Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Reduce Stress and Lift your Mood Naturally

1) Check for Deficiencies
Extensive scientific research proves that lacking vitamins such as B12, D3 and Omega 3 can lead to severe depression and anxiety (Link). Yet unfortunately, often physicians will not check for deficiencies before prescribing an antidepressant. 


2) Consider Herbal Supplements
  

In addition to vitamin supplementation, there are also many herbal and homeopathic remedies available. Two of my favorites are Bach's Rescue Remedy and Kava Kava. Check out my post on stress-busting vitamins and supplements Here.


3) Join a Free Support Group
Going to a counselor, a trusted friend or a free 12-step group may be an excellent way to release some tension while getting some valuable insight in a loving environment. 

There are support groups for many ailments these days, including depression, anxiety, OCD, codependency, PTSD, grief, etc. So if you do find a support group, try to find one that is focused on your main struggle. 
4) Daily Margin
photo by lisadragon

As a book needs margin on its pages, we all need margin in our lives. This is the area I have the most trouble in. Often my stress comes from saying "Yes" too much. Yet saying "No" to draining people or activities gives us the free time we need to recharge, relax and "smell the roses".

- Take a weekly "Sabbath". Allow yourself one day of rest per week. This means putting work and serious chores aside, allowing yourself some time to "smell the roses".

- Allow yourself 2-3 hours of "recharge time" daily. Some ideas for how to spend this time might include reading, watching your favorite show, grabbing a relaxed meal with your family or a friend, walking in a nature preserve, taking a warm bath or simply meditating quietly in your room. This time is also available for napping or simply resting in case you did not sleep well the night before.


5) Replace coffee with juice, water and/or green tea.

For many people, one cup of organic, black coffee per day actually has positive emotional effects. However, some people who are prone to panic attacks may find an improvement after quitting coffee. For example, a study published in 2007 found that 52 per cent of panic-disorder patients suffered a panic attack after drinking caffeinated coffee. Conversely, the panic-disorder patients drinking decaf did not suffer panic attacks (Link).

Many people who experience jitters from coffee are amazed by the "relaxed alertness" that green tea provides. There are two main reasons for this.

- First, green tea has less caffeine than coffee. 
- Second, "Green tea contains theanine, which helps promote sleep" (Link). 
This study proves the incredible relaxing effects of theanine.

6) Take a Break From Your Phone (and your computer)

Turning your phone off, or putting it on Airplane Mode, may help remind us of what life was like in the 20th century (and every other previous century), before the emergence of cell phones. "A new study has found that smartphones can actually increase people's stress levels, HealthDay news reports. The reason, as HealthDay explains, is that smartphones produce 'a relentless need to immediately review and respond to each and every incoming message, alert or bing'" (Link).


7) Take A Walk Outside
photo by ginnerobot on flickr.com

- "A 1999 study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine showed that university students who walked and did other easy to moderate exercise regularly had lower stress levels than couch potatoes or those who exercised strenuously" (link).


- "Levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate our mood, rises when we are outside. One study found that regular outdoor runners were less anxious and depressed than people who ran indoors on a treadmill, and had higher levels of post-exercise endorphins, the feel-good brain chemicals associated with 'runner's high'" (link).

8) Drink Green Juice or a Green Smoothie 

"Research shows that chlorophyll is effective in rebuilding the blood, stimulating liver function, strengthening immunity, and detoxifying chemical pollutants. Numerous recent studies have also indicated that chlorophyll has anti-carcinogenic and anti-mutagenic properties. In short, getting enough chlorophyll can help you feel more vital and less stressed, which equals less emotional eating. Chlorophyll is found in highest concentrations in green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, as well as wheat grass and blue-green algae." (link)
9) Eat For Energy

Avoiding processed sugars is a good way to improve your sense of well being. “Processed sugars bind with and dissolve B vitamins in the digestive tract, causing resultant health problems in the skin, nerves, digestive and undesirable stress reaction” (link). Rather, a diet that is rich in whole, fresh, uncooked vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes is a proven way to add the living essential vitamins and minerals into your diet that help keep us both calm and vibrant.
For a practical way to include more raw foods in your diet, check out my other post HERE.

10) Avoid large amounts of alcohol 

"In humans, a low dose of alcohol improved performance of a complex mental problem-solving task under stressful conditions. However, in some individuals, at certain doses, alcohol may induce rather than reduce the body's stress response. Much research demonstrates that alcohol actually induces the stress response by stimulating hormone release by the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands." (link)


11) Reduce Caffeine Intake 

"Caffeine injects adrenaline into your system, giving you a temporary boost, but possibly making you fatigued and depressed later. If you take more caffeine to counteract these effects, you end up spending the day in an agitated state, and might find yourself jumpy and edgy by night." (link)


12) Temporary Water or Juice Fasting

Occasional, controlled water or juice fasting can bring about stress relief. For more info, click here!

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