Managing stress is crucial for maintaining physical and emotional well-being.
Stress can manifest in various ways, from anxiety and depression to fatigue and heart disease.
It is essential to find natural ways to cope with stress. In this article, we will discuss several methods, including adaptogens, yoga, gratitude, mindfulness, setting boundaries, exercise, diet, and sleep.
1. Adaptogens are a class of herbs known for their ability to help the body adapt to stress by regulating the hormone cortisol as well as various other mechanisms responsible for the effects of stress. They have been used for centuries in traditional medicine to improve overall health and well-being. Some commonly used adaptogens include:
- Holy Basil
- Ginkgo Biloba
These herbs are believed to reduce inflammation and improve both mood and energy levels (see study). They can be consumed in various forms such as supplements, teas, or tinctures. Keep in mind that adaptogen herbs have various other health benefits as well as some potential side-effects. For example, Holy Basil and Ashwagandha are both found to reduce blood sugar, making them somewhat useful is managing diabetes and pre-diabetes. On the contrary, if you are taking anti-diabetic medications, these herbs could further lower your blood sugar putting you at risk for hypoglycemia. Therefore, you should always use herbs with proper supervision of a doctor.
2. Yoga is another effective way to manage stress. It involves the combination of physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation. Yoga helps to calm the mind and body, thus reducing the effects of stress. It also improves flexibility, strength, and balance. Yoga can be practiced at home or in a class setting, and there are various styles and levels to choose from. Various studies have demonstrated that yoga is highly effective for managing stress as well as managing various health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, depression, anxiety, COPD and more (see study).
3. Practicing gratitude is a powerful tool to manage stress. Reflecting on things that one is thankful for can shift perspective and reduce stress. It can be as simple as taking a moment each day to appreciate what one has. Our thoughts have the ability to alter our biochemistry including our neurochemistry. Keeping our thoughts positive is vital.
4. Mindfulness, the act of being present in the moment and aware of one’s thoughts and feelings, can reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Mindfulness practices such as meditation and yoga can help to focus the mind and reduce stress. There have been extensive clinical studies done on mindfulness-based therapy demonstrating significant benefits for depression, anxiety and stress (see study)
5. Setting boundaries and learning to say no is essential to manage stress. Overcommitting to too many things can increase stress levels. Setting boundaries and declining commitments that do not align with one’s priorities can reduce stress.
6. Regular exercise is one of the most effective ways to assist the body with its various physiological functions including the regulation of stress mechanisms (see study). It causes the body to release endorphins, also known as “feel-good” hormones, which can improve mood and reduce anxiety. Getting at least 30- 40 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise 3-4 days a week is a good place to start.
A Healthy Diet
7. A healthy diet that includes organic antioxidant-rich fruits (such as berries, apples, pomegranates) and vegetables (such as cauliflower, broccoli, cucumber, cilantro, etc), healthy fats (such as nuts, seeds, avocados, eggs, etc), nutrient-dense foods (such as organ meats, sardines, salmon, nuts and seeds), and probiotic-rich foods (such as kefir, sauerkraut, kimchee, etc) can help to improve overall health by giving your body the building blocks for health tissue, enzymes, hormones and literally every cell in the body. Avoiding foods high in sugar, white flour, caffeine, processed foods and other junk foods can also help. By following a nutrition and healthy diet, we are giving our body’s the raw materials to rebuild the body and counter the harmful effects that stress can have.
8. Getting enough sleep is another crucial goal for managing stress. When we sleep our body and mind get rest while various hormones (such as Human Growth Hormone) are released for rebuilding the body and helping with wear and tear. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and establish a regular sleep routine. Its also good to avoid screens for at least an hour before going to bed, and create a comfortable and dark environment for sleeping.
It’s important to note that different strategies will work for different people and that it may take some experimentation to find what works best for you. Additionally, stress management is an ongoing process that requires regular self-care and attention. It’s also recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen. And if stress is impacting your daily life, it’s best to seek professional help.
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(Always use medicinal herbs under the supervision of a doctor)
by Dr. Nishal R.
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