The holiday season can be a stressful time for many – more commitments, more shopping, more socializing, more cooking, etc. However, not all stress is bad. In fact, stress can be a good thing, because without it we can’t learn and grow as we move through life.
It is how you respond to the stress that will determine if the stress affects you in a negative way. (To learn more about the long-term affects of stress on your adrenal glands, click here.)
It is not so much about removing the stress, but rather how you decide to react to the stress you have. It is a matter of changing your mind-set. Easy to say, I know, but not always easy to put into place.
As you learn “let it go” and “go with the flow,” here are six tips for de-stressing and creating a routine of relaxation.
1 – Deep Breathing – This is one of the easiest and most rewarding of exercises. Doing regular deep breathing calms your nervous system, gives you extra energy, and boosts your brain power. (Did you know your brain uses 20 percent of all the oxygen you breath in?) For example, covering your right nostril and slowly breathing through the left one for 5 minutes can lower your blood pressure and reduce anxiety. You can also alternate breathing though each nostril. If you are familiar with yoga, doing the “cat cow” and sun salutations are good for this as well.
2 – Epsom Salt Baths – Epsom salt, also known as magnesium sulfate, is very helpful to calm the nervous system. Known as the relaxation mineral, magnesium is readily absorbed in the skin and can be an especially good relaxer right before bed. You can use 1 to 2 cups of Epsom salt in filtered bath water (no soap) and soak for 20 minutes. (If you find your are itchy after patting dry, take a quick rinse in the shower before drying off.)
An extra bonus is that an Epsom salt bath gently detoxifies the body, which helps to reduce the stress at an even deeper level. If taking a bath seems too time consuming, soak your feet in an Epsom salt foot bath instead. Close your eyes and relax, pray, meditate, or read a good book.
3 – Sun Bathe – Yes, I know the weather is cold for most of you, but you can bundle up. Sitting, standing, or walking in the sun for 15 to 20 minutes a day can revitalize you. It helps your body create Vitamin D, which is good for the immune system, and build up stores of sulfate, which is needed for both good sleep and detoxification. Sunlight also travels through the eyes to the brain where it stimulates the hypothalamus, which is responsible for regulating a variety of bodily functions.
4 – Soothing Drink – If you drink herbal tea, chamomile is known for its calming effects. (For additional herbal tea options, click here.) However, did you know that drinking grass-fed gelatin in warm water (or other warm liquid) also helps. It provides the amino acid glycine, which calms the body. You can also use hydrolyzed collagen mixed in a cold liquid. Both have little to no flavor.
5 – Essential Oils – When you inhale an essential oil, it travels directly to the brain, where it can have a direct effect on the centers that control feelings of stress and anxiety. The essential oils most known for their calming effect include lavender, cedarwood, rose, lemon grass, jasmine, and sandalwood. Be sure to use a high quality organic essential oil.
Although you can use a diffuser to disperse the aroma, you can just as easily put 1 or 2 drops on your hands then rub them together and breath in. Or, add a few drops on a handkerchief or cotton pad that you can take with you and smell throughout the day. You can also add a couple of drops of oil to the Epsom salt bath described above.
6 – Self Massage – Giving yourself a massage may not sound that relaxing but deeply rubbing the bottom of your feet does help. Each part of your foot represents a different part of your body so you are helping more than your feet. The same thing happens when you use a “digit fidget.” It too massages your whole body as I explain in more detail here.
If you are finding yourself stressed and doing too much, consider implementing one or more of the suggestions above. Saying “no” to a few things may also be necessary. And, of course a daily practice of prayer and/or meditation also goes goes a long way to reducing stress.
You may recognize a pattern in the above suggestions: many of the same things that de-stresses the body also helps the body gently detoxify. In fact, removing toxins from the body helps the body to relax at the cellular level, which in turn helps your whole body to de-stress. Relaxation then occurs at a deeper level.
Since we are each unique, you may find that one of the suggestions above does more for you than another. Even one essential oil may work better than another. Use the techniques that give you the biggest impact so you are more likely to keep doing it.