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Situations that occur in daily life may cause people to feel irritated, threatened or anxious, a set of emotions that are collectively referred to as stress. Many people become stressed when they are involved in conflicts, worried about problems or pressed for time. The body interprets these pressures as a threat to life. In response, the pituitary gland signals the adrenal glands to release adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol, hormones that prepare the body to fight or flee. As a result, muscles tense, alertness increases and heartbeat, respiration and blood pressure escalate. Though 5these effects enable the body to react quickly when faced with true danger, a body in a constant state of stress begins to lose its capacity for defense. Lack of sleep and exposure to excessive noise make coping with stress more difficult. Over time, illness (including heart disease and cancer) and mental burnout may result. Fortunately, relaxation methods, herbal remedies and water therapies can help reduce many types of stress.

A relaxing bath
A warm bath is blissfully relaxing on its own, but the effect is intensified when medicinal plants are added to the water. Either fresh herbs or essential oils can be used. For overall relaxation, try chamomile or lavender. For menopausal stress, yarrow has been found useful as a bath additive, because one of its essential oil is to relieve tension in the pelvic area. Bathe for 10-15 min.

What you can do
Relaxation is the antithesis of stress. It is therefore essential for people susceptible to stress to relax and avoid being constantly on due to the increased secretion of stress hormones. Besides using naturopathic therapies, try to make time in your day to switch off, doze and dream. Exercise is also very helpful in alleviating the effects of stress.

Eustress and distress
Stress doesn't have to be negative. A certain amount of tension is actually necessary for a productive, interesting life. After all, stress spurs us to perform. This good stress is called eustress (the greek prefix "eu" means "good"), and it invigorates the mind and body. Bad stress, on the other hand, is called distress ("dis" means "bad" in Latin), and it produces tension that harms the body and causes illness.

Yawning releases tension
Believe it or not, yawning can help you relax by stretching the muscles, increasing oxygen intake and releasing tension. Yawn loudly and stretch your arms several times a day.

Lavender helps you relax
Before drying off after a shower, place 3 drops of lavender essential oil on a damp washcloth and rub it gently over your body. The soothing active agents in the lavender oil will enter your body through your skin and nose.

Nuts soothe the nerves
Nuts are good sources of the vitamins and minerals that support your central nervous and cardiovascular systems. These include magnesium and the B vitamins. Snacking on nuts helps combat stress and increase concentration.

Extra tip : When planning a vacation, try to get away for at least 10 days. This gives you the best chance of achieving real relaxation. Shorter vacations are beneficial, but a new environment may increase stress, and the body and spirit need time to adjust to it.

Herb Mixtures

Relaxing medicinal tea
Drink this soothing tea blend when you have trouble "switching off". Mix equal parts of hawthorn blossoms, St.John's Wort, balm leaves, hop fruit, orange blossoms, lavender flowers and hibiscus blossoms. Place 1 tsp. of this mixture in a cup, add boiling water and let steep for 5-10 min.

Nightcap for sleep problems
Stress is often accompanied by difficulty in falling asleep; in turn, not getting enough sleep can exacerbate stress. A mild nightcap may help. Crush 2/3 oz. of valerian root, 2/3 oz. of lavender blossoms and 2/3 oz. of hop flowers. Place the herbs in a bottle of red wine. Let the mixture steep for 10 days and shake it daily. Drink about 4 oz. at bedtime.

Stress test

Are you susceptible to stress?

If 2 or more of the following statements apply to you, analyze your personal situation. Recognizing stress, and taking timely steps to alleviate it can protect you against the health problems it may cause.

  • You feel irritated and hurried
  • You have trouble concentrating
  • You have a hard time listening to others
  • You don't take much pleasure in things that used to be fun for you
  • You cant rest, and thoughts keep spinning through your head.

Rinse Away stress
Hydrotherapy helps reduce the accelerated heart rate that sometimes accompanies stress. Try cold water wash to help restore balance to your metabolism. When you take a shower, first let cold water run over the outside and inside of your right arm. Next, step into the spray so the water runs down your back. As you do this, make sure that the water passes over your right shoulder first, then your left shoulder. Finish with the outside and inside of your left arm.