As summer ends many of us find ourselves looking forward to all of the pleasantness of Fall and the good things this brings…pumpkin patches, apple picking, cooler weather, beautiful trees, holidays, school starting up. Oh, wait. Holidays mean family and cooking and travel and school means field trips, car pools, chaotic early mornings or, for college students, adjusting to a new routine and a new environment. Is there a slight bit of stress or anxiety working their way in to those pleasant thoughts of Fall? Do not worry, you can soothe those stressful moments with your own natural stress relief tool kit. After all, we have tool kits for our cars, computers and homes when things break so why not one for ourselves when we feel anxiety threatening to break into all of the beauty the Fall season can bring?
The first tool in your tool kit is taking 15 minutes every morning for yourself. Perhaps this means you need to get up 15 minutes earlier, but it is well worth it. Taking a walk, even if it is only 10 minutes is a fabulous way to start the day of rejuvenated and with those endorphins flowing. Studies have shown that taking just 5 minutes to meditate, even while you are still in bed reduces anxiety and refocuses our attention away from negative thoughts. A study out of UCLA has shown that there is evidence indicating that our minds cannot hold fear (anxiety) and gratitude at the same time, so spend part of your 15 minutes making a gratitude list, engaging in mindfulness or praying to the higher source of your choice or just sending positive, grateful vibes into the world. Whatever you decide, try to get in those 15 minutes each morning just for you.
The next tool for your stress relief tool kit is one that many of us may find difficult but is well worth the difficulty…stop eating stress inducing foods! The foods that we eat are one of the biggest components affecting how our bodies react to stress and anxiety. If inflammatory foods are eaten daily and your body is running low on the essential nutrition that it needs, stress and anxiety have the foundation needed to wreak havoc on your body. To not let those potentially stressful moments get the better of you try eliminating foods like wheat, barley, rye, oats, well-done red meat, meat with added nitrates, the skins of potatoes and genetically modified corn or soy from your diet and be sure to get your daily allowance of 60 minerals, 16 vitamins, 12 amino acids and two fatty acids. In addition, the way you fuel your body with breakfast gets your body started off on either the right or the wrong foot for the day. To really see how food affects your body try the following experiment. One morning, start the day with a bagel or a croissant from your favorite coffee place and then notice how you feel at 10 a.m. and make note of it. Another morning, have something healthier such as a smoothie, a coconut yogurt parfait, tofu with veggies and then notice how you feel at 10 a.m. and make note. The difference just might amaze you. In addition, supply your body with soothing and stress reducing foods such as coconut, avocado, salmon, nuts, seeds, lentils, beans, eggs, tofu, meat and poultry and cheese.
We all know that exercise is one of the most beneficial tools to have in our toolkits, and research shows that yoga is one of the best practices to engage in to lower your stress level. For those who are not inclined to yoga, a simple way to rebalance your body is to get outside, in your bare feet and walk in the yard or dirt. It is a great way of grounding yourself. Whether it is a sport, gardening, walking, yoga, or just stretching, make sure to move your body every day.
The final tool to keep handy in your natural stress relief tool kit are stress relieving herbs. Holy basil is a great one to have on hand, either as an extract to be taken internally or dried. Not only does holy basil reduce stress but it improves the immune system response as well. Rhodiola is beneficial for increasing endurance, alertness and memory while also reducing fatigue. Ashwagandha is a calming adaptogen that supports healthy adrenal function which helps the body maximize its ability to handle stress.
Don’t let the stress that can come with the Fall season overshadow those happy and enjoyable moments the season brings. Take some time for yourself. Breathe. Treat your body well. And enjoy the beauty Fall has to offer.
UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center. (2018). Tips for stress relief naturally. Mind and Body, 6(2), 56 – 60
Rubin, T. (2018). Wellness and stress relief. Retrieved from: https://www.betternutrition.com/features-dept/natural-stress-relievers