* Stress is the disruption to the body’s natural balance and may occur as an acute attack, such as that which occurs after a shock, or stress may recur on a prolonged basis. * Prolonged stress may lead to a depressed or weakened immune system leaving the body prone to illness or it may even exacerbate an existing condition such as heart disease or cancer. * Stress is thought to be a psychological problem however it has a real effect on the body and can cause problems such as muscle tension, digestive problems, changes in blood pressure and heart beat, nutrient deficiency and increased metabolism.
* Stress can be caused by illness, emotional, environmental, physical and mental stimulus.
* Symptoms of stress may include but are not limited to irritability, depression, mood swings, headaches, fatigue, low self esteem, being in a constant state of alert, memory problems, tooth grinding, sleep problems and digestive problems.
* Take time out to relax, enjoy or find the meaning to life. Avoid overworking.
* Avoid stressful situations if possible, but try and deal with the situation if it occurs by expressing your emotions, feelings or tears. Do not bottle up your feelings.
* Quit Smoking – smoking may help you to cope mentally however it increases the stress levels of the body on a physical level and may actually exacerbate your stress problems. See smoking for information of quitting.
* Avoid alcohol, caffeine and recreational drugs, as these are so-called ‘quick fix’ solutions that do not provide solutions at all. It is worth remembering that no matter how many drugs you take in, your problems will not go away until you deal with them.
* Have food allergies diagnosed and treated accordingly.
* Exercise – regular exercise not only helps to improve the health of the body, but it also causes the body to release endorphins, which are natural antidepressants. Walking, cycling, swimming and aqua aerobics are good low impact exercises that may help with stress related disorders.
* Stress Management – the mind has a powerful effect over the health of the body and daily activities including yoga, meditation and breathing exercises may help you to cope with stress or to even deal with the stress stimulus in such a way that it has a positive effect on your life.
* Get adequate sleep.
* Dietary Changes – that may help with stress include: – Eat smaller meals to avoid indigestion. – Eliminate animal flesh products. Avoid fatty foods, processed foods, dairy products, caffeine products, junk food, white flour, artificial sweeteners and soft drinks as these foods place stress on the body. – Eat plenty of complex carbohydrates as these will help prevent blood sugar swings. Take in plenty of nutritious foods, as nutrition needs may be increased by stress.
Treatments for stress:
* There are many natural therapies that can help you to cope with or reduce your stress levels such as acupuncture, acupressure, yoga, meditation, aromatherapy, cognitive therapy, breathing exercises, tai chi, massage and reflexology. It is recommended that the best treatment for stress is to recognize or have diagnosed the cause of stress and treat it accordingly.
VITAMIN B5 – PANTOTHENIC ACID – An anti-stress vitamin that helps the immune system and metabolism, supports the adrenal glands (which are affected by stress), improves energy levels, helps digestion and is used for depression and anxiety. Natural sources of vitamin B5 include legumes, whole rye flour, wheat, royal jelly, nuts, torula and brewer’s yeast, fresh vegetables and mushrooms. 500 mg daily may help with symptoms of stress.
CALCIUM – levels can be depleted by stress and may need replacing. Natural sources of calcium include dairy food, brewer’s yeast, lemongrass, blackstrap molasses. Chamomile, dandelion, alfalfa, soy products, sesame seeds, prunes, oats, carob, peppermint, flaxseed and horsetail. 1,500 – 2,000 mg daily in divided doses may help. Consult your physician before taking calcium supplements if you have a kidney disorder or are taking a calcium channel blocker for a heart disorder or hypertension.
MAGNESIUM – stress may cause a deficiency of magnesium, which helps with the absorption of calcium and potassium. Natural sources of magnesium include bananas, green leafy vegetables, lemongrass, peppermint, brewer’s and torula yeast, brown rice, apples, blackstrap molasses, sesame seeds, soy products, horsetail, peppermint, garlic, seaweed – dulse and kelp, parsley and grapefruit. 1,000 mg daily in divided doses may help. High doses of magnesium may cause diarrhea. Consult your physician before taking magnesium supplementation if you have kidney disease.
ZINC – an antioxidant that supports the immune system, which may become depressed from prolonged stress. Natural sources of zinc include torula and brewer’s yeast, alfalfa, fennel seed, seaweed – dulse and kelp, soybeans and lecithin, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, legumes, parsley, chamomile, pecans and lima beans. 50 mg daily of zinc gluconate lozenges may help with symptoms of stress. Excess zinc intake may cause copper deficiency. For prolonged periods of zinc intake, copper is recommended ie: 30 mg zinc with 2 mg of copper. Do not use more than 100 mg daily as excess zinc may depress the immune system.
BERGAMOT – essential oil. Used for depression and stress in a burner – add 6 drops to a deep dish ceramic burner, filled with filtered water. Bergamot is also used in carrier oil and massaged onto the body. Essential oil should equal three percent of total oil content. A blend of bergamot, sweet orange and clary sage may also be used in massage oil or in a warm bath. Add essential oil to the bath after the water has been drawn and agitate the water before getting in. Do not apply before exposure to the sun. Do not use clary sage if pregnant or if drinking alcohol.
BILBERRY – helps to protect cells from damage, and is used for stress and anxiety. Use according to label instructions. * Catnip – a stress reliever that helps with digestion and sleep. Use according to label instructions.
CHAMOMILE MATRICARIA, GERMAN CHAMOMILE, ROMAN CHAMOMILE. – helps with sleeping problems, has a calming effect and helps with digestion and pain. Chamomile is a traditional remedy for stress. Do not used for a prolonged period or if allergic to ragweed.
CLARY SAGE – essential oil. Used for stress and tension in a burner or massage oil. Add six drops to a deep dish ceramic burner, filled with filtered water or add to carrier oil and massage onto the body. Essential oil should equal three percent of total oil content. Do not use if pregnant or if drinking alcohol.
GINKGO, MAIDENHAIR TREE – improves circulation and helps the brain to function normally and is used for depression. Use according to label instructions. Take for at least two weeks for maximum benefit.
GRAPEFRUIT – essential oil. Used in a bath, burner or massage oil for depression and stress. Add six drops to a deep dish ceramic burner, filled with filtered water or add to carrier oil and massage onto the body. Essential oil should equal three percent of total oil content. Draw warm water for a bath, add six to ten drops and agitate the water before getting in. Soak for at least ten minutes.
KAVA KAVA – a mild sedative that helps with sleeping problems, stress, anxiety and depression. Use according to label instructions.
VALERIAN – a traditional remedy for stress, anxiety and insomnia that has a mild sedative effect and improves circulation. Use according to label instructions. Do not use alcohol while taking valerian.