Natural ways to relieve stress
As a doctor, I get a lot of health questions both in my practice and in my email inbox. Today, I found one that I felt was particularly compelling, which I’d like to share with you.
Hi, Dr. Manny, can you please tell me some natural remedies for stress? – Shideh
Winter and the accompanying bad weather can be a stressful time for anybody, especially in today’s day and age, with all the problems Americans are facing in this difficult economy. More and more people are suffering from negative stress. Negative stress takes a toll on our daily lives and our health and can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, anxiety and depression, among other problems, so I feel this question is very appropriate.
Rest assured, there are many things you can do before you run out to get a pill. Here’s a list of some of the most effective natural stress reducers.
While passionflower has long been considered a “folk remedy” for anxiety and insomnia, a few studies have shown that the herb may actually be comparable in effectiveness to benzodiazepine drugs, which are used to treat stress. Though not proven, it is believed that passionflower works by increasing levels of a chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. This lowers the activity of some brain cells, making you feel more relaxed.
Passionflower is available in a variety of forms, including infusions, teas, liquid extracts and tinctures. It is not recommended for children or for women who are pregnant or nursing. Consult your doctor before adding it to your diet, especially if you are taking other medications.
This is kind of a no-brainer, right? Everybody loves a massage. But did you know that it’s been used as a stress reliever for thousands of years? Historically, the Chinese used massage to open blocked energy channels in order to improve health and Hippocrates, the “father of western medicine,” used friction for physical healing treatments. Today, we use massage to relax tense muscles, reduce pain and improve circulation, which can all do wonders for the mind.
Meditation, or mindfulness, only takes 15 to 30 minutes a day, which is possible even in a packed schedule. It’s also incredibly affordable, considering the only tool you need is your own mind. Just give yourself some silent time to let your thoughts run free or just focus on your breathing. That small amount of peace in your day can help you deal with or even release stress.