Do you feel tired, anxious, and can’t seem to lose weight? Do you suffer from heart palpitations, constipation, or low blood sugar? Chances are you could be experiencing the side effects of chronic stress…
Countless people are under greater pressure today than any other time in history because of all the demands life foists upon them. No wonder so many people are cracking under the pressure of these demands!
Have you ever been suddenly frightened? If you have, you know what it feels like to have adrenaline surge through your body. The release of adrenalin is a survival mechanism that allows a “fight or flight” response to a threat. Unfortunately due to chronic stress and the abuse of stimulants such as coffee, energy drinks and certain recreational drugs many people are constantly living in a state of stress.
Stress is sometimes caused not just from the strains of everyday living, but also from emotional events that have taken place in people’s lives. These can include loss, separation, abuse, shock, and a number of other factors. These emotional catalysts can then lead to a feeling of detachment, troubles concentrating, fatigue and memory problems.
So what can we do to help ourselves? Many of the treatments that can help to reduce stress in our lives come down to self-nurturing.
Stress Free Daily Practices
It is important to manage your daytime stress in order to keep yourself feeling calm and happy.
- Go to your health shop and try a herbal supplement that can reduce anxiety and stress. Consider herbs such as St John’s Wort, Passionflower, Lemon Balm, or Withania. If you are taking medications it will be important to have the health assistant check for any herb/drug interactions. St John’s wort is able to increase serotonin, dopamine, noradrenalin and GABA levels within the body within a maximum of three weeks (Braun & Cohen, 2010, p. 814). Serotonin is the feel good neurotransmitter that is commonly prescribed in many antidepressant medications.
- Rescue Remedy flower essences are another therapy tool that can be easily carried in the handbag or in your car and utilized in times of acute stress. They have no interactions with medications and are very safe.
- Consider learning meditation or mindfulness practices. Research indicates that a minimum of 12 minutes daily is necessary for the brain to enter the deepest levels of relaxation and to keep attention stable through the day (Hurley, 2014). A number of different brain imaging studies have shown that regular daily practice of mindfulness meditation, for as little as eight weeks, can decrease the density of connections and shrink the part of the brain responsible for our “fight or flight” response, also known as the amygdala (MacDonald, 2016).
Bed Time Routines
Implement a bedtime routine, because when we sleep deeply we wake feeling better rested and calmer. Allow yourself 15 minutes in your bedroom before you sleep to follow this suggested routine.
- Using an oil burner put in a few drops of lavender to infuse the air with its relaxing and sedative properties; if you don’t have a burner then simply put a couple of drops of lavender essential oil on your temples or on either side of your pillow.
- A hand or foot massage from yourself or a loved one using a massage oil is an excellent way to ensure a good deep sleep. Use soothing long strokes, which are firm and yet gentle, and spend time on areas that feel good.
- Drink a cup of relaxing herb tea around 30 minutes before bed. Many companies use names such as Bedtime Tea to give you an idea of how they work.
So next time you find yourself feeling stressed out and anxious, and are driving like a maniac to pick up the kids from school – because your late yet again, or feeling disgruntled at the end of your day – because you’ve not done enough of the things that needed to be done, perhaps consider what self-nurturing tip can I use to ensure I’m the happiest and most relaxed person that I can be?
This article was written by Nicola Swanson – Programme Leader Level 5.
Braun, L., & Cohen, M. (2007). Herbs & Natural Supplements: An evidence based guide. Sydney, Australia: Churchill Livingstone.
Hurley, D. (2014). Breathing in vs Spacing Out. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/19/magazine/breathing-in-vs-spacing-out.html?_r=1
MacDonald, K. (2016). What’s so Great about Mindfulness? Retrieved from http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=11599315