Top 9 Naturopathic Medicine Tips for Stress Reduction
by Dr. Janelle Albas
Symptoms of Stress & Adrenal Fatigue:
-Nervousness and irritability, scattered thinking
-Mental depression & fogginess
-Light-headedness and postural hypotension (dizziness when getting up quickly)
-Faintness or fainting spells
-Panic attacks and increased anxiety
-Thin dry skin, thinning hair
– Frequent urination
– Intolerance to cold
– Acne & low libido
Lifestyle Factors to help reduce stress
- Belly Breathing: Sit in a comfortable position with feet grounded on the floor. Take a few deep breaths by pushing your belly outwards rather than lifting the shoulders. On the exhale, tuck the belly inwards. This type of deep breathing increases oxygen delivery to the brain and calms the nervous system, reduces heart rate and blood pressure.
- Exercise: Even short bursts of exercise can reduce stress. Exercise helps deliver more oxygen to your brain, changes thoughts from mental to physical to distract from stress. Regular exercise has been proven to help reduce stress, anxiety and depression. If you are under a lot of stress do not perform more than 45 minutes intense cardiovascular exercise as this can be draining to the adrenal glands (organs in charge of stress management). If you don’t exercise regularly start slow with a gentle yoga class or a brisk walk.
- Escape into Nature: Recent studies have shown that people that go outside and enjoy nature have reduced responses to stress. Even if it’s just a quick stroll during your lunch break it’s important to get outside and breathe in the fresh air and absorb the vitamin D from the sun.
- Write in a Journal: If you like to write or if you have a lot on your mind journaling clarifies your thoughts and feelings for increased self-knowledge. Putting your experience on paper gets it off your mind and helps you refocus- and teaches you how to cope the next time it happens.
Nutrition for Stress Management
- Eat Whole Unprocessed Foods: Stick with foods that are minimally processed such as nuts, whole grains, raw fruits and vegetables and lean proteins. This will provide you with more energy and help your body cope better with stress.
- Eat a Protein Rich Breakfast Every Morning: The brain’s energy comes primarily from sugar; skipping breakfast can cause an alarm of stress hormones. In turn, your body uses its stored sugar to fuel the brain and makes you crave sugary foods. Protein rich foods help curb hunger and won’t make your energy crash during the day. Try incorporating boiled eggs, nuts and seeds, quinoa cereal, and Greek yogurt into your daily breakfast along with a source of fruits or vegetables.
- During times of stress the body requires higher amounts of B-vitamins, vitamin C and zinc & magnesium. Best food sources to help combat stress: almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, salmon, avocado, peppers, green leafy vegetables, berries, broccoli, Himalayan sea salt, non-processed licorice. Avoid caffeine, processed foods and your individual food sensitivities.
- Adaptogenic Herbs- These herbs reduce stress hormones (cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine) and increase the body’s tolerance to stress. When studied they found that adaptogenic herbs help improve recovery from stressful situations and increase resilience. They help prevent fatigue and increase focus during stressful periods. Each person experiences stress differently therefore it’s important to customize your herbal formula to suit the symptoms you’re experiencing. Please consult a Naturopathic Doctor to find an adaptogenic formula that would be personalized for you.
- Acupuncture can help regulate the stress response by balancing the Hypothalamus Pituitary Adrenal Axis and reducing the secretion of stress hormones. It’s important to get your traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis to find out which organ systems may be out of balance thus creating a personalized holistic treatment plan.