This is the third blog in a series of four on stress and stress management. So far I’ve defined stress and offered a few daily practices that you can incorporate into your life to help minimize stress. Sometimes, however, we need more concentrated and targeted therapies to reduce our stress, so that’s what I’ll be discussing in this blog post – natural stress relievers for long term support.
I run a busy medical practice with 12 employees and a growing list of patients.
Needless to say, life can get busy for me and if I don’t manage the stress of it all on a regular basis, it starts to take a toll on my health. I start to feel anxious. I have trouble sleeping and digesting my meals. My immune system also becomes imbalanced, which makes me more susceptible to bacterial and viral infections.
In addition to managing my stress daily, these are the natural stress relievers that I incorporate into my life at least once a week:
Floating is also known as rest therapy or sensory deprivation. During a floating session, you’ll be invited to lay in a dark, warm tank of salt water. The tank is soundproof and free of any intense sensory stimulation. The perfect environment for your nervous system to relax.
It feels like what I imagine a womb or a cocoon to be, and it is hands down my favorite natural stress reliever!
The benefits of floating include:
- lowers heart rate and stabilizes blood pressure
- normalizes digestive function
- balances immune and hormone systems
- calms the nervous system
I personally float 2-3 times a week and have experienced significant changes in my body – less stress and anxiety, better quality sleep, and decrease in body fat.
Stress affects our physical body, and it can also negatively affect our energy field. In addition to affecting your adrenal glands, immune system, and gut, it depletes your chi or life force, making you less resilient and less able to handle the smaller stresses of life.
Since acupuncture helps to restore our life force or chi, it is one of the natural stress relievers that I recommend often. It’s also effortless. Like floating, you have the opportunity to lay and relax while the acupuncturist inserts thin needles into different meridian points on your body to help restore balance.
3. Saunas or Hot Baths
If you follow Vitality Natural Health Care on Social Media, you know just how much I love saunas as a natural stress reliever. I personally sit in the sauna for 20-30 minutes once or twice a week and recommend that my patients do the same.
Of course, not everyone has access to a sauna, so you can also soak for 20-30 minutes in a bath with epsom salt and a few drops of a soothing essential oil, like lavender.
To make an Epsom salt bath:
- Use 2 cups of Epsom salt for a standard-sized bathtub with warm water.
- Pour the salt under the water spout so it dissolves faster. The water may feel soapy. You can also add any essential oils that you may be using at this time.
- Soak in the tub for 20-30 minutes.
The warm temperature of both the sauna and the bath will help calm your nervous system. If you do it at night, it will also help you to sleep better, which is essential for stress relief and management.
Meditation has become a buzzword in health and wellness over the past 5 years, and with good reason. It boasts the following health benefits:
- lowers cortisol and reduces stress
- reduces symptoms of anxiety
- decreases blood pressure
- improves sleep
I recommend meditation as a daily practice, but also as a moment to moment practice – living in the moment and being present in every aspect of your life. This is where the true stress relief occurs because if you’re present and in the moment, instead of getting stuck in what happened in the past or worrying about what might happen in the future.
Of course, it helps to have a 15-20 daily reflection practice. This will increase your ability to remain present from moment to moment.
I recommend an app like Headspace or 10% Happier for this.
Research has shown that exercise naturally helps to relieve stress, especially aerobic exercise.
When we’re stressed, our bodies accumulate cortisol, neurotransmitters, and other hormones at toxic levels. It’s important to have a way to flush these out of our body so that our body and nervous system can normalize.
Exercise doesn’t mean that you have to go to the gym, however. Find ways to move that you enjoy.
Some options include:
- Dance classes
- Walking or running in nature
- Tai chi
There are so many options, so make this a priority. I often hear from patients that they don’t have the time to exercise, but honestly, if you have time to scroll on social media and like images of other people exercising and prioritizing their wellness, you have time to exercise yourself.
Set aside 10-15 minutes each day to move your body.
As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, stress doesn’t go away, but we can learn to manage it and keep our bodies healthy and strong in the process. Using the resources mentioned here, in addition to the daily practices I shared in the last blog of this series will help significantly.
In the next and final blog post in this series on stress, I’ll be diving a little deeper into the ways that stress affects your physiology, hormones specifically.
Stay tuned for more!