalance Your Body’s Systems for Vibrant Health and Happiness, recommended these surprising methods. 

Hum A Few Bars

People tend to associate humming with feelings of happiness and relaxation. We hum when we are at peace, but can we induce peace by humming? According to Watts, the combination of vocalization and vibration has a positive effect on blood pressure, helping to lower it from stress-induced spikes. Chanting has long been a calming practice among Hindus and Buddhists and may be related to the same physiology. 

Head for Warm Water

We all know that a deep soaking tub or jacuzzi can melt stress away, but Watts contends that sinking ay part of your body into warm water engages the parasympathetic nervous system and helps calm you. Excuse yourself in the middle of a stressful event and wash your hands in warm water to give yourself a bit of space and regain your composure. Try using very warm water and splashing it over your forearms as well. Might was well hum a little tune while you’re standing at the sink for good measure.

Munch on Celery

Studies say that chewing helps lower cortisol levels associated with stress. The research was done on gum, but still may explain why we instinctively reach for chips or ice cream when we’re feeling upset. Watts suggested going a step further than gum and reaching for celery instead. Not only is celery a healthier alternative than a brownie fudge sundae, but it also contains a calming chemical called apigenin, which is why it’s a traditional folk medicine for anxiety and insomnia. 

Take Your Shoes Off

Wearing shoes constricts circulation and adds to body tension — that’s why the moment we remove our shoes we immediately tend to feel relaxed. You may not be able to go barefoot at work, but even slipping your feet out of your shoes for a few minutes and wiggling your toes might help you clear your head. You might even want to keep a nice-smelling foot lotion or massage bar in your desk drawer so you can take mini-breaks and give your feet a gentle rubdown whenever you need to center yourself. 


The current trend of adults enjoying coloring books may be related to stress. According to Watts, doodling lets you switch modes between your logical thought process and your reflective mind, giving you time and space to slow down and get a fresh perspective. Pulling out a box of crayons at the office might not suit your professional image, but you can keep a doodle pad on your desk and give yourself a moment to create a little something when your brain needs a breather. Don’t know what to draw? Try to remember what you liked to doodle when you were in school and let things flow from there. 

Learn to recognize when your body is starting to fill up with stress and find a way to release that stress before the steam comes out of your ears. And if you step into your boss’s office and find her with her shoes off, humming, doodling, and nibbling on celery, you might want to back away slowly.