Naturopathic stress reduction ideas

Naturopathic stress reduction ideas

Author -  Good Health

Every day we are exposed to stimulus which puts our nervous system in overdrive. Whether it is a heavy workload, upcoming exams, moving home, or trying to find a work/life balance; stress can be an escapable reality.

Traditionally stress had a protective function; it enhanced our body’s readiness for action when we were in danger. Stress induces the sympathetic nervous system, increasing adrenaline and cortisol for quick reactions; increasing blood pressure; diverting the supply away from the digestive and reproductive system and towards our arms and legs so we can run. Contemporary stress is usually psychological, however regardless of the type of stress; our physiological response is still the same. With increased stress, adrenalin and cortisol communicate that our life is at risk. An overactive sympathetic nervous system can be detrimental to our health and wellbeing, and constant stimulation can make it hard to feel calm and centered.

The nervous system is the predominant co-ordinator of all bodily functions and while we may not always be able to control external stressors, we can change our nervous system response to them. Naturopathy acknowledges the body’s innate self-healing ability and employs holistic practises to balance both the mind and body to achieve optimal health. Here are our 10 top stress reduction tips:

1. Take a deep breath

Breathing can affect our nervous system positively or negatively. Nothing communicates stress more than short sharp breaths; comparatively taking long slow breaths communicates the idea of being safe. Breathing is the only way to consciously affect our autonomic nervous system, and can encourage relaxation, reduce cortisone (our stress hormone) and the production of insulin (our fat storage hormone). Link your breathing practise to a daily routine such as taking a shower, on your route to work or waiting for the jug to boil; this way it will quickly become a habit. Begin your breath by allowing the lower part of your stomach to rise, inhaling into the stomach and expanding out of your ribcage. Do this for 20 long, slow, breaths daily and whenever you need some time out.

ISS_5112_02400.png

2. Exercise

As the body is poised for action under the parasympathetic nervous system, exercise can be used as a tool to reduce stress. High intensity exercise can burn adrenaline however if we are feeling depleted from chronic stress, some exercise can do more harm than good. Not all exercise needs to get your heart rate pumping to be effective. Yoga and tai chi reduce stress and fatigue, and have been found effective for the prevention of disease. Taking a walk in nature can have mood elevating effects beyond exercising indoors, and will increase your Vitamin D levels for an extra boost.

dreamstime_m_2780802.png

3. Find a new favourite book

Reading acts as a distraction from the outside world; engages the mind and requires you to fully focus on someone else’s world. As little as six minutes of reading can reduce muscle tension and slow down the heart rate. An enjoyable read can give your mind a rest from everyday stress and engage your imagination. Ask friends for book recommendations and use your daily train commute or lunch break to explore someone else’s world.

ING_40492_06001.png

4. Meditation

The oldest known technique for relaxation, meditation can be defined in various ways; however above all it is a quiet practise which relaxes the mind. Studies have shown that anxiety, a major symptom of acute stress is reduced through meditation and the practise has the power to alter brain structures and modify neurochemistry. Find a quiet space to let go of all connection to your senses and conscious thoughts. You may find some thoughts particularly persistent, however use this time to acknowledge what is provoking you and then move forward.

dreamstime_m_87477517.png

5. Reduce caffeine

Over 90% of adults in the Western world consume caffeine daily with studies suggesting New Zealand’s caffeine intake has tripled since the 1960s. Caffeine is commonly used to increase alertness and functioning in times of increased demand or fatigue. Caffeine however increases cortisol production, demands more from the adrenal glands, and can deplete the body of key nutrients necessary for optimal functioning. Caffeine reduction is best done slowly to reduce withdrawals and replacement with herbal teas such as chamomile, dandelion tea or an anti-inflammatory turmeric latte can be beneficial.

03D30719.png

6. Stabilise your blood sugar

Simple carbohydrates and sugars are commonly craved during times of stress due to their tryptophan-serotonin enhancing effect that enhances the mood. Sugar is useful when energy is needed, however if you are sitting at work sugars and simple carbohydrates will lead to a blood sugar rise and subsequent crash, and the increased production of insulin, our fat storage hormone. Complex carbohydrates high in fibre such as whole grains slow down the release of blood sugar and high-protein foods may decrease cravings and provide amino acids that also regulate blood sugar. If you do have a persistent sweet craving, reach for dark chocolate. Good quality rich dark chocolate (over 70% cacao) is a source of antioxidants which help to protect your body and the high magnesium content will help to reduce tension (in moderation!).

