My Top 5 Remedies for Stress Relief
Updated: Apr 29, 2018
Stress is pretty much unavoidable in today’s fast past world. A little stress here and there can actually have a beneficial effect on the body and keep us safe and free from danger, but ongoing chronic stress is a whole other story.
When our body perceives a threat, a complex set of chemical reactions occur. Your blood stream quickly becomes flooded with adrenaline and cortisol which allows you to have an almost instant supply of energy. This hormonal charge causes the heart rate to increase, pupils to dilate and an abundant source of glucose is liberated from the tissues so you can fight or flee from danger. It’s actually a pretty remarkable defense system but when your body is constantly signaled into a fight or flight state you will start to encounter problems.
Chronic ongoing stress taxes the body in a variety of ways. The adrenal glands, the body’s primary factory for stress hormones becomes overloaded and eventually depleted, people will begin to experience anxiety, a physiological response to stress, they lose sleep, experience lower immune function and maybe even gain weight due to long term elevated cortisol levels. Too much stress is not good for the body long term and it is definitely a signal that something is not working in your life.
Luckily there are many ways to reduce stress and give your body the peace and rest it so desperately deserves. Below is a list of my top 5 remedies for stress. Utilized alone they may be beneficial but when used together as part of a comprehensive plan for addressing stress, they can actually help to create definitive change.
My Top 5 Favorite Remedies For Stress
1. Do less. Yes easier said than done, I know. But if you want to reduce stress in your life, you need to first come to the realization that chronic tension and anxiety is actually a physiological signal from your body that you are overloaded. In our fast paced culture we are always trying to do too much. We work too much, we are over scheduled, we are always on the go and constantly stimulated by devices, screens and endless opportunities to interface with the internet. We spend too much time indoors, driving or multitasking and not enough time outside in nature and with our loved ones. No wonder we are all experiencing epic levels of ongoing stress.
As over whelming as it all may be, once you identify that it is happening, the next important step is to take a good long look at your schedule and current lifestyle. Is it all necessary? Of course many of the tasks on your agenda are necessary, but I dare you to compile a list of your daily activities, then mediate on which ones are absolute essentials. Do you need to look at your phone 25 times a day? Do you need to check in constantly with social media? Do you need to use television as your only means of blowing off steam at the end of a long, hard day? You may feel like you need these things, but the truth is that many of our over scheduled activities only drive our stress levels and eventually lead to states of anxiety and depression.
So as a solution, I challenge you to start with doing 1 thing less per day. Maybe start simple with something like your phone. Reduce the amount of time you spend on your phone by leaving it at home while at work or leaving it in the car when running errands. Opt not to receive email on your phone or remove social media apps, trust me, after a few day, you won’t miss it. Then slowly work your way up to limiting more scheduled tasks. Are you the type that has to do your dishes every morning before work? Do you have to get all the laundry done, folded and put away today, right now?
Although there are many tasks that are necessary in life, they are not always necessary all the time.
Learning how to do less per day, and feeling ok about it, is one way that you can work on reducing your total stress load. The key is to identify activities that have little actual value or potential for a higher level of harmony and get rid of those first. Doing so will create more time to do things that improve your life, more opportunity for peace and less opportunity for stress. The laundry will still be there tomorrow. Maybe it’s more important that you get those few bonus moments of snuggles with your kids today or receive that extra hour of sleep your body so greatly deserves.
2. Exercise, yes another answer you may not want to hear. When are we struggling with chronic stress our defense hormones go on overdrive. All that energy that is supposed to help you run from the proverbial lion needs to go somewhere and exercise is one great way to do this.
Regular exercise, aside from being great for your health and your waistline, is an excellent way to use up all that excess adrenaline. A solid work out will help your body become truly tired, naturally. You will feel a reduced level of tension, a more focused sense of being, and it will be easier for you to fall asleep.
Most of us who spend our days in an office do not have adequate opportunities or outlets to use up the excess stress hormones created in our bodies every day. I like to use the analogy of a dog stuck in a back yard. When they are pent up in a fenced yard, they will bark at absolutely everything! Take that same dog on a good walk, and they quickly change, moving their body forward as well as their mind. After they return home they are more relaxed and less anxious and this goes for us humans too.
Move your body forward and your mind will follow.
