Life is stressful. There's really no other way around it. You probably feel stress every day. It may even be one of the reasons you enjoy working out or just going for a daily walk. That time where you can burn off excess energy can aid in dealing with stress, but often times it just isn't enough.
Whether heading into the office on a Monday and face a mountain of new paperwork, or your children just tossed the pasta sauce all over the recently steamed carpet, stress is relentless. There are options out there to help you deal with this stress though.
In fact, there are a handful of great natural herbs and supplements you can add to your daily regimen to help calm your stress levels. Naturally, a supplement won't stop life from throwing stress in your direction.
However, it can help your mind process and deal with it. So here are some of our favorite natural herbs, each of which can help with the continual battle of stress.
Natural Herbs For Stress
If you've spent any kind of time in the tea section of your local grocery store, you've probably seen all sorts of chamomile tea offerings.
But what's so great about this plant?
The matricaria recutita compound found within chamomile actually binds itself to the same receptors within your brain as Valium. Naturally, it's not as strong as the drug, nor will it affect your personality as such, but it will help reduce the negative signals sent out from your brain. If at all possible, try to go with fresh chamomile tea.
The dried options offered in tea bags and sold by the box has lost some of its potency over the months sitting on shelves. Instead, go for the fresh tea mixtures. You can find these at your local health food store. Some grocery chains also sell produce tea (such as Safeway), or you can visit a specialty tea shop. Just make sure you go through the rest of this list first, because you'll find a few more ingredients common in fresh teas.
No, this doesn't mean you should run out to the store and buy that double-imperial IPA you've had your eye on with the 90 IBU rating. Plenty of other people turn to alcohol for their stress and not only does it compound the problem, but it increases their health problems as well. There is an oil found in the hop plant which has sedative compounds to it.
So yes, it likely will make you sleepy. If you're in need of a natural sleep remedy, this may be exactly what you're looking for. The oil is sold in an extract aromatherapy form (you can add the oil into teas, but much like the beers, this oil will be very bitter). It is important to note you should not take hop extract if you are on any kind of prescription sedative or tranquilizer.
Like we said, you'd find more tea options that help reduce stress levels. The amino acid compound L-theanine is found in green tea and can help you relax. This aminio acid helps reduce high blood pressure and lower your heart rate. By doing this, it helps calm your stress levels and cut down on anxiety. Now, you will need to drink green tea throughout the day.
If you suffer from anxiety, the Journal of Functional Food (published in Science Direct, 2011) recommends 200 mg of L-theanine, which may take anywhere from five to 20 cups of green tea. Naturally you don't want to suck down 20 cups of green tea a day (although there are plenty of health benefits, so if you want to keep on guzzling green tea we won't stop you), so you have one of two options.
First, go with the fresh green tea. Fresh green tea has higher levels of the amino acid in it. This way, you'll only need to drink the five cups (which is about eight ounces, so just fill a 40 ounce thermos and drink throughout the day). The second option is to add a green tea L-theanine supplement to your daily regimen.
There's a reason lavender is in seemingly everything related to stress relieving. From teas to shampoos and candles, you'll find it all over the place. In fact, according to a University of Florida study, students who breathed oxygen mixed with lavender oil scent were less anxious going into an exam.
There is also a lavender pill sold in Germany (it is not for sale or available in the United States) that helps those suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It is classified within the same medication description as Valium, although this medication is derived almost completely from the plant, unlike Valium which is more chemically based. You don't need to travel over to Europe to pick up the medication though. Just consider adding it to a tea or even picking up an aromatherapy oil containing lavender.
In the world of stress relief, lemon balm is as old as it gets. In fact, it has been used since the Middle Ages as a way to combat stress and to help reduce anxiety levels. It is possible to mix the lemon balm plant in with tea or to pick up supplements. There's one thing you need to keep in mind though. It is possible to go overboard with lemon balm. Eventually, if you take too much lemon balm may increase your anxiety level.
How much is too much?
It differs from person to person, and the more your body becomes accustomed to lemon balm the more it can accept. Due to this, it is a good idea to start with the smallest amount of lemon balm and work your way up. Additionally, you should take lemon balm on its own until you figure out the desired amount for your body. This way, you know what's causing your stress reduction and what may be leading to an increase in anxiety.
