Stress is something that just about everyone knows well and experiences often. It’s that feeling of pressure, typically a result of too much to do and too little time to do it in. In a busy life, stress is almost unavoidable. Stress is caused by events that are positive — new job, vacation or just managing daily life— as well as negative — finances, mental health challenges, death in the family. Stress is not the event itself but rather, your psychological or physical reaction to the event.
Anxiety is a tense feeling that often accompanies stress. It’s typically directed toward the future; toward something that may happen soon. Some anxious feelings can motivate you or help you respond to danger. However, if you have ongoing anxiety symptoms that interferes with daily activities and makes it hard to enjoy life, then anxiety can be a problem. According to the Harvard Medical School states the most prevalent mental health condition, affecting nearly 40 million people in the United States are types of anxiety disorders (generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, post traumatic stress disorder). In a future blog post I will discuss effective ways to help with anxiety levels through natural ways. However through this post I will focus on discussing 10 ways to combat stress in your life through natural ways.
What is Stress
People have a variety of ideas with respect to their definition of stress. The most common definition is, “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension”. Another popular definition of stress is, “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.”
Most people consider the definition of stress to be something that causes distress. However, stress is not always harmful since increased stress results in increased productivity. A definition of stress should also embrace this type of healthy stress response, which is usually ignored when you ask someone about their definition of stress.
Any definition of stress should also include good stress, or eustress. For example, winning a race or election is just as stressful as losing, or more so. Any definition of stress should similarly explain the difference between eustress and distress.
Fight or Flight Response
When we experience sudden, high stress situations, we activate our fight or flight response. Getting the body ready to either flee the scene or fight. In our everyday experience of stress, there is no place to run or hide, and the stressful situation is not one that can easily be fought off. Most of us are not meeting bears in the street!
During periods of chronic stress, the body stays in high speed, with stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol running through the body. This creates a lot of wear and tear on the body and mind, and over time can create many health problems such as chronic pain, anxiety, mood swings, gut inflammation and so many more.
Decreasing the Fight or Flight
The awesome thing is that our bodies contain their own SUPERPOWER that can assist with decreasing our fight or flight response.
The vagal nerve acts to counterbalance the fight or flight system and can trigger a relaxation response in our body. It is one of the cranial nerves that connect the brain to the body. The vagus nerve sends information from the gut to the brain, which is linked to dealing with stress, anxiety and fear- hence the saying , “gut feeling” These signals help a person to recover from stressful and scary situations. The vagal nerve is a major part of how our body and brain function. Without it, our bodies wouldn’t be able to do basic tasks, and by stimulating it we can receive powerful health benefits.
We can stimulate our vagus nerve to send a message to our body that it’s time to relax and de-stress, which leads to long-term improvements in mood, pain management, wellbeing and resilience.
10 Natural Remedies
1. Vagal Nerve Stimulator
Your brain naturally has electrical currents. A Vagal Nerve stimulator delivers a natural level of microcurrent, via small clips worn on your earlobes, through the brain to stimulate and regulate specific groups of nerve cells. The microcurrent is very tiny and completely safe, yet is effective for anxiety relief, mood normalization, and better sleep (both in quality and duration). Treatments take only 20 minutes and you can use Vagal Stimulator in the privacy of your own home or carry it with you. Not only does the stimulator improve brain function, it also has been shown to relieve post-traumatic stress and acute and chronic pain.
This is something that I have been doing for about 6 months each day (almost) in the middle of the afternoon. Each person is different how they will respond to the Stimulator. At first I started to use the device prior to bed however that seemed to turn my mind on and it was difficult to do to sleep. I changed to mid afternoon when you would want to reach for a soda or sugary treat. I have seen how it helps to increase my energy levels and it also gives me permission to take a break from busy mom life and rest for 15-20 minutes.
Essential oils provide dynamic support for managing stress. For example, scientists found that wild orange oil had an anxiety-reducing effect on male volunteers who inhaled 2.5, 5, or 10 drops. Using Balance Essential Oil and applying it to the bottoms of feet to start your day. Diffuse to create a calming, grounding space during demanding or difficult times which is one of my top 5 essential oils that I love.
Adaptiv Calming Blend is the answer during life’s most demanding moments. Diffuse or roll on to create a calming atmosphere. Adaptiv Capsules combine clinically studied botanicals with a blend of essential oils to help you adapt to stressful situations*, which I have found that when I am overly stressed the Adaptive softgel capsules really calm my stressed out mind.
