Stress can save your life! Stress gives you more energy, increases your heart rate, and increases blood flow to the muscles. It can get you out of an emergency situation as fast as possible – such as out of the path of an oncoming car. However, low levels of stress that lasts for long periods of time can harm the body. This type of prolonged stress can be related to a number of diseases including heart disease, cancer, slowed wound healing, decreased memory & cognition, osteoporosis, decreased immunity (increased infections), depression, anxiety, even eczema.

Here are some ways to cope with stress:

Breathing: Focus on taking deep, slow breaths, expand your abdomen with each inhalation. Deep breathing provides more oxygen to your body (and can also clear your thoughts).

Exercise: Moderate exercise can decrease stress and improve the immune system. Exercise can stimulate the release of endorphins, the “feel good” hormones. A half hour walk daily can help tremendously with stress.

Diet/nutrients: Eat a good, well balanced diet. Increase consumption of tryptophan by eating cheese, eggs, meat, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds. Tryptophan is used to make the calming neurotransmitter, serotonin. Increase consumption of tyrosine by eating whole grains, seafood, meat, peanut butter and legumes (kidney beans). Tyrosine is used to make epinephrine, a neurotransmitter which is used up during stress. B and C vitamins are also important in coping with stress.

Herbs: Use herbs in teas, in the bath, as a foot bath, in tinctures, a dream pillow or as aromatherapy. In fact using herbal and aromatics in bath and body products can go a long way in relieving stress.

Here are some great herbs to try.

German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) – mild sedative, calms the nerves, promotes sleep, improves mood.
California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) – sedative and anti-anxiety, reduces muscle spasms.
Catnip (Nepeta cataria) – calming, relieves headaches, promotes sleep, good in the bath for sore muscles.
Hops (Humulus lupulus) – mild sedative, calms the nerves, promotes sleep.
Kava (Piper methysticum) – sedative, antidepressant, muscle relaxer (do not take with alcohol or antidepressants).
Lavender (Lavandula officinalis) – sedative, relaxant.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) – sedative, relieves headache and tension, improves memory.
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnate) – sedative, promotes sleep
Skullcap (Scutellaria laterifloria) – sedative, for nervous tension (do not use during pregnancy)
Wild Oat (Avena sativa) – mild sedative, promotes sleep and relieves stress too.

Whatever you do find a way that is simple and works for you.