I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this year has been challenging for all of us. Many of us have struggled with increased stress, anxiety, and emotional fatigue due to COVID-19, the upcoming election, civil unrest, and economic difficulty. While this year has not been easy, it has taught us a few things. We are learning how to depend on God for real instead of just saying we are. We are learning to show up for our friends and neighbors. Finally, we are learning the importance of pursuing and cultivating rest in our lives.
At the date of this article, we are a little more than half way through the year and we don’t know whether things will change for the better or for the worse. However, regardless of what happens, I believe we will be okay.
That being said, I know many of us are dealing with stress and anxiety. Instead of just leaving you with encouragement, I want to give you some practical ways to reduce stress and anxiety and stay grounded during difficult moments or seasons in your life.
Disclaimer: This article was sponsored by Zambeezi Organics. However, all opinions are my own.
Zambeezi Organic Soap
Before we dive in, I want to let you know that this article was sponsored by Zambeezi, an organic fair-trade brand working with artisans in Zambia to bring the highest quality skin and body products to you. I’ve had the privilege of trying their brand new soap collection and I loved it.
Fair trade & created by artisans in Zambia
I mentioned that Zambeezi is fair trade and they work with artisans in Zambia. What does this mean?
One of their goals is to reduce the gap between the wages African farmers receive for their ingredients and the high profit of businesses in Western countries. The farmers who make Zambeezi’s ingredients and products receive a fair and living wage for their work.
Not only that, Zambeezi also uses a part of its profits to benefit African communities. They partner with local churches to build schools, clinics, drill wells, and take on other projects to benefit local communities.
This is amazing. When you pay $6 for a bar of soap, you’re not only getting an amazing product, you’re also supporting local communities in Zambia.
What are Zambeezi Soaps made from?
Like their lip balms, Zambeezi soaps are made from organic beeswax. The soaps also include sunflower oil and palm kernel oil. The sunflower oil and beeswax are great for keeping your skin soft and the palm kernel oil is great for creating an amazing lather. Each soap scent includes locally sourced essential oils. Here is a list of the soaps they offer:
Soap scents offered
- Sweet Basil
- Limited release: clove
I’ll share more about Zambeezi and how their products can help you unwind after dealing with everyday stress and anxiety later in this article. First, let’s talk about stress and how it affects our mental health.
How too much stress affects your physical and mental health
Before we get into the ways to reduce your daily stress and anxiety, let’s talk about how stress can affect our physical and mental health. Stress is a good thing but too much of it is a problem. Your body is supposed to alert you of anything going wrong in your environment. Stress puts you on high alert so that you can survive potential dangers. However, it’s never good for our bodies to remain on high alert for long periods of time.
As a result, chronic stress can disturb your immune, digestive, cardiovascular, sleep, and reproductive systems. Over time, too much stress can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, or even chronic depression or anxiety disorder.
Some common effects of stress include:
- Muscle tension or pain
- Upset stomach
- Lack of focus
- Over or undereating
- Drug abuse
- Social withdrawal
Can stress affect our relationship with God?
Sometimes stress can affect our relationship with God. When we’re overly stressed or anxious, it’s hard to spend time in God’s presence. We notice that we’re easily distracted, it’s hard to retain what we’re reading in the Bible, and often, we don’t want to come into God’s presence. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why God gave us the Sabbath. He wants us to come and he promises to relieve us of the yoke that burdens our hearts.
A couple months ago, someone shared a prophetic word of encouragement with me that I really needed to hear. In short, she said that God is jealous for me and wants more of my time. At first, I didn’t understand what she meant. I spent every morning in prayer and the Word. But, after thinking about it more, I realized that while I was physically present, my heart wasn’t always there. I was carrying heavy weights that prevented me from really fellowshipping with God.
She also said something else that stood out to me. She sent me a drawing of me drinking tea and taking a relaxing bath. That was God’s heart for me. He doesn’t want me to merely check off to do lists, he wants me to genuinely come and enjoy his presence. I’m thankful that we can lay down stressful burdens at Jesus’ feet.
4 Practical Tips for Reducing Everyday Stress & Anxiety
Let’s talk about four really practical things you can do to help reduce everyday stress and anxiety. Of course, I am not a doctor so these are just suggestions that you can practice along with your doctor’s recommendations.
Put your phone away
Make a regular practice of unplugging from your phone and social media. A recent study has shown that high amounts of screen time are associated with high levels of anxiety and depression. Researchers believe that because of the nature of social media, social comparisons are very likely. Comparing ourselves to others can often increase our stress and anxiety. We begin to think about what we’re missing out on, who is better looking than us, the latest catastrophic news, and it’s overwhelming. We were never meant to take in all of that information at once.
I know it’s a challenge but as much as you can, please limit your screen time. I personally try to take one day out of the week to be offline. If you have an Iphone, you can also set limits on how much time you spend on your phone. Your social media apps will all turn off after a certain amount of time spent in use.
Go for a quiet walk in nature
Next, when you feel overly stressed or anxious, try going for a quiet solitary walk. Exercise releases important anxiety reducing chemicals into our brain. These include serotonin, gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
Walking in nature is also great because it exposes us to the beauty of God’s creation. We feel a sense of awe, and instead of focusing on our stressors, we begin thinking of the beauty in front of us.
I personally have constant racing thoughts most of the time. It can get really overwhelming. But, when I take a walk, my mind quiets down a bit and I’m able to focus on what’s important.
Brew a cup of tea
Tea is probably the best kept secret for reducing stress and anxiety. Tea is high in L-theanine, an amino acid proven to promote feelings of calm and relaxation. Besides L-theanine, many herbal teas contain calming ingredients as well. A few are chamomile, Valerian, Lavender, Peppermint, Fennel, Holy Basil, and Rose.
I highly recommend keeping some tea on hand to drink in moments when you feel anxious.
Take a relaxing bath
Next, try taking a relaxing bath to reduce your stress and anxiety. Studies actually show that bathing has many mental health benefits. A German study found that participants with depression reported a boost in their mood after soaking in a bath for thirty minutes.
Zambeezi has a line of herbal soaps that smell amazing and are perfect for a relaxing bath. I would personally suggest using their Lavender or Spearmint soap in your relaxing bath. Lavender is naturally calming and spearmint can help reduce stress.
Instead of your phone, bring your favorite book and read during your relaxing bath. While you’re at it, brew your favorite cup of tea. Take time to simply sit, relax, and enjoy the moment.
I hope these tips were helpful for you. If you are feeling stressed or anxious, please consider trying one or more of these. If you are interested in trying Zambeezi soaps, you can get them here.
What are some of the things you do to reduce stress and anxiety in your life?
This article is not meant to replace medical advice from your doctor. Follow the treatment they prescribe in addition to what I share in this article. Remember that God also heals through doctors, medicine and treatment.