Copaiba is very effective in helping with anxious feelings, actually more effective then CBD products that has become very popular.
According to Hill in an article by US News, CBD and copaiba both bind to the CB2 receptor and have shown to have downstream effects in the body. The real difference between the two molecules – CBD and Copaiba – is that they bind at different spots on the CB2 receptor. CBD has a cascade of metabolic interactions that take place to get the CB2 receptor activated, but copaiba has direct interaction with the CB2 receptor. Both the indirect and direct pathways that CBD and copaiba take can be effective, but Hill “believes that the advantage copaiba has over CBD is consistency”.
3. Physical Activity
Develop a regular exercise routine so that you’re physically active most days of the week. Exercise is a powerful stress reducer. It may improve your mood and help you stay healthy. Start out slowly and gradually increase the amount and intensity of your activities. Remember to avoid overdoing it — over exercising increases inflammation. Exercise is a great way to oxygenate the brain, which dampens brain inflammation, and activate the vagus nerve.
Here are the some types of exercises recommend:
High-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT dilates blood vessels, lowers inflammation, and improves blood flow to the brain. Do at least 1–2 times a week. HIIT involves reaching your maximum heart rate with a short but vigorous burst of exercise, resting, and repeating. This can be done on a spin bike, running, walking up a hill, doing calisthenics, or whatever aerobic exercise that works for you.
Strength training. Lift heavy weights 1–4 times a week.
Brisk walks. Walk at a pace that makes you sweat 30–60 minutes a day.
Exercise of your choice. Choose a sport or exercise routine you enjoy and will stick with consistently.
4. Mindfulness meditation
During meditation, you focus your attention and quiet the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that can help both your emotional well-being and your overall health. Figuring out mindfulness techniques can empower us to enhance our well-being. You can practice guided meditation, guided imagery, mindfulness, visualization and other forms of meditation anywhere at any time. For example, you could meditate when you’re out for a walk, riding the bus to work or waiting at your health care provider’s office.
Mindfulness draws on the principles of meditation to help people become more aware of how negative thoughts impact physical feelings. Research has shown benefits may include:
- Reduced stress and worrying
- Improved memory and focus
- Fewer emotional ups and downs, and greater resilience
- Improved relationships
Evidence supports the idea that meditation and mindfulness-based stress reduction are very helpful for managing mood disorders, and experts recommend it.
One of the main ways that you can stimulate the healthy function of the vagus nerve is through deep slow deep breathing. You can learn to use deep breathing exercises to shift your focus away from stress or pain. The human mind processes one thing at a time. If you focus on the rhythm of your deep breaths, you’re not focused on the stressor.
The moment we anticipate stress in any form, most of us tend to stop breathing and hold our breath or start shallow breathing. Breath holding activates the fight/flight/freeze response; it tends to increase the sensation of pain, stiffness, anxiety, or fear. To practice deep breathing exercises inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth remember to:
- Breathe more slowly (aim for about six breaths per minute).
- Breathe more deeply, from the belly. Think about expanding your abdomen and widening your rib cage as you inhale.
- Exhale longer than you inhale. The key thing to remember is It’s the exhale that triggers the relaxation response.
6.Cold Exposure/ Ice Bath
Although they sound horrible, most people come to love morning cold shower or ice baths for how much better they make you feel because this to helps stimulate the vagus nerve. While you are in the cold shower/ice bath go ahead and do breathing exercises along with your cold-water therapy. In the beginning this will help you better tolerate the water. Then you can use the experience to lengthen and deepen your breathing exercises, which will improve vagus nerve function, better oxygenate your body, and improve your lung capacity. The key is to get to a place of discomfort to help change your physiology but please be safe! Here are my tips to gain benefit from cold exposure:
- Cold water face immersion: immerse your forehead eyes and at least 2/3 of both cheeks into cold water. This elicits the vagus nerve, decreasing heart rate, stimulating the intestines and turns on the immune system
- Stay at least 1 minute in a cold shower on the coldest setting—you can do it after your hot shower.
- Fill a tub with cold water and ice and submerge up to your neck (including your hands). Work up to 11 minutes a week (spread out however you like). Which has been found to be the minimum time required for optimal benefits.
- Splash cold water on your face daily.
