3 Tricks To Kick Stress To The Curb
Written By: Jennifer Barrows
You’re just going about your usual business. You may even be sound asleep, but suddenly a feeling of great terror comes over you. You feel your heart beating fast and a band is tightening around your head. It’s hard to think straight and you feel like you want to run away. It’s hard to breathe and you think you are having a heart attack, or just going crazy!
Maybe it’s not so dramatic, but you have an overwhelming, nagging feeling of worry, which is making you feel stressed out and anxious! You fret about money, work, the kids, the ten thousand things you need to get done before you go to bed.
I get it, I’ve been there! And I’m here to help!
Before you turn to medications, try these 3 simple tricks the next time you’re feeling anxious, worried or stressed. They definitely help me and I hope they will help you too.
1. De-Stress and AnxieTEA
Nothing is more relaxing than a hot cup of tea. Wrapping your hand around the cup, feeling the warm liquid go down and the cozy feeling of warmth are so calming. But did you know that many of the herbs in your tea actually work to calm your nervous system?
Chamomile, a popular choice for tea lovers, contains volatile oils, flavonoids and other therapeutic compounds. It has been used for centuries as a medicinal plant to treat ailments ranging from stomachaches to mouth sores and itching. It is probably best known for its calming and relaxing properties. The benefits of the plant come from its flower, which resemble daisies.
To make fresh chamomile tea, put the clean flowers into a mug and pour hot water over them. Cover the mug with a saucer and let the flowers steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure the liquid is cool enough to drink before you take it. You can sweeten the tea with a little bit of raw honey, which has been shown to have its own anti-anxiety properties.
Other herbs that can be made into teas for stress and anxiety include: kava kava, passionflower, valerian, peppermint and lemon balm. You can also find many options in pre-made tea bags at the market.
2. Yoga Nidra
Exercise has been shown to have huge mental as well as physical benefits and can be used to keep stress and anxiety at bay. When you get your sweat on, your brain creates endorphins, which are feel-good chemicals that work like natural pain killers. Exercise also helps you sleep better, bonus! Working out not only strengthens your physical body, but is great for your brain and mood too.
Yoga is a great stress reducer. The postures strengthen your body, while the breathing practices work to calm your mind. Perhaps the most relaxing part of taking a yoga class is the relaxation period at the end of class. How many people get to take a full five to ten minutes to just lie down, relax and breathe?
If you don’t have time for a full yoga class, try the final relaxation, also known as yoga nidra, to help you fall asleep at night. Since it is practiced lying down, you can do it right in your bed and float gently into a restful night’s sleep.
- Lie down on your back in a comfortable spot and use pillows, or rolled up blankets to support your back, or any other part that feels stiff.
- Pay attention to your breath. Notice how you are breathing without trying to change or correct it.
- Notice your feelings. Again, don’t try to change them or judge them. Accept them as they come.
- Become aware of your body. How does it feel? Are you cold, warm, sore, stiff? Notice the weight of your limbs and just let them sink into relaxation.
- As you relax, allow your breathing to deepen. If you feel tension in any part of your body, imagine sending the breath as a healing light right to that spot and let it relax.
- When you are finished, if you are in bed, you can just drift into your sleep for the night. If you are practicing during the day for relaxation, begin to wiggle your fingers and toes and slowly bring yourself back to a waking state. Turn your head gently from side to side and just take your time coming to a seated position. Give yourself a minute or two before you get up and move on with your day and thank yourself and your body for allowing you the space to simply be with your practice.
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to treat different ailments of the body and mind. Essential oils come from plants, flowers, roots and bark and have been used for centuries to promote a variety of health benefits. There are different ways to use essential oils, but perhaps the most powerful way to use them is through aromatherapy. Scents have strong ties to emotions and associations. The smell of fresh baked cookies can bring up strong childhood memories and feelings. There is a phenomenon known as sense memory and is often triggered by the sense of smell. Using the essential oils from different plants can work to ease stress and anxiety. A great blend of oils to reduce anxiety can include sandalwood, lavender, jasmine, neroli, rose, patchouli, chamomile and bergamot.
There are different ways to use the oils including massage, or by using a diffuser. There are aromatherapy candles and sprays available as well, but pay attention to the ingredients because they can contain chemicals that you may not want to use. It’s best to purchase from a quality source, ensuring they are in fact therapeutic grade.
Try this simple diffuser blend for relaxation:
- Grapefruit essential oil
- Lemon essential oil
- Sandalwood essential oil
- Follow the directions for your particular diffuser. Or, if you don’t have a diffuser, you can use a potpourri warmer as well.
- Fill the bowl with water and put in two drops of each essential oil.
You can also use aromatherapy massage. Many massage therapists are trained in using aromatherapy as part of their practice. You can often even bring your own oil blend with you to a massage appointment, depending on the practitioner. You can use the blend above and instead of putting the oil in water, have your therapist add it to the oil they are using for your treatment (this is a carrier oil). Good carrier oils include almond oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, or you can simply buy massage oil in the natural section of your supermarket or a health food store and add your aromatherapy blend to it.
Anxiety, stress and worry can zap the life out of you, but there are remedies to help you feel better, naturally. While each case is different, often even the smallest steps towards relaxation will help you feel at ease and ready to move forward with a sense of peace and calm.
Jennifer Barrows is an Empowered Single Mom, Writer and Certified Health Coach, practicing north of Boston. She received her health coaching certificate from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in December of 2013. Her coaching practice focuses on helping guide women through life transitions, using food and lifestyle upgrades to improve their moods and outlook.
She has written for local newspapers and just published a book, Still Together: A Single Mom’s Guide To Healing After Divorce.
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