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Stress Busters

An Aussie Mum's Guide To Eco Friendly Babies: Stress Busters

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Stress Busters

Stress is bad for you.  We all know that right?  We hear it all the time- stress raises our blood pressure, mucks around with our 'happy' hormones and shortens our life expectancy (and our fuses).  So to live longer and feel better... Don't stress!

Um.  Right.  Ok.  Don't stress?  Stress affects pretty much everyone, everywhere, most of the time.  Even those very serene looking Tibetan monks that live in mountains and pray or meditate all day probably have moments of stress.  It's one of the most common afflictions yet everyone will experience and respond to stress differently.  And it's our response to stress that counts.

When stress gets out of control it can turn into anxiety or depression, so it's important to deal with it appropriately.  You can employ relaxation techniques, lifestyle changes and diet in your stress-reducing quest, or in worse cases, use herbs or supplements until things are under control.

There are lots of different relaxation techniques and not all of them involve twisting yourself into a pretzel and chanting an Indian mantra.  Meditation can be as simple as sitting on the porch watching the trees.  My favourite is 'Mindful Meditation', where instead of having to think about nothing, you concentrate 100% on what you are doing at any given time.  Instead of washing the dishes while listening to TV, having a conversation and keeping an eye one dinner, you focus on one single task.  Concentrate on the feel of the hot water on your skin, the smell of the dish soap, the actions of your muscles as they move.  I love to do this while running on the treadmill- as you don't need to see where you are going you can pay more attention to the movement of your body, your breathing and your circulation.  Mindful Meditation can be done anywhere, any time so it's really easy to fit in.  For more info on Stress relieving relaxation, try Helpguide for some great ideas.

Exercise releases endorphins and if you go outside, it gives you a dose of Vitamin D- both are essential for mental and emotional wellbeing.  It reduces cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the body and gives you a great opportunity to focus on yourself and de-stress.  Try doing something solo like walking, running or cycling for an alternative to meditation; boxing to relieve tension and frustration; team sports to lift the spirits and socialise.  Physical fitness allows your body to better cope with the physical demands of stress and makes you feel great.

Eating right is also essential.  Certain foods increase feel-good hormones and chemicals and increase the central nervous system's ability to cope with stress.  Protein, B vitamins and Magnesium are extremely important here.  Coffee, alcohol and too much sugar has the opposite effect- they increase anxiety and heart rate and exhaust your adrenals.  Some foods like chamomile tea have a specific use in stress.

Make sure you talk it out, too.  Call your mum, your best friend, or a counselling service if you'd prefer the confidentiality.

Magnesium- relaxes muscles (great for tight shoulders), helps insomnia, essential for wellbeing.  Make sure it's organic magnesium (not mag oxide) for good absorption.  Herbs of Gold Muscle Resus is a great one or Martin and Pleasance Mag Phos for kids/instant relief
Protein- important for energy and balancing hormones and the brain chemicals responsible for mood.  Best to get it from food but you can use protein shakes like Designer Physique to up your intake.
B complex- helps the CNS cope with stress, increases energy and digestion.  Look for about 50-100mg dose. 'Executive B' formulas have herbs added to help specifically with stress.

Ginsengs- adrenal tonics that nourish and support the body in times of stress.  Great for exhaustions.  Good formulas include Fusion Energy and Ethical Nutrients Ginseng 5

Lactium- derived from milk, good for those who get 'wired' when stressed. Try Ethical Nutrients Stress & Anxiety

St. John's Wort- great from chronic stress but check for medical interactions.  Takes 4 weeks to kick in.

My favourite formula:  Fusion Stress and Anxiety.  It's great for acute or chronic stress, low mood and milk depression.  Suitable from the age of 6 or while breastfeeding.  It's a Chinese herbal formula so it works very holistically and very quickly.  It's safe to take long term and the dose is flexible so you can increase/decrease as needed.


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