I am a great believer in holistic health, so to stay well we need to take account of the full range of factors that can influence our health.
The philosophy of holistic health recognises that the body and mind are interrelated and if one is out of balance, it can affect the other. Where it’s not possible to avoid stress entirely, there are some ways to restore our equilibrium that don’t involve stimulants or medical intervention.
A demanding job, too many personal commitments and a polluted environment are just some factors that can out us at risk of stress and affect our health and well-being. Try these earth-wise and green remedies to counter the effects of stress.
- Laugh more. I know it sounds like a cliche, but laughter really is the best medicine. It disrupts negative thoughts, boosts the immune system, relaxes the muscles and stimulates the release of feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins.
- Move vigorously. Aerobic activity help metabolise the stress hormones created when we are angry or tense. If you exercise outdoors fresh air and sunshine can also improve your mood.
- Practise breathing properly. When we are tense we don’t breathe deeply enough, and the shallow breaths we take contribute to our feeling of anxiety. Try taking one breath every 6 seconds or 10 breaths a minute. Do this twice a day, 10 minutes per session, and it will become a healthy habit.
- Avoid the triggers that lead to stressful situations. If, for example, you find crowds difficult to cope with, rearrange your timetable to avoid travelling during rush hour.
- Rethink your medications. Often the things that you take to reduce stress may be having the opposite effect. Sleeping pills, for example, can produce a next-day “hangover” effect, and some high blood pressure and cough syrups can have unexpected side effects such as poor sleep.
Sometimes life is to busy it’s hard to notice when stress is affecting our health. If you have any of these symptoms, nature is telling you it’s time to take action.
- Insomnia or restless sleep
- Headaches or backaches
- Frequent colds and sore throats
- General feeling of fatigue
- Skin problems
- Mood swings
- Stomach and digestive upsets
- Increased reliance on alcohol or pills to help sleep.
Gardening is a good therapy – the pleasure of being outside in the sun and fresh air can be an effective mood-lifter.