This is another natural herb that, while it can help with your level of stress (the German government has actually approved it to assist in reducing nervous restlessness), you can take too much. It is in fact a natural sedative, and it will make you sleepy. So if you decide to give passionflower a chance, don't take it if you already are on another prescription sedative.
Additionally, you shouldn't combine these with other natural sedatives, or take it for long periods of time. You can develop a dependence on passionflower, so use it either in very specific situations, or take it for a few weeks and then stop for another few weeks (you can alternate it with hops as a natural sedative).
Have you been taking your fish oil supplement? What about the flax seed supplement?
Well, it's time to start adding the supplements to your diet. There are all sorts of health benefits attributed to Omega-3 fatty acids, including reducing your anxiety and stress levels. The thing with the fatty acids though is it doesn't happen overnight.
According to recent research, students who took at least 2.5 milligrams of Omega-3 fatty acids for three months experienced a drop off in their day to day anxiety. In reality, you should be taking an Omega-3 supplement already. If you're not, this is just another reason to do so.
Don't worry, if you've never heard of this before you're not alone. If you've ever visited Hawai'i and visited some of the gift shops, you may recall coming across a tannish, powdery like substance that, as the packaging states, "makes you mellow." The sales staff may have even said that you should pack it in your checked baggage but mellows you out more than marijuana. Well, that's a bit of a stretch and more sales pitch than anything else, but it is one of the best known anti-anxiety herbs out there (and you don't need to pick up a medicinal marijuana card for it).
Using kava kava may cause you to feel sleepy or drowsy, so make sure you test it out at home to see how your body reacts to it. This is something you consume like a tea, although be warned that it doesn't have that great of a taste (kind of tastes like you're drinking water that filtered through mud) and your mouth will also likely go numb a bit. But many swear by kava kava, so feel free to give it a trial run.
So perhaps that holiday cheer doesn't come from family, friends and gift giving, but instead the nutmeg you dash out on top of eggnog?
Nutmeg has been used for hundreds of years in folk medicine as a way to reduce anxiety levels. It is a relaxant (although nowhere near kava kava or passionflower).
Consider making a tea with some nutmeg in it, or look for food recipes that contain nutmeg. It's a great way to add some interesting new flavors into your cooking while assisting with your anxiety and stress levels as well.
Much like the Omega-3s, here is another vitamin you should include in your daily diet. Yes, it does help with your stress level by lowering your blood pressure.
However, it also helps reduce muscle soreness while improving your heart rate. It's just one of those all natural ingredients you need to make sure you're getting enough of on a daily basis.
Yes, this is one of those words you feared receiving during a spelling bee back in grade school. But it's a great option if you suffer from stress. It has been used throughout the world as a way to sooth a mind that won't stop running in circles for thousands of years.
The herb helps the mind accept change easier. This way, you don't react as negatively when a sudden alteration occurs in your life. If you decide to head out to the natural food store and look for this product, it may also be listed under the name of "winter cherry" on account of ashwagandha blooms looking a bit like red cherry tomatoes.
This herb is native to India and has been used for several hundred years in Indian culture to treat anxiety. The herb helps increase the level of serotonin produced by the brain, which helps aid relaxation While not directly an herb, it is a part of your diet you can control, so we wanted to cover it. Your diet directly relates to stress levels.
We won't get into all the kinds of food you should consume for a healthy lifestyle. However, eating heavily processed foods that are high in vegetable oils and sugars do go a long way in boosting your stress levels.
These foods cause an elevated heart rate, which increases blood pressure, both of which are major culprits in anxiety and stress.
So, beyond adding some of these different herbs and supplements into your diet, you need to also focus on cutting out the unhealthy elements of your diet as well. This way, the two sides put together can go a long way in boosting your mood, cutting anxiety levels, and help you deal with stress.
Life will never stop coming at you full force. That means stress will never stop coming at you full force. However, you don't need to just sit back and take it. By adding these natural herbs and supplements to your daily diet, you'll start to see a reduction in your stress levels.
You'll begin to handle situations better than you have in the past, which in turn will help you enjoy life that much more. So stop letting stress dictate your life!
Now is the time for you to take it by the horns and tell it who's boss, all without a prescription or doctor intervention.