Chronic stress can be detrimental to your mental health and physical health. Learn about alleviating stress naturally.
We all face stress. The fact is that mental tension and worry can spring from both good and bad life events. A wedding or a promotion at work can cause as much stress as a car accident or conflict at home. Whether from a positive or negative event, anxiety often triggers a physiological reaction.
When stress is prolonged or incessant, we call it chronic. Chronic stress can be detrimental to mental and physical health. Leading a lifestyle designed to optimize your health can help in alleviating stress. Read on to learn more about how to alleviate these negative effects naturally.
Stress and Immune Function
The stress response disrupts many body systems. Adrenaline inhibits digestion, which over time can result in ulcers. Raised heart rate and high blood pressure can contribute to coronary heart disease. Adrenaline and noradrenaline can also increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which may increase the risk of a blood clot or arterial occlusion. Each of these problems can take a toll on the immune system.
Chronic stress affects the immune system directly. Cortisol and other corticosteroid hormones produced in response to stress can lead to an increase of cytokine production. Cytokines are substances that promote inflammation and have been associated with many chronic inflammatory and autoimmune conditions. Cortisol and other corticosteroids suppress the production of lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are also a critical part of the immune response to invading organisms. A lowered availability of lymphocytes puts the body at increased risk for infection and disease.
Coping with chronic stress is often associated with smoking, excessive drinking, and poor diet. They’re more than bad habits — they’re unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Alleviating Stress the Natural Way
Pursuing optimal health will help minimize the effects of stress. Begin with getting enough sleep and regular exercise. Eat nutritious foods. Don’t eat between breakfast and lunch or between dinner and breakfast. These mini fasts will allow your digestive system to function better. In addition, choose coping strategies that support good health (meditation over drinking for example). Avoid nicotine, caffeine, and sugar. Talk to someone. Journal. Take control of decision-making where possible.
With regard to nutritional support, aim to support the body systems most affected by stress. Many herbal teas have a reputation for aiding those who are feeling tension and anxiety. For example, here are a few with particularly powerful effects:
- Chanca Piedra (Phyllanthus niruri)
- Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum)
- Water Hyssop (Bacopa monnieri)
- White Peony (Paeonia lactiflora)
- Bog Blueberry (Vaccinium uliginosum)
These teas will support the healthy function of your body’s immune system, circulatory system, and digestive system. Combined with healthy lifestyle choices, they will reduce the problems that high levels of stress bring to your body. Even if you are already taking prescribed medications for anxiety, these herbs are a great way to give your body strong support. (Learn more about zen-inducing, stress relief herbal teas here.)
Avoid putting yourself at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, digestive problems, and a compromised immune system. Face the cause of anxiety head-on. By alleviating stress, you are also showing your commitment to the pursuit of optimal health.