Essential OilsThe first thing I think of when it comes to trying to relax are my essential oils. I choose to get mine from Piping Rock as I find they are good quality and they`re affordable. When used properly, the power of essential oils lies in their ability to deliver the beneficial healing properties of certain plants in a direct and highly concentrated form. The healing applications of essential oils are many, from antibacterial defense to pain relief and emotional therapy, depending on the type of oil. From a scientific perspective, oils are effective because 50 million smell receptors inside the nasal cavity connect to the brain`s Limbic System - an area responsible for emotions, memory and sexual arousal. From a human perspective, they simply smell nice and make us feel better. Whether improving mood or overall health, a winning strategy begins with stress reduction. For the physical body, that interprets stress as pain, these five essential oils know just where it hurts:
#1 LavenderEasily the most popular of all essential oils, lavender is known as the "universal oil." With its calming, earthy, lightly sweet and freshly floral scent, it is widely beloved for its relaxing and balancing effects on both the physical and emotional bodies. It may also be used as a pain reliever for muscles and joints, or as an antiseptic on minor cuts, burns, bug bites and stings.
#2 FrankincenseWith its comforting warm, exotic aroma, Frankincense`s most common use is stress relief; however, it may also be applied topically to the skin to rejuvenate cells and repair scar tissue, or used to calm certain respiratory conditions such as asthma, coughing and bronchitis.
#3 RoseAnother highly versatile essential oil, this one may be even more costly than most, due to its labor-intensive extraction process, which requires 60,000 roses for every one ounce of rose oil. In addition to providing relief from both stress and depression, the many uses of rose oil include the treatment of eczema and menopausal symptoms.
#4 Chamomile (or Chamomile Lavender)Though both the Roman and German types of chamomile essential oils are well suited for calming the nerves and supporting digestive health, there are some important differences between the two. Where the Roman variety is superior in addressing mental anxiety, paranoia and hostility, the German variety excels more in the treatment of irritated skin.
#5 VanillaIf the pure scent of warm vanilla makes you feel right at home, some aromatherapists say it is because vanilla is the closest in fragrance and flavor to mothers` milk. With the ability to both soothe in tranquil relaxation and stimulate mental clarity, this rich aroma can vary in its therapeutic effects. Vanilla essential oil has also proven effective in relieving upset stomachs and reducing cravings for sweets.
(Don`t forget the diffuser!!)
Hot TeaThe second thing that comes to mind for relieving stress is a nice hot cup of tea. In the Asian mountain regions of Asia, teas have been used for millennia to help with relaxation, in rituals (like spiritual and religious ceremonies), for nourishment and as healing medicine. The following teas are all wonderful for helping your body process stress, relax, and heal from the depletion that can occur as a result of long-term stressors.
#2 AshwagandhaAn herbal medicine grown in Africa, the Mediterranean and India, ashwanganda (Withania somnifera) is an adaptogen. This class of herb helps the body fight stress by reducing the production of stress hormones that result in the fight-or-flight response. This adaptogenic quality can help the body relax and help the body stay strong. It also is a potent antioxidant as well. This Indian herbal ashwaganda contains a chemical called ashwagandholine alkaloid which has a mild relaxant, tranquilizer like-effect on the central nervous system making it is delicious to take before bed! We suggest mixing about 1 cup of boiling milk (cow, almond, rice, soy or oat milk) with a half-teaspoon of the powdered herb or the dried leaves. Let the mixture steep for about 15 minutes and cool. Strain and then drink. Ashwanganda is best for people who are nervous and exhausted after having undergone a lot of physical and emotional stressors. It’s also excellent at bedtime for people who have insomnia. It can be used as an immune stimulant in patients with low white blood cell counts, so people who recently have undergone the stress of radiation or chemotherapy would do well drinking the tea during the day to rejuvenate their body.
#4 HawthorneOriginating in Europe and England, Hawthorne (Cratageus) has both a calming and nourishing effect on the cardiovascular system. It can have a special gentle relaxant effect on the vascular system in people that have higher blood pressures due to a lot of stress hormones. Hawthorne contains healthy plant chemicals called flavonoids that help keep the blood vessels strong. It may also balance total cholesterol, triglycerides, and bad (LDL) cholesterol as well. Some studies also showed it may even help in congestive heart failure (CHF), a type of heart disease where the heart is working very poorly. The most appropriate person for this tea would be someone who has demonstrated heart and cardiovascular problems and is under a lot of stress. You can use it as a tea by itself or with other calming herbs like chamomile. Stronger versions of this herb can be dosed as a liquid tincture or as an extract, a thicker and more concentrated form.
YogaMany studies have found that a little yoga in the morning, at night, or even on a lunch break, can minimize stress and increase productivity. It is believed that yoga is so effective for stress relief because, aside from the physical benefits that yoga brings, it encourages a good mood, an increase in mindfulness, and a healthy dose of self-compassion. The practice of yoga involves stretching the body and forming different poses, while keeping breathing slow and controlled. The body becomes relaxed and energized at the same time. There are various styles of yoga, some moving through the poses more quickly, almost like an aerobic workout, and other styles relaxing deeply into each pose. Some have a more spiritual angle, while others are used purely as a form of exercise. Many of the popular techniques found to reduce stress derive from yoga:
- controlled breathing
- physical movement
- mental imagery
Massage TherapyResearch has indicated that massage may reduce anxiety and depression; ease pain from headaches and backaches; relieve the symptoms of fibromyalgia; decrease stress hormone levels; enhance immune system function; and improve sleep quality and self-image. A relaxation massage is one of the most joyous and beneficial experiences that life offers. It helps reverse the body’s physical reaction to stress and strain, calms the mind and helps satisfy the basic human need to be touched in a caring, nurturing fashion. Massage is also one of the finest natural tools against insomnia. A sleep-improvement treatment is more than just a massage, because it combines the use of relaxing, soothing sounds, penetrating moist heat, diaphragmatic breathing, deep relaxation, and focused muscle relaxation in addition to the application of strokes. Massage techniques are not designed to force the body to change; they are designed to reeducate the body to naturally relax, unwind, rest and assume its proper alignment.
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