ING_33594_170547.png

7. Supplements

Several nutritional supplements can help reduce the negative effect stress has on our body. Vitamin B supports the nervous system function and helps to manufacture neurotransmitters which influence the body’s stress response. Studies have found Fish Oil lowers adrenaline levels in healthy individuals, as well as students experiencing stress from exams. Iodine supports the adrenal glands which regulate the release of cortisol and other hormones. Furthermore, stress can deplete important minerals such as calcium, zinc and magnesium which may lead to deficiency signs such as poor wound healing, irritability and fatigue.

03E26182.png

8. Have a massage

Touch is one of the most ancient healing techniques and has been found effective in the reduction of stress. Massage is beneficial for the psychological manifestation of stress as it reduces muscle tension, increases blood flow and reduces blood pressure.

03C40575.png

9. Aromatherapy

Scents can quickly trigger physical reactions and essential oils can be used to relieve stress, relax the body and promote sleep. Nervines and nervine relaxants such as lavender, lemon balm and rosemary act on the central nervous system and can be diluted and applied to the skin, added into a bath or an oil burner.

dreamstime_m_78007659.png

10. Progressive muscular relaxation

In times of stress, our bodies automatically respond by increasing muscle tension. Progressive muscle relaxation is a great method to reverse tension and elicit relaxation. Moving sequentially from your forehead to your toes (or vice versa), consciously tense each muscle group then release (i.e. brows, cheek, jaw, neck). This controlled muscle activity interrupts the stress response by interfering with tension and provides focus.

Sometimes stress can get the better of us, however with the right tools, you can help your body to centre itself again. It is helpful to take note of your attitudes, emotions and everyday behaviours and if you notice stress is negatively impacting them, then make a change before the stress becomes overwhelming. Taking note of how stress influences you is the first step in reducing stress altogether.

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Naturopathic stress reduction ideas

Every day we are exposed to stimulus which puts our nervous system in overdrive. Whether it is a heavy workload, upcoming exams, moving home, or trying to find a work/life balance; stress can be an escapable reality.

Traditionally stress had a protective function; it enhanced our body’s readiness for action when we were in danger. Stress induces the sympathetic nervous system, increasing adrenaline and cortisol for quick reactions; increasing blood pressure; diverting the supply away from the digestive and reproductive system and towards our arms and legs so we can run. Contemporary stress is usually psychological, however regardless of the type of stress; our physiological response is still the same. With increased stress, adrenalin and cortisol communicate that our life is at risk. An overactive sympathetic nervous system can be detrimental to our health and wellbeing, and constant stimulation can make it hard to feel calm and centered.

The nervous system is the predominant co-ordinator of all bodily functions and while we may not always be able to control external stressors, we can change our nervous system response to them. Naturopathy acknowledges the body’s innate self-healing ability and employs holistic practises to balance both the mind and body to achieve optimal health. Here are our 10 top stress reduction tips:

1. Take a deep breath

Breathing can affect our nervous system positively or negatively. Nothing communicates stress more than short sharp breaths; comparatively taking long slow breaths communicates the idea of being safe. Breathing is the only way to consciously affect our autonomic nervous system, and can encourage relaxation, reduce cortisone (our stress hormone) and the production of insulin (our fat storage hormone). Link your breathing practise to a daily routine such as taking a shower, on your route to work or waiting for the jug to boil; this way it will quickly become a habit. Begin your breath by allowing the lower part of your stomach to rise, inhaling into the stomach and expanding out of your ribcage. Do this for 20 long, slow, breaths daily and whenever you need some time out.

