Stress may seem like an unavoidable fact of life, but did you know that simply by understanding how it works, how it affects your body and your emotional wellbeing, you can become more intentional about how you care for yourself when you’re stressed out. You can work WITH your body, rather than against it. You can remain nourished, and even flourish in the midst of stressful seasons and circumstances.
Stress starts as an event or experience outside of ourselves, our brains then consciously or subconsciously interpret and attach meaning to those events and if it experiences them as stressful, issues a state of alarm. This leads to a chain reaction in our bodies designed to help us survive and overcome the challenges we are facing before restoring balance once again.
You can support your body at every stage in this process in natural and even surprising ways. Read on for a free recipe for my simple, natural calming roller bottle - an absolute must-have for anyone who needs some peace and calm during life’s stressful times.
Dealing With The Circumstances Themselves: Saying NO to Stressful Situations You Can Avoid.
One of the simplest (but not easy) stress management strategies you can adopt is to live curious, self-aware and on the lookout for situations or demands on your life that you don’t actually have to deal with.
This includes learning more about and creating boundaries with other people, organizations, and perhaps even yourself. To filter out commitments that are unnecessary, overcrowding your life, or are inconsistent with your goals and values.
This also includes learning to “put down” mental loads that aren’t yours to carry. Learning to tell the difference between concerns that are within your control, and thus your responsibility and those that are not is a valuable and life saving life skill that very few of us ever learn, or master - yet it is one of the most stress-relieving, life-changing and empowering life-skills there is!
Emotional Regulation: Helping Your Brain Choose & Stay Calm
If how your brain interprets a situation is the source of all those pesky physical stress symptoms and all of that emotional unrest, then helping it to choose and stay calm is the next best thing you can do if you are dealing with a stressful situation you just cannot escape. This is called supporting your brain’s emotional regulation systems.
One of the most powerful ways to do this is with different scents. Your sense of smell is the only of your five senses that bypasses all of your brain’s processing functions and quickly, and directly affects the parts of your brain that generates different emotions (ie: stress or calm) which go on to cause other ripple reactions in your body and mind.
Some scents are especially soothing. Lavender, for example, has been shown in numerous studies to calm participants and reduce their stress levels. Other calming scents include ylang-ylang, bergamot, orange blossom, roman chamomile and frankincense.
Using scents to treat your mood is called aromatherapy, and is very easy to do at home. Several studies have shown how aromatherapy decreases anxiety and improves sleep.
Warning: Please be mindful of the quality of essential oils or candles you use in your home. Fake fragrances are harmful and so detrimental to your health that they may actually place more stress on your body. Only use quality tested and pure essential oils.
Supporting a body during a stress response: Nourishing can lead to flourishing.
Once your brain triggers your body's stress response, the organs responsible for regulating it (your adrenal glands) release cortisol, a hormone that diverts resources from some processes and towards others. This is why digestive issues, reduced sex-drive and sleeplessness are common reactions to stress. Usually, a stress response ends in a time of rest and restoration, but our busy and overextended lives often cause stress cycles to overlap, nearly eliminating opportunities for our bodies and mind to heal.
By intentionally nourishing your adrenal glands, the systems affected by stress and becoming intentional with rhythms of rest and renewal you can support your body as it does its thing.
Foods that are rich in vitamin C and nutmeg for example are very nourishing to your adrenal glands. Herbs like ashwagandha help regulate your adrenal glands and can over time, reduce the severity of your body's stress responses because of its adaptogenic properties.
Nourishing your digestive system with digestive enzymes and probiotics are ways you can support it when stress causes digestive upsets.
Avoiding caffeine, sugar and other stimulants will improve and regulate your blood sugar levels and make you feel less anxious and jittery.
Oxidative stress has recently been implicated in depression, anxiety disorders and high anxiety levels, and so antioxidant rich superfoods (like ningxia or goji berries) may improve nervous system function, protect heart function, digestive health, stabilize blood sugar levels and protect overall health during times of stress.
Peace & Calming Roller Bottle Recipe
10 drops of lavender essential oil
10 drops of frankincense essential oil
10 drops of bergamot essential oil
10 drops of orange blossom essential oil.
In a 10ml glass roller bottle. Top up with fractionated Coconut Oil or V6 Carrier Oil.
Roll over wrists, heart when you’re feeling stressed out or are struggling to stay calm. You can even roll some onto the palms of your hands, cup them over your nose and mouth and breath deeply as you count to 10 slowly.
Remember how I said not all smells are created equal? Often times, you cannot trust that your favorite retailer has done their homework and is selling you products that are truly pure, and unadulterated. If they are willing to compromise the health of their workers or the planet to make their product, why would they care about yours? Knowing who to trust is everything - and lucky for you, I have done my homework. I have a source that I trust, has it all under one roof, has helped find me products that are safe and truly nourishing, and have enabled me to flourish in spite of having years of chronic stress to play catch up on. Want to know more? Let’s get in touch!