Stress may afflict everyone at some stage in one’s life and we all need to know how best to cope with it. There are different types and causes of stress:
- A SHORT TERM STRESS (or ACUTE STRESS) is the body’s reaction to an immediate threat, such as a divorce or separation, unemployment, monies worries, moving house, pressure at school or work or a looming deadline. This type of stress is not dangerous; this is part of our life and, somehow, we are designed to cope with it. Our body responses to stressful situations, because it has to maintain stability (homeostasis) and releases hormones (such as cortisone and adrenaline) to help us to cope with stress. The result is surface blood vessels constrict, heart rate and blood pressure rise, breathing is stimulated, muscles activity increases, sweat is released, pupils contract, the mouth becomes dry and blood clots faster. The main effects of this type of stress are:
a. not being able to sleep,
b. poor concentration,
c. increased irritability and fatigue,
d. smoking and drinking more,
e. inability to make decisions and to relax,
f. heart’s palpitations,
g. dry mouth,
h. tremor of hands,
i. hair loss,
j. breathing problems,
k. digestive disorders and heartburn,
l. skin problems,
m. back, shoulders and neck pain,
A LONG TERM STRESS (or CHRONIC STRESS) is a different problem. It may lead to severe physical or psychological damage to our body, such as heart diseases, cancer, diabetes, depression, obesity, anorexia nervosa, memory loss, angina, high blood pressure and stroke. With long-term stress the body becomes vulnerable to infections, such as colds and flu, suffers from digestive problems, such as constipation or diarrhoea, IBS and peptic ulcers. If the stressed person has also any type of chronic diseases, such as arthritis, which stress may worsen it.
So, with all the above in mind, it is important to be able to manage stress, in order to avoid harmful and long-term effects to our body.
Some of the strategies that can help us in stressful situations are learning to be more assertive, avoid unnecessary competition, sharing responsibilities at work and at home, taking regular exercise, not use any drugs to cope with stress (because they may cause addiction after a short period of taking them). It is also important to eat healthy, by adopting a balanced high protein diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, including food rich in potassium (such as bananas) in magnesium (such as nuts, soya beans, flour, cocoa, seafood) and zinc (such as whole grain flour, brewer’s yeast, brown rice, beans, dried fruits, onion and garlic).
Also, do not be afraid to share your thoughts with family and friends; try to relax by listening to music you like or getting a hobby; set priorities and try to identify the source and cause of stress. Some of the treatments to help us relax and cope with stress are practicing yoga, meditation, massage, aromatherapy, etc.
Herbal remedies can help us cope with any kind of stress. However, before taking any herbal medicine to fight stress, it is important to consult an expert herbalist, because self medication can lead in lots of complications that could otherwise be easily avoided. It is important that herbal medicines are prepared by an expert herbalist, in the right quantity for the patient, taking into consideration the patient’s constitution and medical history (and any other medicines he/she may be taking) in order to avoid any negative reactions between medicines.
Some INFUSIONS of dried herbs that may help with stress are as follows:
• Lemon balm
• St. John’s Wort
• Passion flower
• Vitamins C, A, D, E
• Vitamins B-complex, B6, B12
Star foods with calming effect on the Nervous system are oily fish, all green vegetables and cooking herbs, beetroot, cabbage, cucumber, legumes, nuts, and seeds, dried fruit, oats, bananas, peaches, quinces.
EXAMPLE MENU for people suffering from anxiety, depression, headaches, poor concentration, insomnia:
Breakfast: a bowl of porridge made with water; add black currants and a teaspoon of honey; a cup of herbal tea with lemon balm or fennel seeds; a banana and a glass of carrots and celery juice.
Morning Snack: a handful of raisins, some dried apricots with almonds; an orange or grapefruit.
Lunch: rice with lentils; a homemade hamburger with fresh green salad; a fruit; dandelion coffee.
Afternoon snack: some dried figs and walnuts; a glass of grape juice.
Dinner: salmon, smoked or grilled, with cabbage salad and mashed potatoes; a fruit, apple or avocado or peach or banana; an herbal infusion, chamomile or lime flowers.
All the above is for information only and is not intended as a replacement for professional medical treatment and advice.
ANTIQUE APOTHECARY® Herbalists do not diagnose disease, but we work with herbs and nutritional healing to support health and to improve your life’s quality. All the information presented herein by ANTIQUE APOTHECARY® is intended for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases.
© ANTIQUE APOTHECARY®, 2013. All rights reserved.