ISS_5112_02400.png

2. Exercise

As the body is poised for action under the parasympathetic nervous system, exercise can be used as a tool to reduce stress. High intensity exercise can burn adrenaline however if we are feeling depleted from chronic stress, some exercise can do more harm than good. Not all exercise needs to get your heart rate pumping to be effective. Yoga and tai chi reduce stress and fatigue, and have been found effective for the prevention of disease. Taking a walk in nature can have mood elevating effects beyond exercising indoors, and will increase your Vitamin D levels for an extra boost.

dreamstime_m_2780802.png

3. Find a new favourite book

Reading acts as a distraction from the outside world; engages the mind and requires you to fully focus on someone else’s world. As little as six minutes of reading can reduce muscle tension and slow down the heart rate. An enjoyable read can give your mind a rest from everyday stress and engage your imagination. Ask friends for book recommendations and use your daily train commute or lunch break to explore someone else’s world.

ING_40492_06001.png

4. Meditation

The oldest known technique for relaxation, meditation can be defined in various ways; however above all it is a quiet practise which relaxes the mind. Studies have shown that anxiety, a major symptom of acute stress is reduced through meditation and the practise has the power to alter brain structures and modify neurochemistry. Find a quiet space to let go of all connection to your senses and conscious thoughts. You may find some thoughts particularly persistent, however use this time to acknowledge what is provoking you and then move forward.

dreamstime_m_87477517.png

5. Reduce caffeine

Over 90% of adults in the Western world consume caffeine daily with studies suggesting New Zealand’s caffeine intake has tripled since the 1960s. Caffeine is commonly used to increase alertness and functioning in times of increased demand or fatigue. Caffeine however increases cortisol production, demands more from the adrenal glands, and can deplete the body of key nutrients necessary for optimal functioning. Caffeine reduction is best done slowly to reduce withdrawals and replacement with herbal teas such as chamomile, dandelion tea or an anti-inflammatory turmeric latte can be beneficial.

03D30719.png

6. Stabilise your blood sugar

Simple carbohydrates and sugars are commonly craved during times of stress due to their tryptophan-serotonin enhancing effect that enhances the mood. Sugar is useful when energy is needed, however if you are sitting at work sugars and simple carbohydrates will lead to a blood sugar rise and subsequent crash, and the increased production of insulin, our fat storage hormone. Complex carbohydrates high in fibre such as whole grains slow down the release of blood sugar and high-protein foods may decrease cravings and provide amino acids that also regulate blood sugar. If you do have a persistent sweet craving, reach for dark chocolate. Good quality rich dark chocolate (over 70% cacao) is a source of antioxidants which help to protect your body and the high magnesium content will help to reduce tension (in moderation!).

ING_33594_170547.png

7. Supplements

Several nutritional supplements can help reduce the negative effect stress has on our body. Vitamin B supports the nervous system function and helps to manufacture neurotransmitters which influence the body’s stress response. Studies have found Fish Oil lowers adrenaline levels in healthy individuals, as well as students experiencing stress from exams. Iodine supports the adrenal glands which regulate the release of cortisol and other hormones. Furthermore, stress can deplete important minerals such as calcium, zinc and magnesium which may lead to deficiency signs such as poor wound healing, irritability and fatigue.

03E26182.png

8. Have a massage

Touch is one of the most ancient healing techniques and has been found effective in the reduction of stress. Massage is beneficial for the psychological manifestation of stress as it reduces muscle tension, increases blood flow and reduces blood pressure.

03C40575.png

9. Aromatherapy

Scents can quickly trigger physical reactions and essential oils can be used to relieve stress, relax the body and promote sleep. Nervines and nervine relaxants such as lavender, lemon balm and rosemary act on the central nervous system and can be diluted and applied to the skin, added into a bath or an oil burner.

dreamstime_m_78007659.png

10. Progressive muscular relaxation

In times of stress, our bodies automatically respond by increasing muscle tension. Progressive muscle relaxation is a great method to reverse tension and elicit relaxation. Moving sequentially from your forehead to your toes (or vice versa), consciously tense each muscle group then release (i.e. brows, cheek, jaw, neck). This controlled muscle activity interrupts the stress response by interfering with tension and provides focus.

Sometimes stress can get the better of us, however with the right tools, you can help your body to centre itself again. It is helpful to take note of your attitudes, emotions and everyday behaviours and if you notice stress is negatively impacting them, then make a change before the stress becomes overwhelming. Taking note of how stress influences you is the first step in reducing stress altogether.

Naturopathic stress reduction ideas
 
 
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