Dealing with Stress and Anxiety Naturally…
Beth Joscelyne, 2018 SPCNM Graduate Practitioner
Mental or emotional stress is something we all experience throughout our lives. It’s just part of being alive, and of course, stress isn’t all bad. In fact, it’s often highly beneficial, serving to increase our productivity, enhancing our concentration, and even boosting our memory. Stress also serves a protective role, alerting us when we are off balance, and setting off a cascade of physiological and behavioural responses designed to help us deal with the stressor in an appropriate way and return us to equilibrium.
However, when stress becomes chronic, this is when it has detrimental effects on both our mental and physical health. Most of us have at certain times experienced the negative effects of chronic stress; for example, disturbed sleep, the fueling of unhealthy addictive behaviours such as overeating, fertility issues, increased blood pressure, impaired immune function, and overall reduced ability to cope with the day-to-day challenges we would normally deal with without much concern.
While many medications are prescribed to treat the symptoms of stress, such as sleeping tablets, anti-depressants, antacids and hypertensive drugs, these generally come with side effects, and do not address the underlying cause of the symptoms they are treating.
Supporting our mind & body naturally to better deal with stress…
Okay, so while we can’t always remove stress from our lives, what we can do is enhance our ability to manage and deal with stress more effectively. Listed below are some simple and natural ways scientifically proven to increase our stress tolerance, and even enhance our overall health and happiness! Win!
Before you roll your eyes & think meditation ‘isn’t for me…’, please just hear me out. There are truckloads of research highlighting the benefits of meditation, and the good news is you start to enjoy these benefits from the very first time you practice. I’m serious, literally 2-5 minutes a day sitting in meditation and your health (mind AND body) will be enhanced! There’s so many ways to meditate, including observing your breath, listening to a guided meditation, or observing the sensations within your body – so just find one that resonates with you, and work towards establishing a daily practice. It’s free, it’s simple and EVERYONE can fit 2 minutes into their day.
A great free app to help you to establish a daily practice is ‘Insight Timer’ – https://insighttimer.com Use it as a timer, setting chimes to bring you back when your mind wanders, or choose from a wonderful range of guided meditations; it also rewards you with stars and flowers (it’s the simple things…) every time you achieve 10 days of mediation in a row…
- Bach Flowers
Speaking of flowers… Most people have heard of Rescue Remedy, but Bach flowers offer so much than just Rescue Remedy. A safe and natural method of healing, they work on an emotional or mental level, subtlety restoring balance and moving us from negative emotional states linked to fear, worry, anger, and indecision, to more positive emotional states, such as trust, inner peace, calm and steadfastness.
We use Bach Flowers a lot in Paua Clinic to help support our clients emotionally, and time and time again I am awed by their effectiveness. Now that’s flower power!
- Implement some other form of mindfulness…
In addition to meditation, there are many other ways to cultivate mindfulness. These include yoga, deep breathing, qigong and tai chi. Mindfulness is all about cultivating present moment awareness (letting go of fears that relate to the future, and anger or resentment that relates to the past), and enabling us to cultivate inner peace which is only available to us in the present moment.
Research clearly demonstrates the enormous health benefits a regular mindfulness practice has on our physical, mental and spiritual health, and we can no longer deny the strong connection between stress and our physical health, with research highlighting clear links to many serious chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and autoimmune diseases to name just a few. YouTube is a great resource to explore whichever form of mindfulness you choose, offering a huge variety of fantastic teachers and classes.
I’m yet to come across someone who does not like listening to music. Music deeply connects us with our emotions, so after a stressful day choose the style of music that makes you feel good. For some people this might be something that gets you dancing around your living room like a wannabe pop star, or it might be a classical piece that takes you somewhere far away. Whatever it is, research confirms what we intuitively already know, music is a wonderful healing tool, effectively reducing stress and anxiety. So please excuse me for a moment while I crank up my favourite tunes…
Herbs can be a fantastically effective way to support your nervous system when you are under stress or suffering from anxiety. There exists a huge variety of herbs with amazing medicinal actions beneficial to us when we are under stress. Some fabulous herbs known to help us cope with stress include, Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Kava (Piper methysticum), Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) and Passion flower (Passiflora incarnate).
Medicinal herbs can be taken in various forms including as a tea, as a supplement, or made up into a tailored liquid herbal formulation. While generally very safe, herbs just like pharmaceutical medications, can interact with other medications or may be contraindicated in certain circumstances, so it is always recommended that you work with a naturopath or medical herbalist when It comes to deciding which herbs are best suited to you.
As you can see there is lots you can do to support your mind and body when under stress. The major bonus is that all of these things can be implemented as preventative strategies, before stress starts taking a negative toll on our health. And when done it this way, will not only protect us from negative health consequences, but also can enhance our health and happiness! So, what are you waiting for, start stress-proofing yourself today!
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