- Place ice cubes in a Ziploc bag or washcloth and hold against your face.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, stress and sleep are closely connected. When we don’t get enough sleep, once again our bodies go into “fight or flight” mode, which means that the body releases stress hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. If sleep deprivation and overproduction of stress hormones continue, you’ll feel the effects of chronic stress. Such as suppressed immune function, inflammation, weight gain, irritability, depression, panic, and anxiety disorders, cardiovascular damage, chronic digestive conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Stress can cause you to have trouble falling asleep. When you have too much to do — and too much to think about — your sleep can suffer. But sleep is the time when your brain and body recharge. Most adults need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
And how well and how long you sleep can affect your mood, energy level, focus and overall functioning. If you have trouble sleeping, make sure that you have a quiet, relaxing bedtime routine. For example, listen to soothing music, make sure the area you sleep in is cool, dark and quiet, put phones and tablets away, and stick to a regular schedule.
Here are just a few positive effects you can look forward to when you improve your nightly rest:
- Better emotional regulation. When you get a good night’s sleep, your body naturally reduces the levels of cortisol and other stress hormones. Well-rested people have been shown to stay calmer and react less strongly to negative situations the day after a good night’s sleep.
- Improved recovery and repair. When we sleep, our bodies have a chance to recover from the day’s activities, flush toxins from the brain, and put energy toward building and repairing cells.
- Plays a part in memory formation. Sleep also allows the brain to consolidate memories and process information. While you sleep, your brain is forming new pathways between the neurons (nerve cells) in your brain. These pathways are how you learn and store new information you took in during the day.
8. Balanced Diet
Stress and diet have always been linked. It’s possible that someone eating a balanced healthy diet is going to be far less stressed than someone eating a poor diet. If you’re feeling overly stressed, your digestive system is probably under a great deal of strain. Making changes to your diet could be key to feeling better physically and emotionally. It is a good idea to stay away from caffeine, alcohol, and foods that are high in fat and sugar. Adding at least 5 fruits and vegetables to get a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals. Focus on foods containing vitamins B, C and magnesium. Healthy snacks such as yogurt, nuts and seeds, complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, calcium-rich foods in your diet (such as low-fat milk, yoghurt, sesame seeds, kelp, cheese, leafy greens and broccoli) may be beneficial.
9. Alternative therapies
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy focused on pinpointing and questioning negative. Often mistaken thoughts that can lead to behavioral and mental health problems.
Research shows that people who receive Cognitive-behavioral therapy have a greater reduction in mental health symptoms as compared to people who use medication alone.
There is solid evidence that CBT, meditation and mindfulness are effective.
Another option is support groups. The common experience among members of a support group often means they have similar feelings, worries, everyday problems, treatment decisions. Participating in a group provides you with an opportunity to be with people who are likely to have a common purpose and understand one another. Benefits of participating in a support group may include; feeling less lonely, isolated or judged. Also you may feel reducing stress, depression, anxiety or fatigue.
Certain supplements and vitamins may help reduce stress and anxiety—and when paired with other healthy lifestyle habits, the results can be quite effective. These are 10 vitamins and other supplements that may combat or reduce stress and anxiety levels. B Vitamins, Vitamins C, Vitamins D, Melatonin, Ashwagandha, Magnesium, L-theanine, Glycine, Rhodiola Rosea, Kava. Be sure to consult with your healthcare provider before taking any new supplements.
Adding a daily routine of supplementation with a multivitamin, mineral and herbal formulation may be useful. In improving alertness and reducing negative mood symptoms and may also improve feelings of general day-to-day well-being.
Here is a great supplement called Life Long Vitality that is a three-pack supplement comes with a whole food-based multivitamin. Our food is no longer as nutritious as it used to be. Our soils are depleted, so it’s hard to get all of our nutrients from food even if you are a super healthy foodie. In the three pack you will also find a high-quality Omega-3 supplements. Omega-3s are good for brain health, neurological connective tissue, and even emotions. It is really important to take a good Omega-3 each day.
Lastly in the three pack we have the Cellular Vitality Complex. This helps with brain health as well as supporting the metabolic system in the brain and mitochondria. Of course, it also helps with energy levels.
If you are feeling like you could have better sleep, improved mood, better digestion, more energy and some deep-rooted repair within your body? You want to build a healthy foundation you will love this product. There is a reason this is the number one selling product with DoTERRA.
The brain is an area that does not magically get better on its own. You have to take action to set it on the right course. Through some key lifestyle changes of your daily routine, discussed above, and implementing just a few of these natural remedies you might be able to get a handle on your stress.
If you are trying to seek alternative but effective treatment for combating stress please discuss these options your healthcare provider or medical professionals. *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
If you are looking for natural remedies to combat your anxiety go to this post!
What of all these natural Remedies do you think you will implement to deal with the stresses of life?