We are living in times that are extremely stressful. We seem to be inundated with wave after wave of bad news, with no relief in sight. Financial strain, out of control violence, family pressures, work pressures…bad news wherever we look. With all this bad news, how can we possibly find any good in this imploding/exploding world?
The truth is… There are a lot of good things happening all around us. This may not sell newspapers or get people addicted to social media as bad news does, but if we want to thrive during our lifetime, we need to take time to look for the balance between good and bad news. Here are some the things that make Chris and I feel good about this amazing life we have: Entrepreneurs finding new ways to network and work; good relationships between families, friends and people who are different from us; people helping each other and supporting those who are having a hard time; Spring. There are many more, please add some in the comments below. Sharing is caring.
At the same time, our bodies react to all the stressful situations. Chronic inflammation, as discussed last week, can be caused by our bodies being under constant stressful conditions: “Chronic Stress Changes Immune Cell Genes, Leading To Inflammation: Study. … Researchers found that chronic stress changes gene activity of immune cells before they enter the bloodstream so that they’re ready to fight infection or trauma — even when there is no infection or trauma to fight.” (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/chronic-stress-health-inflammation-genes_n_422642…)
As always, Chris and I looked into ways that we can help our bodies, minds and spirits deal with our stress levels. “Whatever you practice grows stronger” (Tara Brach)
- Asparagus contains folic acid which is an important mood enhancing nutrient.
- Avocado are rich in stress-relieving B vitamins.
- Blueberries contains antioxidants and vitamin C which makes them powerful stress reducers.
- Almonds are rich in Vitamin B2 and E, both of which will help boost the immune system during stressful times.
- Oranges are high in Vitamin C which helps lower the stress hormone, cortisol.
- Salmon is high in Omega 3 fatty acids which helps keep cortisol and adrenaline from spiking during stressful times. (Pease make sure it is wild salmon and not farm reared).
- Green leafy vegetables which are packed with magnesium, a mineral that helps regulate cortisol levels and promote a feeling of wellbeing.
There are many others which you are welcome to add to this list.
Actions to take which can help to reduce our stress levels:
There are so many things we can do when we are stressed:
Exercise: especially walking or swimming.
Massage: When we can afford it, or if we have a long-suffering partner who enjoys giving a relaxing massage.
Time out: Half hours break to go sit in the sun or a walk around the garden/park. (There are many creative ways to take a time out)
Reiki: or any other stress-reducing hands on healing techniques.
Music: Listening to music, dancing to music or meditating to music is either very calming or can increase our happy hormones, depending on what we are listening to, and why we are listening.
Journaling: Getting our thoughts down on paper can often reduce our stress. It is also a way to get our creative juices flowing.
Spending time with friends: Meeting with friends for a fun activity-whatever that may be in your particular life, helps us get out of our stressful situation and can often help us to see things in a different light. (It is true that we have to choose friends wisely as some people can feed into our anxieties and make our stress situation worse).
Meditation: Just 20 minutes a day can help us become more mindful of our negative thoughts and help us be more aware of what we have to be grateful for and can help lower our blood pressure.
Herbs that may help reduce stress and anxiety:
- Passiflora ( Incarnata) has many common names, including purple passionflower. Studies suggest it might help relieve insomnia and anxiety. It appears to boost the level of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in your brain. This compound lowers brain activity, which may help you relax and sleep better. (https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/calming-effects-of-passionflower#calming)
- Lemon verbena is a soothing and relaxing infusion. The components in this herb give an extra boost as they have a mildly calming effect on the nervous system and help relieve muscle tension. These calming and tension releasing properties aid in reducing nerves, anxiety, and stress. Studies have indicated that verbascoside, a biological component in the lemon verbena leaf, is the main ingredient responsible for the stress and anxiety reducing properties. (https://grektea.com/blogs/news/lemon-verbena-tea-health-benefits)
- Lemon balm since ancient Greek times, lemon balm has long been known to relieve anxiety, promote sleep, and sooth agitation. A very recent study of herbs used in traditional Lebanese medicine as sedatives demonstrated that lemon balm extracts had the ability to bind to receptors that trigger relaxation and reduce anxiety in the brain. (http://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2007/8/report_stress_anxiety/Page-01)
- Lavender has long been known to be a natural relaxant. As a tea it can help with restlessness, anxiety and insomnia. (https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/stress-anxiety/lavender-reduces-signs-of-anxiety-in-women/)
- Chamomile reduces stress and anxiety and also helps treat insomnia related to stress. (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/toby-nwazor/6-natural-tea-remedies-fo_b_10619928.html)
- Lavender oil is known for its calming effects on the body and mind and it helps lessen anxiety.
- Basil oil is a calming oil. When inhaled it can ease nervous tension, anxiety and mental fatigue.
- Ylang Ylang oil is especially effective with anger-induced stress and can bring a feeling of immediate calm and peace.
- Bergamot oil helps relieve tension and anxiety.
- Frankincense oil which is rich in sesquiterpenes, molecular structures that can travel through the blood-brain barrier, can help ease the unpleasant effects of both anxiety and depression.
Today’s blog is a little longer than usual, but that is because Stress and its related illnesses are life destroying. Chris and I feel strongly that just as much as we need to feel the feelings that bring on stress, we cannot remain in that negative space.
Much love to you all.