By Brigitte Mars
Life is not without its share of stress. Even activities such as skiing down a mountain, aiming for higher goals or falling in love can take a toll on one’s nerves. All too often, during difficult times, people take worse care of themselves by either over or under eating, using more sugar, caffeine or alcohol. Though stress may often be unavoidable, we can come through most ordeals of our life-styles are balanced by faith, rest, good nutrition and exercise.
Stress actually depletes the body’s reserves of vitamins and minerals. Chronic muscle tension prevents good circulation and can leave a person more prone to illness. A stressful period in life should be an opportunity to take better care of oneself. During tense times, you owe it to yourself to choose nutritious foods. Small, frequent whole grain meals help to keep the blood sugar on an even keel as well as providing important B vitamins. Oatmeal and yogurt are two foods that are easy to digest and rich in calming calcium.
Nature’s floral pharmacy provides many herbs that nourish and support a frayed nervous system. Among them are:
- Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) – A general tonic that helps to relieve pain and muscle soreness. It is an excellent nervine.
- Oatstraw (Avena sativa) – Rich in calcium, stress soothing, even used in clinics in Europe and Asia to help people deal with the stress of giving up addictive substances.
- Peppermint (Mentha piperita) – Strengthening and calming to the nerves. Its very aroma is a pleasure to take in.
- Cinnamon (Cinnamomum speies) – Calms the central nervous system, improves circulation, benefits muscle soreness.
- Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) – Antispasmodic, sedative, has traditionally been used for depression and anxiety. The ancient physician, Avicenna said of lemon balm, “It causeth the mind and heart to be merrie.”
- Catnip (Nepeta cataria) – It only makes cats excited. In humans, this member of the mint family, lowers central nervous system activity.
- Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) – High in calcium and magnesium. This herb has been used throughout history for pain , fear, headaches, muscle spasms and even drug and alcohol withdrawal. This herb can help rebuild the nerve sheaths. Skullcap is considered to be one of the best tonics for the nervous system.
- Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) – Long used for worry and insomnia. Slows the breakdown of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine.
- Kava kava (Piper methysticum) – This root has been used in Polynesia for insomnia and nervousness as well as to relax the muscles.
- Lavender (Lavenda ul officinalis) – Very calming, its beautiful aroma has been used traditionally to “Left the spirits when feeling blue.”
- Nutmeg (Myristica fragans) – Small amounts of this spice has been used throughout history for various nervous disorders.
Other Herbs that aide stress reduction:
Both of these plants may not have an appealing taste for most people and are best taken as a fresh plant extract or in freeze dried capsule form. Before using addictive sedative drugs, consider the beneficial botanicals that have a long history of safe usage. There are many combinations available in natural food stores that contain effective herbal combinations.
Hops (Humulus lupulus) – A safe, reliable sedative that helps to induce sleep, contains B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and contains lupulin as a natural sedative.
Valerian (Valerianan officinalis) – Long valued for its ability to induce sleep, calm anxiety and relax muscles. In Europe, it is the most common non-prescription sedative.
Here are a few other ideas to enhance the serenity of your life:
- Exercise improves respiration and circulation, sends nutrients to the cells and stimulates endorphin production.
- Hatha yoga and tai chi can help relax the mind and the body.
- Get a massage.
- Reach out to someone. Hug your child, love your mate, lend a hand to a friend in need or even pet your pet.
- Remember to breathe more deeply and slowly. Oxygen nourishes the brain.
- Some people find that wearing the color blue is calming.
- Wear comfortable clothing that allows your skin to breathe and have freedom of movement.
- Try a relaxing bath. Light a candle, add a few drops of essential oils such as lavender, chamomile or rosemary to the bath water. Soak and enjoy. When done bathing, let the water run down the drain as you visualize all your stress going with it.
- When choosing music, select sounds that are calming and contemplative.
- Prepare your clothes, paperwork, etc. the night before, rather than starting your morning in a frenzy.
- Get out of bed 15 minutes earlier, to allow time to take care of what’s needed.
- Rather than letting your mind carry around so much, get an engagement book and write down numbers err ands and appointments.
- Write down all your problems and brainstorm possible solutions for solving them.
- Get rid of clutter in your life. Clutter causes confusion.
- Learn to do a craft. To create things of beauty is great for self esteem.
- Be prepared for lines that keep you waiting. Have something to read so you don’t have to feel like you are wasting time.
- Smile. Relaxing your face helps the rest of your body as well as putting to ease those around you.
- Talk to a sympathetic listener.
- Read books that are uplifting. A suggestion might be “You Can Heal You Life” by Louise Hay.
- Spend time basking in the beauty of nature.
- Pray for guidance.
- Remember to count your blessings!