What are some natural stress relievers?
Close your eyes, take three long breaths, and picture yourself in a relaxing scene (hiking in a forest, lying on a deserted beach, walking through town after a fresh snowfall). Focus on the details-the sights, the sounds (or lack thereof), the smells for a great natural stress reliever.
As a stress reduction tool, using a scale of one to 10 (one being equivalent to a minor hassle and 10 being a true catastrophe), assign a number to whatever is making you tense. Most problems rank pretty low and are not worth your worry.
Before you do or say something you'll regret, silently count to 10. Use this time to take a few deep breaths, stretch, or recite an affirmation.
A study at Duke University in Durham, N.C., found homeopathy effective in quelling anxiety disorders. Look for stress formulas such as Nerve Tonic (from Hyland) or Sedalia (from Boiron) in your health food store.
Researchers have found that those who owned a pet had lower blood pressure than those who didn't because pets relieve stress. If you don't have a pet, visit a friend's because petting an animal for just a couple of minutes helps relieve stress.
Heighten your awareness of the moment by focusing intently on an object. Notice a pencil's shape, color, weight and feel. Or slowly savor a raisin or a piece of chocolate. Mindfulness leads to relaxation.
Both Siberian and Panax ginseng, which bolster the adrenal glands, may also be effective in coping with stress. These stress-fighting herbs are sometimes called "adaptogens" (because they help the body "adapt" to challenges) or "tonics" (because they "tone" the body, making it more resilient). All can be safely taken together.
Other herbs and nutritional supplements, used singly or together or combined with the supplements above, may be of value in special circumstances. For stress-induced anxiety, try kava, which is best reserved for high-stress periods lasting up to three months. Take melatonin if worry is keeping you up at night, and St. John's wort if stress is accompanied by mild depression.
After a hard day of work, treat yourself to downtime with some relaxing melodies. Change into comfy clothes, find a quiet spot where you won't be disturbed, light a few aromatherapy candles, breathe deeply and let your mind and soul be massaged by the music.
Have you had a bad day? Brew a pot of chamomile tea. It's natures tranquilizer. Drink at least 2 cups for effective herbal stress relief.
Devise an affirmation, or a short, clear, empowering statement. For example: "I feel calm. I can handle this." Then, the next time you feel as if your life is one disaster after another, take a deep breath and repeat it 10 times.
To reduce the hormones associated with stress, have a good laugh once or twice a day for another good natural stress reliever.
A number of studies have shown that music can do everything from slow heart rate to increase endorphins. Good bets: "Air for G-String" by Bach, "Pastoral" by Beethoven, "Nocturne in G" by Chopin, "Water Music" by Handel, or "Autumn" or "December" by pianist George Winston for examples of stress reduction tools.
Research shows that the sounds of nature have a relaxing effect and reduces stress. Pop in a CD of surf sounds the next time you want to mellow out.
The B vitamins can help your body cope with stress. They can also boost the immune system and counteract fatigue. Look for a B complex pill with 400 mcg of folic acid and 50 mcg of all other B vitamins.
One mental health tip is that sharing your troubles can give you perspective, help you feel cared for, and relieve your burden. So pick up the phone or walk next store and catch up with a friend.
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