Managing Stress the Holistic Way
Stress is a fact of life. The only way to escape it is through death. Therefore, managing stress is the key to minimize it's negative impact on our life. Stress keeps our systems working as they should, but it becomes harmful when it lasts too long and is not managed effectively.
With stress management, you can control the elements in your life that cause anxiety and a myriad of other stress-related medical conditions. One way to do this is to alter the manner in which you react to parts of your life that you can't change. Another way is to reduce or minimize the things that cause your anxiety.
Finding a method for managing stress that works for you might not be as simple as you expect because everyone reacts to stress differently. They also don't respond in the same manner to different methods that manage stress that are available. Consequently, everyone doesn't see the same benefits. The solution is to try different stress management methods for until you find one that works for you and your particular situation.
Where stress related health conditions exist, however, it's essential to seek the support and advice of your holistic health care provider in developing a suitable solution.
Keep a Stress Journal
The first step to managing stress is to find out what causes the stress. You can do this by keeping a stress journal where you'll record everything that triggers stress, anger or a physical reaction such as a stomach upset or a headache. Note the time, the incident that caused the stress, and any situation that caused a stress reaction. This will help you to identify exactly what things in your life are causing you stress so that you can work on developing ways of coping with them.
As you go through your stress journal, you might be surprised to discover what types of things cause you stress. The key is to decide whether those stress triggers need to be in your life or whether you can live without them or at least find a better way of dealing with them.
For instance, if you come home from work to a household of undone chores, you might want to ask your other family members to help out so that you share the responsibilities.
You might need to take a closer look at your job if you see that it is creating you unnecessary stress. You'll want to examine what things are causing your work-related stress, whether it's your boss, an increase in responsibilities or co-workers. See if there are changes that can be made to help you in managing stress. If not, you might need to consider seeking alternate employment.
Regardless of your situation, there are many effective techniques for managing stress.
Talk it Out
You can talk about it with someone you trust. This alone will help you to release the anger, stress and anxiety that can build up over time if they are not resolved. This will help prevent you from releasing your feelings in an ineffective and unacceptable way, such as snapping at your children or being argumentative and short with your spouse and becoming more aggressive generally.
Gratitude and Humor
Relaxation techniques are extremely powerful in managing stress. Learn a few simple meditation techniques and deep breathing techniques to reduce your heart rate and brain waves. In Meditating for Health I teach you some very simple, quick and easy techniques to find relaxation in minutes. Take a yoga class or get a massage to bring temporary relief. If your stress persists, seek your holistic doctor's advice for other ways for managing stress.
An immediate method for managing stress is to close your eyes, even if it's the middle of the afternoon, and take several deep breaths. This will slow your brain waves and relax your entire body, providing quick relief to carry you through the day.
Getting regular exercise on a daily basis is another very effective method of relieving and managing stress. A good brisk walk and you'll instantly begin to feel better. Not only that you'll boost your immune system, neurotransmitters and metabolism, which will also aid in the reduction of stress as well as improve your emotional and physical health.
Take time to Rest
The most overlooked method of reducing the stress in your life is to take time to rest. Don't over commit yourself and run yourself into the ground. Make time for you. Watch a movie, lounge around on the couch or lawn chair, listen to music or take a long hot bath.
Spend time with Nature
Spending time with nature will also provide you with much needed relief from stress. Nature's stress relieving capabilities are inherent without any other steps needed other than communing. Sit on your porch, lay on a blanket in your back yard, lake or beach, take a walk, hike in the forest, take a country ride, feed the birds, listen to the birds sing, watch the clouds roll by, listen to the raindrops, etc. If getting back to nature isn't always possible, just open your window to listen and feel the breeze.
Herbs for Managing Stress
It's not always possible to eliminate all of your stressors, but you can also use natural herbs for stress relief. Herbs can be taken in capsule form or as a tea to release the benefits of phytonutrients that are in the herbs. The hot liquid alone can have a dramatic calming effect.
One herb that has been used for centuries for its calming influence is the passionflower. It helps to reduce anxiety and insomnia which are often symptoms of stress.
There is factual evidence that passionflower is effective in treating anxiety. In fact, in a test of 198 people suffering with anxiety, the two studies revealed that passionflower was more effective than benzodiazepines, a class of drugs that suppress the central nervous system to bring relief from anxiety.
The studies also revealed that the people who took passionflower experienced less drowsiness than those who took drugs, although a few people did experience side effects including increased heart, nausea, throwing up and sleepiness.
Another herb for managing stress and soothing the nervous system is valerian. Usually taken an hour before bed time, this is another herb that has been around for centuries to aid sleep in people with insomnia. Valerian can be found in capsule, as a liquid extract and as a tea, but because of its pungent smell, most people prefer to take it in capsule form.
The only catch with taking valerian for relief is that the effects are not instant, and can take up to three weeks to show results. Herbalists do not recommend using valerian for longer than three consecutive months as it can have side effects including mild indigestion, headaches and dizziness.
My experience with Valerian was that it worked great for a couple weeks and then after a while it was no longer effective. It seemed my body developed a tolerance to it. So I would recommend that it be used for short periods of time.
One of the most common and familiar herbs for managing stress is chamomile. The ancient Egyptians relied on this herb for its calming effects and to relieve anxiety. Chamomile tea not only relaxes, it also is an excellent remedy for gastrointestinal disorders. Chamomile is sometimes used for menstrual cramps, too.
The light apple-flavor of chamomile tea makes this an herb worth trying. It's readily available in both health food stores and traditional grocery stores.
There are many healthy ways to deal with stress and reduce the undesirable effects it may have on our health. It does however take a willingness and commitment to make lifestyle changes. These are just some of the natural, drug-free alternatives for managing stress.