Naturopathic Tips:


Naturopathic Stress ReductionStress Part 3 - Stress Busting Tips!

Be Realistic (Not Perfectionistic)! When you put too much emphasis on making everything perfect, it really takes a toll on you - emotionally and physically. Those small details eat up time and energy, and if they're not essential, then they've got to go. Learn to set realistic goals because this helps reduce the pressure that adds to your stress levels. Also learn to say "no" when you don't have the energy to take care of yourself, much less others as well. Your body will thank you for it.

Exercise. Studies have shown that exercise is beneficial in reducing stress. It is a way of chanelling pent-up energy, and endorphins produced during activity will make you feel good. In addition, getting the blood flowing through your tense muscles will help remove toxic build-up that occurs in your tissues. Of course, there are a multitude of other health benefits to exercising regularly.

Yoga & Tai Chi. When we are stressed, our bodies are running in 'sympathetic' mode. The 'sympathetic nervous system' is the system of activity and "go go go" type mental states. Choosing to add low-key exercises such as tai chi, qi gong, or yoga to your days will help calm your mind and increase the amount of time your body spends in 'parasympathetic mode' (relaxation mode). Added flexibility from yoga will also benefit your body and reduce pain (which is stressful!). Tai Chi & Qi Gong are two forms of slow martial arts that promote proper energy circulation throughout the body.

Nutrition. Our bodies function better when they recieve better nutrition. We are what we eat, so we must remember to eat well. This is a very large topic, but some general points to remember include: cutting down/out refined sugars & caffeine, increasing water intake, eating regular & balanced meals, and avoiding processed foods. During periods of stress, vitamin B12, folic acid, and B6 have been found to be low - supplementing with these can help some syptoms of stress and avoid development of further symptoms such as numbess in the hands.

Be Aware. Learn to become more aware of your body - this is not just for stress management. The more aware you are, the earlier you can catch yourself before your state gets too extreme. Knowing when to pause for some stretches and a massage can help you avoid headaches - figuratively and literally. While working on a project, have you ever "suddenly" realized that your neck and shoulders are very tense are sore? In reality, the pain and tension are things that were building up over time, but you didn't notice them until the feelings crossed a certain "too painful" threshold. Awareness is a big step in prevention.

Deep Breathing, Meditation and Visualization. These are some of the most powerful techniques in stress reduction. Mental and emotional stress come from your mind, so it makes sense that we have to treat the mind in order to reduce the stress. Visualization is method where you envision pleasant images that have calming effects, such as a sunny beach or vacation spot that you like a lot. For some people, it is not easy to learn how to meditate, and it takes a lot of practice, but daily practice will benefit you in many ways. As an introduction to learning meditation, first start some deep breathing exercises. A very simplified explanation: Sit comfortably in a quiet room with your back straight (in a chair is ok), and close your eyes. Slowly tune out your surroundings, and become aware of your breathing - How fast is it? How deep are your breaths? Does your abdomen (tummy) expand outward when you breath in? Try to control your breathing by taking deeper breaths - push out your abdomen when you first breath in, then let the air fill your chest (upper lungs) afterwards. As you breath out, say the word "relax" to yourself. Concentrate on breathing slowly and evenly, and on pushing out your abdomen on inhalation, and tucking it in on exhalation. Focus only on your breathing and "relax", and do this for at least 5 minutes. Repeat as many times as you can/like during the day, and before you go to bed. There are many other techniques in this category, which you can discover through naturopaths, books or meditation centers/classes in your community.

Massage. This is a simple way of easing the tension and pain that you may feel in your muscles. It doesn't have to be an elaborate and expensive affair; you can massage your own shoulders, get a loved one to rub your back, or purchase a handy electric massager to have around the house. Of course, a full-body massage from an experienced practitioner is more relaxing and thorough, but you can have mini-treatments at home as well. Massage can release muscle spasms and increase circulation (as with exercise) to remove toxic build-up.

Share. Open up to a friend or a counsellor if things are bothering you too much. It does wonders for you to be able to express pent-up feelings, and takes a weight off your shoulders. Don't be afraid to talk about your feelings, and to explore ways of releasing these emotions. Pets also make wonderful confidantes!

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