Stress Management With Vitamins, Supplements, and Aromatherapy
Stress relief should always start with conscious efforts to remove or relieve the stressor. For instance, if your job is extremely stressful, and it's making you sick, the best thing you can do is actively look for a less stressful job. Also, there are things like meditation and exercise to help relieve your stress and increase the relaxation response. However, recently there have been a host of studies looking for more positive ways to integrate changes in diet, vitamin regimen, and other holistic alternative approaches to relieve stress. I'm going to summarize some of the research here.
Food, Vitamins, and Stress
There are so many schools of thought about how to get your vitamins. Of course the best way is from whole natural foods. The foods found to have an impact on stress are:
Asparagus ,beef, milk, cottage cheese/fruit, almonds, blueberries, tuna, cornflakes/crispy rice cereal
These foods are rich in B vitamins and folic acid, which have been found to help ease stress and stabilize mood. Vitamins C and E are also known to help fight free radicals created by stress, which are known to contribute to causing cancer and other diseases.If you can't get these whole foods in, or like me, you hate some things like cottage cheese and asparagus, you can get these in vitamin supplements. Research good companies (some of which we have chosen on this page) for supplying your supplements. All the research seem to point to having a good B Complex vitamin, vitamin C, and vitamin E to help with stress. They are also known to help fight inflammation internal to the body which leads to Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance.
Herbal Supplements for Stress, Depression, and Anxiety
While the FDA refuses to weigh in on the efficacy of herbs in treating illnesses and other health related applications, there are European bodies who do. A great article from livestrong.com covers some of the more effective treatments available in treating stress related illnesses like anxiety and depression.
Some noted in the article include:
Passion Flower- passion flower has been approved in the treatment of nervousness and insomnia in recommended dosages
St. John's Wort- this is commonly used to treat depression and anxiety, though you should not use in combination with other anti-depressants without consulting your doctor
Rescue Remedy- This is a well known remedy made from flower extracts, which is recommended for calming the nerves. I can personally attest to this one. It is effective. A few drops in your tea or water and you can feel yourself relax.
Aromatherapy Solutions for Stress
Aromatherapy has been proven to calm brain waves depending on the scents or essences used. You can be having an extremely stressful day, and just a little lavender oil on your wrist, held to your nose for a few brief deep breaths can instantly calm. Other essences linked to stress relief are: bergamot (no wonder I love Earl Grey Tea!!) marjoram, sandalwood, lemon, and chamomile. I think in regard to lemon, you can also use orange or grapefruit oil. I have found putting lavender on one wrist and grapefruit on the other around mid day can help you fight off the exhaustion of a stressful afternoon. A whiff of the lavender helps you relax, and then the grapefruit or other citrus oil give you the pick-me-up feeling to keep going. Don't under estimate the power of your senses to help you relieve your stress. Always buy the best oils you can afford. I have found Whole Foods has many of them, and they have testers available for you to smell. This is how I reached my preference for lavender and grapefruit oil.
Stress Relief Big Picture Approach
If you're really dedicated to relieving your stress, improving your life, and living longer without stress-related diseases (heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure), you'll need to take a big picture approach. Start out as suggested trying to remove stressors, and then slowly integrate daily practices such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, and implementing dietary or vitamin regimens which will support your efforts internally. Lastly, surround yourself with beauty...smells in the form of soothing aromatherapy, and sights such as a lovely plant near you, or artwork within site (even at work). All of these efforts will come together to make you feel more at peace, less stressed, and hopefully healthy for longer.
Mary Kirkpatrick is a digital marketing consultant, and is currently pursuing her graduate degree in Mental Health Counseling. Her website, http://www.stressandrest.com is dedicated to helping people learn how to ease their stress and change their lives.