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As a Naturopath I have often said to my patients ‘you must be stressed’ and too often have heard the reply ‘I don’t feel stressed’. The reason I would often make the comment in the first place is that their body was exhibiting symptoms that were synonymous with stress.
After a bit of probing I often heard ‘yes, I have been going nonstop all day every day, ‘not sleeping much’ and/or ‘I am having relationship difficulties’. Many aspects of our lives can cause an elevated amount of stress to be placed on our minds and bodies. Prolonged periods of stress may cause serious illness if not dealt with in the right way.
How do you find out if you are stressed, if you don’t ‘feel’ stressed? A headache, muscle tension or pain, fatigue, change in sex drive, stomach upset, sleep problems, anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation, irritability, overeating or undereating, just to name a few stress related symptoms that you may be exhibiting.
Sometimes stressful lifestyles cannot be helped, but instead of rushing to your can of energy drink or coffee for reprieve, we can minimise the damage it is causing by implementing a support and relief plan.
Take time out to do things that bring you happiness. Hobbies, recreation clubs, sports, arts, crafts and pampering, are ways we can include joy and release into our often monotonous lives. Make space in your calendar at least once per month for complete guilt free time for yourself.
Make time once per day to stop breathe, relax and smile- find something that helps you do just that. Even if it’s only just 15 minutes of intentional ‘you time’, it will make a difference. A calm walk with your iPod, reading a short story or meditation, a bath, a massage, or just sitting in your backyard on the grass just taking deep quiet breaths. Communicate your needs to those around you, negotiate your time, and then lock it in. You are worth it!
Support your nervous system and body with herbs and supplements that help the body deal with stress better.
Adaptogenic herbs are herbs that exert a generalised tonifying effect and a normalising influence on the body, neither over-stimulating nor inhibiting normal body function.
Examples of these herbs are Rhodiola, Shatavari, Withania and Korean Ginseng. These herbs are very helpful in preventing stress related illness by helping the body keep in its natural equilibrium. A balanced B complex is also beneficial to assist with the body's production of energy and support general wellbeing.
B vitamins provide nutritional support for the nervous system and normal production of neurotransmitters. They also are beneficial during times of increased dietary and lifestyle demand, including regular or high consumption of alcohol and strenuous exercise or activity.
Naturopath tip of the week- get a massage!
By Sarah Chambers
BHSc. (Nat), Dip.Remedial Massage, BVA