Stress is the plague of the new millennium. We blame everything on it from our health to our relationships to our poor performance at work. However stress is not always a bad thing, positive stress motivates us and spurs us into action. It also keeps us going when we don’t think we can make it through another day. The problems come in when we experience stress overload and the emotional and physical distress that accompanies it.
So what’s the solution? It’s time to get back into the driving seat and rebalance your life. You don’t necessarily need to spend all your hard-earned cash on stress relief and visits to your shrink, mother nature has a lot to offer the stressed and weary. Try some of these excellent natural remedies to boost your mood, de-stress and get your life back on the rails.
Try the top five de-stressing essential oils. All of the following essential oils will work to balance and soothe your body and mind. Mix a few undiluted drops with a carrier oil, such as almond, for a massage or add it to your bath water.
1. Lavender – balancing, soothing and normalizing
2. Geranium – relaxing and uplifting
3. Neroli – soothing and regenerating
4. Chamomile – acts as a sedative and boosts the immune system
5. Ylang-ylang – calming, also an aphrodisiac
Adding these essential oils to the bath will take a load off your mind. But make sure that you follow the following guidelines so that you get the full benefit of the essential oils:
* Follow the instructions on the bottle carefully and only add the recommended number of drops.
* The bath must be hot, but not scalding or else the oils will evaporate before you’ve even hopped in.
* Stay in the bath for about 20 minutes. If you stay in for less, the essential oils might not have time to take effect; if you stay in for longer, you’ll just feel lethargic.
* While you’re in the bath, focus on ensuring that your breath is deep and regular. Inhale from the diaphragm, hold for a few seconds and exhale slowly.
2. Exercise that stress away
Most exercise has calming benefits, but you don’t have to hit the treadmill for hours, or take a high-impact aerobics class to pound and punch out your stress. Why not try one or more of these three gentle natural therapies that offer a complete mind-body workout and long-lasting stress-reducing results?
The aim of this 8000-year-old exercise system is to harmonise the body and mind through meditation and slow, graceful movements. Tai Chi is based on the Taoist philosophy of yin (cool, dark, negative energy) and yang (hot, light, positive energy) two polar types of energy that are believed to exist in everything in the universe. The goal of Tai Chi is to balance these energies. In so doing, the natural balance of the body and mind is restored and stress is reduced.
By focusing on the controlled movements, your mind is distracted from whatever tension or stress you may be experiencing. Tai chi is great for stress-related disorders like headaches and stomach ulcers and is even used by cancer patients in China.
This therapy was developed 100 years ago by an Australian actor
By improving one’s posture, the
Both Tai Chi and
Build your therapy into your normal exercise regime, by alternating with resistance work and two or three aerobic sessions per week.
The intrinsic benefits of touch through the medium of massage, has long been recognized. It is the oldest and simplest of all complementary therapies and in traditional cultures it is accepted as a natural part of self-care. A good massage can dissipate nervous energy and release feel-good endorphins into the body. These endorphins are like natural painkillers and help ease aching, tired muscles.
If you have a willing partner, spend one evening a week massaging each other with special massage oils. If you’re not sure, what you are doing, read one of the many books on massage or enrol in a course. Or you could try the following self-massage techniques:
Neck and shoulders
First, lie on your side on the bed or on the floor, and using slow, circular movements, massage the side and back of your neck. Then move onto your shoulders and as much of your upper back that you can reach. Now, turn over and repeat the massage on the other side.
Sit up straight. Staring at the bottom of your back, position the fingers of both hands on either side of the spine. Gently “walk” your fingers up your back as far as you can go, and back down again.
Lie on your back on the bed and start stroking your forehead with both hands, moving from the middle and out towards the ears. Repeat this movement as you slowly move down your face towards your chin, then gently massage around your eye sockets. Finish off with a mini-Indian head massage by briskly rubbing your scalp for five minutes.
What to take
Consult your doctor or a professional herbal practitioner before using any of the herbs mentioned in the following section, especially if you are pregnant, suffer from a chronic disease or are on other medication.
1. De-stress the herbal way
Is stress getting you down? Do you feel like you are not coping? Take action. Try the top five de-stressing herbal supplements.
1. Kava kava – relaxes you, just like a couple of glasses of wine, but without the side effects. It will also give you a positive sense of wellbeing.
2. Ginseng – if you take this herb over a period of time, your body’s ability to cope with stress will increase.
3. Passionflower – if your stress is causing insomnia, anxiety or nervousness, this is the herb for you. Many over-the-counter sedatives contain Passionflower.
4. Skullcap – for mental and physical exhaustion. It relaxes the muscles and nerves.
5. Vervain – a very useful herb if you are suffering form a stress-induced virus (like the flu). Also a natural anti-depressant.
If you are under constant stress, take the above herbs in tablet or tincture form for at least four weeks.