Our level of stress is a measurement of how many demands are placed on us and how well we handle them.
Just living creates stress—and this is a good thing.
Without it, we would not grow. Stress signals that we’re alive. But when we do not handle stress well, we fall into disequilibrium and all of our bodily systems are affected.
Want to stop feeling overstressed and start recuperating?
First, remove the stressors. This often involves shifting priorities. You need a job, the job comes with a long commute. Although it may be easier to “suck it up,” the long-term effects of a long commute on your quality of life and your health need to be considered. Try to find something closer that will meet your financial needs.
Eat seasonal, high-bioflavonoid whole foods,preferably grown without sprays and chemicals.
Seek out color! Leafy greens, such as chard and kale. Root veggies, such as beets and carrots. Red, blue and black berries. Spices, such as ginger, garlic and tumeric.
Ensure that you are eating good fats.
Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil for high-heat cooking, and clarified butter or ghee.
Avoid inflammatory foods.
This includes the beige-colored foods that predominate in quick-serve restaurants. These create more inflammation for your body to deal with. But it also includes foods that don’t sit well with you and that may set you up for autoimmune disorders.
Caffeine takes direct aim at the adrenal glands and these are what help us modulate our body’s response to stress.
Get enough movement, but don’t overexercise.
Strength training is helpful, and there are many different forms of movement, including yoga, dance, tai chi, Contact Improv, qigong, and martial arts.
Explore a wide variety of relaxation techniques.
These include meditation, breathwork, craniosacral and other forms of massage, acupuncture, equine therapy, and “brain dumping” via a journal. Spend time in nature, especially the woods for “wood-air” therapy.
Seek help with stubborn issues.
Basic counseling, shamanic work, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), biofeedback and having a regular spiritual practice can all help.
Where Herbs Can Help
Herbs have many actions, including “nervine,” and herbs that have nervine qualities can relax, stimulate or tonify and nourish the nervous system, depending on what’s needed. Many “nervines” also work on other systems of the body, including respiratory, digestive, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and reproductive, so can be tailored to meet the needs of specific people.
A special class of herbs that assist with stress are adaptogens and these work on both the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the sympatho-adrenal system. These are nontoxic, foster a nonspecific defense response, have a normalizing influence on the body, and increase its adaptive energy.
Long-term stress not dealt with depletes the entire body. So, address stress. In the long run, your body will love you for it—and be there to support you through life.
If you’d like to learn more about how herbs can help you deal with stress, consider taking my “Nerves and Herbs” class. Or if you’d like one-on-one help, call me Leigh Glenn, herbalist and herbal educator, at 410/757.4070 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note these tips are for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing here is intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure digestive issues. All people are different, and their unique health issues should be addressed by qualified health practitioners.
©2013 Leigh Glenn