It is part of our lives and sometimes unavoidable, but chronic stress is particularly damaging to the body, mind, and spirit over time. I have found some simple yet effective ways to manage or at least minimize stress…
Lavender is an amazing essential oil with so many uses, but it’s particularly helpful with managing stress. During times of acute stress, I have a lavender and Epsom salt bath in the evening before bed to wind down and regroup. The lavender is especially relaxing to breathe from the steam of the warm water, and the salts help to boost your body’s magnesium levels as it is absorbed through the skin. And for a quick, on-the-go fix, I keep a small bottle of lavender oil in my purse to take a whiff of when I feel overwhelmed. Easy!
Health Canada estimates that 47.2% of Canadians are deficient in magnesium, although the actual number is believed to be much higher. Magnesium Glycinate in chelated (meaning bound to another molecule to enhance absorption) supplement form tends to provide the highest levels of absorption and bioavailability. It is considered the “anti-stress” mineral and acts as a natural tranquilizer as it relaxes skeletal muscles and smooths the muscles of the blood vessels. Please note: to function optimally, magnesium must be balanced in the body with calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium chloride.
Go outside without your shoes! Have you ever noticed you feel better when you walk barefoot on the Earth, whether it’s a sandy beach or grassy area? This scientifically researched practice is often called “earthing” or “grounding”. Studies are showing how drawing electrons from the Earth improves overall health including reducing stress, improving sleep, boosting immunity, moderating heart rate variability, and improving glucose regulation. Wow!
Breathe. Although it’s an automatic function in the body, and we don’t have to consciously think about doing it, often in times of anxiety we tend to take short, shallow, and quick breaths. This is called “over breathing”. This kind of breathing can actually make you feel even more anxious due to a racing heart, dizziness, and headaches. Calm breathing is a great portable tool to use when you are feeling stressed, but it does take some practice. Here is a technique I have found helpful:
1. Take a slow breath in through the nose, breathing into your lower belly (for about 4 seconds)
2. Hold your breath for 1 or 2 seconds
3. Exhale slowly through the mouth (for about 4 seconds)
4. Wait a few seconds before taking another breath. About 6-8 breathing cycles per minute is helpful for anxiety, but it’s important to find our own comfortable pace.