Stress is the thief that abducts our joy. It pillages our physical and mental energy leaving us weary. Stress is the intruder that lingers until you figure out ways to peacefully deal with this persistent trespasser. There are ways to ease stress with the help of nature’s medicine cabinet and a few simple, soulful practices.
We are a culture that tends to thrive on “over” mode:
- over our budget
- overly tired
Completely eliminating stress from your life is, well, nearly impossible. Unforeseen traffic jams, deadlines at work, parenting dilemmas (just to name of few of the obvious) can serve as sources of stress. You can’t eliminate your transportation, or your job, or your kids, (even though it may have crossed your mind a time or two) but you can find ways to deal with and adjust to these everyday stressors.
It’s the long term stressors that can negatively affect your adrenal system because your survival response to stress is on “over” drive. Dr. Aviva Romm explains that “when you are in a constant state of stress, the short-term beneficial responses to stress backfire which manifest in negative ways like:
- blood sugar problems
- brain fog
- sleep issues
- digestive issues
- food cravings
- frequent illness
- hormonal imbalance
- weight gain
Long term stress or a stressful lifestyle can lead to a wide range of other physical ailments (hair loss, skin issues, mouth ulcers, etc.)
Soulful and Natural Ways to Manage Stress
The practice of using adaptogens, a group of herbs that assist in helping your body “adapt, “respond, and reset during times of stress, is a part of Ayurveda medicine. Ayurveda is one of the oldest approaches to wellness. The highly prized adaptogenic herbs are
Ashwagandha provides “a sense of calm, improves mental clarity and memory, and reduces stress.”
Eleuthero “increases mental and physical stamina, lessens stress and fatigue.”
Holy Basil (also referred to as Tulsi) helps your body adapt to stress by balancing cortisol, the stress hormone.
Rhodiola is key in reducing stress. This versatile herb can “increase energy, mental and physical stamina, reduce stress and irritability.”
You can consume these herbs in capsule form, tea, or a tincture.
Aromatherapy uses high-quality essential oils to mitigate stress and promote healing and wellness. It employs the olfactory system to help navigate the healing properties of essentials oils to the central nervous system.
Ways to Use Essential Oils to Ease Stress
Diffuse- add essential oil to water to a diffuser
Massage – mix the essential oil with almond, apricot kernel, or grapeseed oil
Baths – in a container, combine the essential oil with fragrance-free Epsom salts
Topically – use essential oils or a blend of several essential oils. Follow the instructions before applying.
Nutrients and Nutrition
Prolonged stress will eventually lead to nutritional deficiencies. The body does not function well under stress. Phyllis A. Balk’s comprehensive reference book, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, asserts that “as a result of a complex of physical reactions, the body does not absorb nutrients well when under stress.”
Because the body does not absorb nutrients well when under stress, a deficiency in one or several nutrients could occur at some point. Consult your healthcare practitioner and request a blood panel to check for any deficiencies.
In the meantime, fill your plate with nutrient-dense foods. They will supply valuable vitamins and minerals.
Redesign the Flow of Your Day
Think about this, swallowing a supplement or drinking a tea is only part of the plan to ease stress. Emily P. Freeman suggests “creating space in your day for your soul to breathe.” You may need to redesign the flow of your day to incorporate time for prayer, soulful reflection, and gratitude.
Redesigning the flow of your day depends on the stage of life you are in right now. If you are a mom with a houseful of busy, curious toddlers, consider doing what Brother Lawrence did and practice the presence of God. He turned even the most menial and mundane tasks into a “living hymn to the glory of God.”
As you fold that mountain of laundry or potty train your toddler, commune with God.
AIM at carving out 10 or 15 minutes of solo time. When you take your quick hiatus, resist the temptation of checking social media. Create white space.
Maybe mid-life has you spiraling like a hormonal vortex. Step back and observe what triggers your stress. Are you over-scheduled? Pinpoint the problematic areas and decide if you can reschedule, eliminate or delegate.
I recently took a break from tutoring writing and grammar so that I could focus on my writing. I redesigned the flow of my day by making the morning my sacred time for writing. Any appointments, coffee dates or walks with friends happen happily before 9 am or after 1 pm.
Sleep, Exercise, and Silence
I used to feel guilty about snatching a 15-minute power nap until Lyme Disease entered my life. Early on in my battle with the disease, my Lyme Disease specialist asked if I was getting enough rest. Sheepishly, I admitted how good it felt to take a quick rest. She gently reprimanded me for underestimating the healing power of rest.
You can build a sleep strategy. When you plan your day, include what time you want to get to bed. Once you figure out your bedtime, then 30-45 minutes before that time, start closing down your day. Consider reading instead of checking email, social media, or watching television.
An exercise routine does not mean joining a gym or spin class. You can if you want, but that may add to your stress. It’s one more activity to cram in the already tight schedule. Instead, take a walk outside. There are plenty of outdoor venues that offer scenic paths and walkways.
Walking is an uncomplicated way to clear your head and keep stress under control. Make your walk soulful by spending time praying, reflecting, or practicing gratitude.
Not long ago, during a particularly stressful time in my life, I granted myself a Sabbath day, alone, at a local arboretum. I meandered down winding paths until I found a bench deep in the woods. The only hum of distraction came from a Mockingbird or the wind moving through the pine trees.
I welcomed the silence. For those few hours, it was a hallowed place. My Bible and journal remained closed until I inhaled enough stillness and could regain focus.
A Few Final Thoughts
Coping with stress in your life requires a thoughtful plan. Your plan should include nutritious food, supplements, sleep, exercise, and white space. You might want to evaluate your schedule and prayerfully consider making some changes that would mitigate your stress.
Remember friend, natural and soulful ways in dealing with stress should become a lifestyle, not a temporary fix.
Resources to Consider in Your Soulful Plan to Ease Stress
Note: For topics on health and wellness, I encourage you to seek the knowledge of your health care provider. All information has been added to encourage, inspire, and inform readers to make lifestyle decisions that intersect a passion for the health of the body and soul.
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