The holiday season is upon us, which means more celebrations, sugary treats, booze, and late nights. It can also mean preparing for the perfect holiday or dealing with the colds and flus that come with dropping temperatures. As wonderful as this time of year is, it can also be very stressful! If managing stress is already on your resolution list, get a head start by using these simple self-care actions to help your body adapt to stress.
Personally, I’m familiar with the impact of stress on your quality of life. One of the main reasons I became a nutritionist and healer is because in my mid 20’s I was diagnosed with a stress disorder. It led to some serious health issues, which is why I made stress relief one of my top priorities. Now, I love sharing what I’ve learned with others.
Before diving into the good stuff, remember that these remedies are for mild stress. If you are experiencing depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts it is best to reach out to a licensed psychotherapist or other healthcare provider.
1. Essential oils
Essential oils are my go to quick remedy, as they have been used for over 5,000 years in many cultures, can be used almost anywhere, have been researched, and smell fantastic. There are so many ways to use oils: you can get diffusers for your home or office (electronic or diffuser sticks), for your car (hello rush hour traffic), make lotions, or even add oils to your bath.
Rosemary and lavender are my first choice to help reduce stress. Some studies suggest that aroma therapy use of rosemary and lavender oil can help decrease some measurements of stress in the body when used for at least 5 minutes.
When I’m having a stressful day or have a public speaking engagement. I like to use lavender as aroma therapy. Please note it is not recommended to apply many essential oils directly to the skin, especially rosemary as it is a “hot” oil and can burn sensitive skin. You should discuss specific usage methods for essential oils with your healthcare provider.
2. Kundalini yoga
Another practice that has been around for over 5,000 years is Kundalini yoga. Simply put, Kundalini yoga is a series of breath work, meditation, and poses used by many people to help with stress, anxiety, and overall wellness. In a recent study Garcia-Sesnich et al, (2017) concluded that KY significantly reduced salivary cortisol levels, and perceived stress after 3 months of practice. A recent preliminary randomized control trial found that participants showed greater changes in sleep, positive affect, perceived stress, anxiety, stress, and resilience than those that did not participate in Kundalini yoga. Don’t worry if you are not flexible or at your peak fitness level – this kind of yoga is done mostly sitting and has a greater focus on the breath and getting into a meditative state than other kinds of yoga. You’ll have to work on your handstands and crow pose in another class!
One of my all-time favorite options is meditation in general, and I’m a big fan of Mindfulness Meditations I suggest this practice to nearly all my clients. A 2018 systemic review described 23 studies: 22 found positive outcomes on the effects of MBSR (a specific kind of practice), noting reduced levels of emotional exhaustion (a dimension of burnout), stress, , and occupational stress. Improvements were found in terms of mindfulness, personal accomplishment (a dimension of burnout), (occupational) self-compassion, quality of sleep, and relaxation.
This method has been used by medical professionals to help everyone from medical students to cancer patients to nurses, the workplace and PTSD survivors.
Participants in the 8-week course, including one, two and a half hour sessions per week plus a home practice showed positive results in factors related to emotion and stress. Woah!
Although I personally loved taking the course, the best thing about meditation is that it is FREE and studies suggest it can have positive results. Starting this practice is the 2nd best action I’ve taken for my health after switching to a whole food plant-based diet.
4. Ancient Herbs and Botanicals
For thousands of years, ancient cultures and practices, such as Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, have promoted the belief that botanicals can help with stress. More recently, a category of these herbs traditionally considered to be adaptogens, have been trending in health and wellness and have raised the interest of researchers, too. They are believed to work by increasing the state of non-specific resistance in the stress response and decrease sensitivity to stressors, which results in stress protection, and prolong the phase of resistance; instead of exhaustion, a higher level of equilibrium is attained. In other words, adaptogens may help your body handle stress better in the phase of resistance and may result in less harsh consequences during the phase of exhaustion.
Some studies suggest that some botanical compounds can help with focus during times of stress and fatigue, particularly during mental exhaustion.
Now don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean you can take a bunch of herbs and then put your body through the ringer mentally or physically. It is always about finding that proper balance, and letting food help you where it can while you get back to homeostasis.
If you are looking for ways to get more traditional botanicals your diet look no further! Vega One® Organic Botanical Blends include extracts of ashwagandha and reishi.
Botanical Blends features the same nutrient density of Vega One®, including:
• USDA Certified Organic
• 20g plant-based protein
• 50% DV of 8 vitamins
• 4g fiber
• 500mg Omega-3 ALA
• Probiotics – 2 billion CFU Bacillus coagulans
• No added sugar
PLUS Ashwagandha extract in a Turmeric Coconut flavor or Reishi extract in Spiced Chai flavor.
Have you tried any of these 4 methods of stress reduction? Or which one sounds the most appealing to you?