19 Dec 11
Stress is one of the most common and damaging ailments of modern life and medical herbalist Lucy Stephens of London’s Reva Clinic (www.revaclinic.com) has some great natural Stressbusting Tips to reduce your daily stress. “We all need some stress – it’s what motivates us and allows us to get things done but too much stress can cause problems with our health, relationships and work. Some simple, natural remedies can improve your health and help beat some of the negative side effects of the condition such as digestion problems, mood swings, anxiety, poor concentration, headaches, muscle aches, dizziness and dry mouth.” says Lucy.
Lucy has put together some easy to follow advice that can help with managing our stress levels – the herb preparations are available through most health food stores and are easy to obtain:
Sleep soundly – often when you’re stressed it can affect your sleep patterns – you may have problems getting off to sleep or you wake in the early hours with a ‘to do’ list whirring round in your head. Having a clear wind-down period before you get into bed can be useful. Half an hour before your normal bedtime try switching off all electricals – your phone, the television, the laptop. Run a nice warm bath, add a couple of drops of lavender essential oil, dim the lights and soak away the stresses of the day. Lavender has been shown in many sleep studies to have sedative and relaxing properties. Follow this with a cup of chamomile tea – if you are using teabags try using 2 to one cup of hot water. Chamomile has been shown to have anti-anxiety as well as sedative effects, so it can be very useful at calming the mind ready for sleep.
Relax your tight muscles – sitting at your desk for long hours or just the pressure of deadlines can cause muscle tension in your neck and shoulders. Try adding 1 drop of rosemary essential oil to a base cream and massage it into your neck and shoulders. Rosemary is a good muscle relaxant that is used traditionally for sprains and bruises, but it has also been shown to be a stimulant for the central nervous system, so it will help you to concentrate better and improve alertness.
Breathe deeply – rapid, shallow breaths are a common sign of stress, particularly if we’re hunched over a computer. If you start to feel yourself getting angry, irritable, or anxious (all common signs of stress) try some calming breathing. Sit up in your chair, close your eyes and take a deep breath in for a count of 5 and then out again for a count of 7. Repeat this 5 times. You could also try inhaling an essential oil such as lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) as you take your deep breaths in. Lemon balm is good for calming the mind, relaxing and is uplifting for your mood.
Anxiety relief – our bodies all need a little help from time to time to get them back in balance. You might find work pressure is getting too much, or you just need a little support to get you through a tough period. Herbs such as Passiflora incarnata (passionflower), Valerian officinalis, Scutellaria lateriflora have been shown in many studies to be effective anti-anxiety herbs, as well as useful for insomnia.