In a recent survey, 75% of respondents reported feeling high stress over the last month and that their stress levels had increased over the last year. It is the top health concern of high school students. 80% of workers felt highly stressed on the job. Half of them thought they needed help and 42% thought coworkers needed help. Those are some alarming statistics.
Diseases: Stress can contribute to quite a few diseases, either as a major cause or as something that makes the condition worse. These include heart disease, depression, anxiety disorders, asthma, obesity, diabetes and headaches. Relieving the stress could help relieve some of the problems from these diseases.
No Pill Methods of Stress Relief
Exercise: A brisk walk at lunch or a visit to the gym after work can help a great deal. There are two reasons for this. One is the release of endorphins, a hormone that gives a feeling of wellbeing. The second is to let the back of the mind work on whatever the problem is that’s causing the stress. Good ideas can come out of a workout.
Creativity: Reading, writing…even cooking can help. Creativity stimulates the brain and reduces stress. As a side benefit it can also help cognitive function and reduce problems such as dementia.
Deep Breathing: Sometimes there won’t be time enough for exercise of taking a creative break. The advice of taking a deep breath is valid. In fact, take ten of them. Inhale fully and exhale fully ten times and you might be amazed at the difference in how you feel.
Visualization: Choose something that soothes you. You can use a picture, a passage or a piece of music. Concentrate on all of your senses. My favorite is the 23rd Psalm. I feel the soft grass in the green pasture. I hear the gentle lapping of the still water. Go through the entire thing, concentrating on pleasant sensations.
Some care has to be taken when choosing herbal remedies for stress management. Some herbs can interact with medications and/or medical conditions. Talk to your doctor before trying these remedies.
Chamomile, Jasmine, Lavender and Passionflower: Together or separately these herbs can help with stress reduction and anxiety. They may also make you sleepy, so be careful about driving or doing anything that requires full concentration until you know how they will affect you.
Hops and Valerian: These are more suited for stress that causes insomnia. Hops can be used as aromatherapy in a hop pillow or in a tea. Be aware that valerian smells like used gym socks…and cats love it.
Doctor: If you can’t use the herbs and/or none of these methods help, it is wise to see your doctor. There are medications that can help and counseling may be useful. Stress can be deadly but it doesn’t have to be.