When I was twenty years old, I decided to teach exercise classes. I had been going to a local Lucille Roberts gym and was a dedicated class member. The manager there would try and recruit me once per week, “Come on Kristin, you’d be a great instructor.” The truth of it was that I couldn’t envision myself leading and motivating other sweaty people especially wearing body-hugging attire. Fear kept me from moving forward and trying something that I felt I’d be good at so I began mirroring the instructor in class and practicing at home. After a while, I “auditioned” for the manager and got the job. The gym was part savior and part teacher, providing me an outlet for stress and a platform to combat stage fright. It introduced me to my body and brain chemistry and how the two are interconnected and react accordingly to what they are being given.
Over the years, I realized that a collective effort to combat stress, anxiety and the winter blues from natural sources was the path that I found effective and well suited to me. Like most natural remedies, they take a little longer to work and there is usually not one magic thing. But an adjustment in lifestyle along with a few supplements can work wonders.
Along with any type of exercise, here are my top picks for drug-free stress relief.
CBD. The oil was all the rage two years ago. It has slowed a bit because not everyone got the effects they wanted. CBD in liquid form doesn’t always work on people with certain saliva chemistry. That’s where pills or emulsified CBD can work wonders. If you didn’t feel relief from CBD for its intended purpose, that could be the reason. Try pills or a liquid emulsified option. Barleans has a lemon or chocolate mint one that is delicious and priced well. CBD oil is from cannabis but lacks the THC so you don’t get the “stoned” feeling. CBD acts as an adaptogen and creates stabilization of the physiological processes in our body. It calms, alleviates inflammation, is good for minor to moderate pain and has an overall balancing effect.
Omega-3 Fish oil contains EPA and DHA which nourish the brain. These naturally occurring acids help the brain with memory, depression and anxiety. It works best when taken daily or a few times per week. Carlson brand is mercury tested and high quality.
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), an amino acid and a key inhibitory neurotransmitter, may help support a calm mind as well as muscle relaxation. It comes in pill form. Great in stressful situations to promote calm and feelings of well being.
L-Theanine is an amino acid found to have calming effects. You can buy it in supplement form or it’s naturally found in green tea. This leads me to urge you to not have more than 2 caffeinated drinks per day (tea, soda, coffee). Excessive caffeine makes us jittery and anxious. Swap out a coffee or soda for green tea daily and see the results.
Herbal teas are soothing and have medicinal properties. There are calming blends to help with nerves or sleeplessness. Chamomile is great for stress and anxious feelings. Sleepy time tea is good for a restful night sleep.
Meditation. I know, here comes the eye roll. But science shows it’s effective and so do humans all over the planet. Ten minutes per day brings peace and calm. Use an APP and just work your way up to ten minutes. No one is judging how long that takes.
Deep Breathing has calming effects on our bodies. When you feel stressed, take 5-10 long breaths in and out, pausing in between your inhale and exhale. Feel it?
In my book The Butterfly Promise I write of walking meditation. Instead of being plugged in and powered up on your walk or run, unplug once or twice per week and just pay attention to the world which surrounds you. Take notice of the color of the sky, the clouds, trees or a bird in flight. Feel the ground, smell the air and just be present. This type of meditation is great for beginners and those who just want to be present in life and feel calm and connected. Who knows what or who you will connect to.
Life is challenging. Stress is cyclical. Great health is a collective effort. Nothing is impossible with the information and tools. Consult your healthcare professional. Shop your local health food store. Now take 5 deep breaths….