Stress… I truly believe this one is a struggle for you, for me… and for most people living in this day & age!
Isn’t it funny that these days, the most common answer to the question “How have you been?” is generally “busy”… Rather than “Good” or even “Awesome”! (I try to answer that way as often as I can!)
But the point is… we’re all so busy & so wound up…
“OH CRAP I overslept”… “I’m running late to pick up the kids”… “I have to prepare everyone’s lunches”… “Is this traffic for real?” …”Where’s my phone??!!”
You’ve been in at least one or possibly more of these situations, right? If you haven’t, you desperately deserve some kind of award!
But the thing about each of these scenarios… is that your body sees them ALL as stress.
Now don’t get me wrong, stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in fact we relied on our stress response to keep us alive & out of harm’s way for thousands of years!
Here’s how: You’re walking along when all of a sudden, a tiger jumps out at you. Your body recognises the threat, knows your life is in danger so it starts pumping out adrenaline to get you into fight or flight mode.
This process diverts the blood away from any ‘non-essential’ functions – like digestion for example – & sends it to your arms & legs, prepping you to either run or fight for your life.
Then your body dumps a load of sugar into your blood to give a burst of energy to help you get away, sending your blood sugar sky rocketing which triggers the production of insulin (your fat storage hormone) to remove the sugar from your blood as too much sugar in the blood is toxic!
All that happens very quickly in order to get you out of a stressful situation & when this happens only every once in a while…it’s not so bad.
The big problem is today, especially in the western world – most of us live in a state of constant stress, going through this loop on a regular basis… day after day.
Maybe it’s a phone call from a private number… or an email from your boss… or some unexpected traffic… or basically anything that you weren’t expecting that sends your mind & your heart racing.
This chronic stress can have seriously damaging effects on your health. In addition to your digestion it affects your immune system, reproductive system, causes weight gain & actually speeds up the ageing process.
The good news is that there are a number of remedies out there to help with stress…& of course our favourite is with herbs!
There are lots of herbs out there that act as adaptogens…meaning they actually help your body to better deal with stress, & nerves.
Here are our top 7:
1. Tulsi (Holy Basil)
Tulsi is not only one of the most powerful anti-stress herbs ever, it also helps your body to detox chemicals & toxins, keeps your skin clear & keeps colds & flus at bay!
Basil thrives in warm weather & won’t grow in the cold. It’s usually ready to harvest in 2 months.
The roots of Ashwagandha has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for over 2000 years because of its powerful stress relieving properties. It also supports adrenal gland function, which can help with adrenal fatigue & chronic stress.
Ashwagandha root is ready to harvest in about 6 months & prefers warmer temperatures with full sun.
Passion Flower is used to help calm the nerves, treat anxiety & is often mixed with lemon balm & used to make a natural sedative. On top of reducing anxiety, Passion Flower also helps you to get to sleep & reduces inflammation.
Most varieties of Passion Flower hate frost & grow best in warm weather. They need to be kept well-watered especially during those hot days.
Ginseng is probably the most well known adaptogen in the world & studies have shown ginseng root’s incredible ability to reduce stress. It can also help to improve mood & your ability to focus.
If you plan on growing your own ginseng remember to be patient as it needs around 5-6 years before you can harvest! It grows best in cool temperate climates.
5. Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm is a member of the mint family & has been used for hundreds of years to naturally reduce stress, anxiety & improve memory. It can also bring on a more restful sleep & help the body to produce 2 incredibly important antioxidants: Glutathione & superoxide dismutase, which protect the body from oxidative stress, DNA damage & help with detoxification.
Lemon Balm is an easy to grow herb & spreads like wildfire. It’s a cool weather perennial & grows best in partial shade in temperate & sub-tropical areas.
Lavender is great for helping you to relax & to deal with day to day stress. As a little bonus, it can also bring relief from headaches.
Make sure you plant your Lavender in full sun, if it doesn’t get enough it will actually bend towards the sun to try & get more light! Keep it well watered but don’t let it get soggy.
Chamomile is another herb with a long history of medicinal use. It’s used to reduce anxiety & calm the nerves. It’s also used to give relief to children who are going through teething.
Chamomile grows best in temperate climates & doesn’t do well in heat. It thrives in full sun to part shade.
Now while they’re some of our favourites, herbs aren’t the only way reduce stress.
Here are some other things you can do to help with stress that we try to incorporate into our daily lives:
– Meditation/mindfulness practice – just 10-20 minutes a day can make a big difference!
– Exercise – Yoga is great & we also take the dogs out for a 40 minute walk every morning, this is also good for when we need to clear our heads at the end of a stressful day!
– Eating a nutrient dense, organic whole food diet!
– Mindful eating – Chewing your food slowly in order to support your digestive system & allow your body to better absorb the nutrients.
– Diaphragmatic breathing…this one is HUGE – See, breathing is the only way to get your body out of fight or flight mode & into rest & digest mode. A state where your body is able to focus on tasks other than just keeping you alive where it does things like repairing damage to the body & digesting & absorbing your food. Simply taking a couple of minutes to take 5 deep, conscious breathes, really engaging your diaphragm, in the morning…or in the evening…or whenever you feel stressed throughout the day – can make a world of difference!
I hope this list of herbs & other quick tips help you to cut back on the stress in your life!
Have an amazing (stress-free) day, speak soon!