Regular exercise gets that stress out of your body, helps you feel a greater sense of relaxation and has the added bonus of significantly elevating your mood and improving your sleep. Shoot for 30-60 minutes of exercise at least 3 times per week to help reduce your stress response and relax your nervous system. Those with higher stress levels may benefit from daily exercise and movement.
3. Nervine Herbs. Nervines are a class of medicinal herbal plants that exhibit a relaxing effect on the central nervous system. They are an absolutely godsend in times of stress as they gently relax the physical body and the mind without being sedative. They also offer a lot of versatility in use, meaning they can be taken in the moment to reduce an individualized stress response or used several times daily ongoing, to constantly work on keeping the central nervous system in a calm state.
Some of my favorite nervine herbs include Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), Blue Vervain (Verbena hastate) Milky Oats (avena sativa), Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis), Motherwort (Leonurus cardiac) and Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla). Nervine herbs can be sipped individually or in a tea blend, taken as a tincture, consumed in a capsule or standardized extract.
I like to take nervine herbs in tincture form, that way I can carry them in my bag and use them any time I am feeling stressed or anxious. Herbal tinctures are extracted in alcohol, so they enter the blood stream rapidly and offer almost instantaneously results, an added bonus for those dealing with an acute stress response. A few droppersfull will gently take the edge off of your stress and when used regularly, will provide a deeper sense of relaxation.
4. Magnesium. Magnesium is a major mineral and my favorite nutrient for stress and anxiety. It’s probably the number one nutrient deficiency I see in my practice and low levels are associated with tension including muscle tension and cramps, elevated blood pressure, headaches, poor sleep, low energy production, PMS and altered blood sugar levels.
Most of the minerals we consume come from the soil and because the soil is so depleted in the United States, we have low levels of available minerals in food. Magnesium is found primarily in veggies, beans, nuts and whole grains. If you don’t regularly consume these foods in the right portions sizes for health, then you really are not getting enough magnesium.
Due to poor availability, I often recommend taking magnesium in supplement form to help with stress and anxiety, in addition to eating foods rich in magnesium. Most clients will tell me that they can feel a difference in their stress and tension levels in as little as a few days with magnesium supplementation.
There are many types of magnesium out there, some good and some poor quality. In general, when it comes to supplements you get what you pay for. Quality forms of magnesium are usually higher priced than low quality forms. Therapeutic dosages range from 200 mg to 500 mg and sometimes higher for those trying to target specific health issues such as migraines.
Too much magnesium can cause loose stools in some people, so start off with a lower dose and slowly work your way up. Magnesium oxide is a very common, inexpensive and poorly absorbed form of magnesium that is most often used for constipation, but not a good choice for those wanting a therapeutic benefits. Quality forms of magnesium include magnesium glycinate, magnesium malate and magnesium threonate.
5. B Complex Vitamins. The B complex vitamins play a crucial role when it comes to stress and the body. The B complex vitamins play a role a major role in energy production. B5, Pantotheic Acid, is involved in the production sex and stress-related hormones from the adrenal glands and B6, Pyridoxine, is essential to the nervous system and to the production of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin.
B vitamins are water soluble, meaning that the body does not retain them. If you are under ongoing chronic stress, then you have a high likelihood of B vitamin depletion. There are also many commonly consumed medications that deplete B vitamins including birth control pills, proton pump inhibitors, anti-depressants, some blood pressure medications and corticosteroids. Anyone regularly taking these medications should seriously consider supplementing with a quality B complex.
There are many forms of B vitamins out on the market, but unfortunately, not all of them are readily bioavailable. I recommend that my clients take activated B vitamins to ensure better absorption. As with all supplements, low cost supplements are often associated with low bioavailability. Purchase your B vitamins direct from a practitioner or high quality supplement pharmacy. If you prefer the health food store, you will need to specifically ask for activated B Vitamins, and beware, even the top quality health food store brands do not always come in activated form. Some of my favorite brands include Thorne Research, Seeking Health and Designs for Health.
Looking for a good source of high quality activated B Vitamins and magnesium?
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Interested in nervine herbs but don’t know where to start?
I regularly custom formulate hand blended, tincture formulas for customers and clients. We will discuss some of your primary health concerns and I will individually pick and blend the right herbs for you! It’s a personalized approach to medicine that has some amazing benefits. Contact me for a custom blend.