How to cope with stress the holistic way

To stay well, we need to take account of the full range of factors that can influence our health. Here are ways that you can combat some stressful life issues the holistic way.

How to cope with stress the holistic way

Coping with modern life

  • The philosophy of holistic health recognizes that the body and mind are interrelated and that if one is out of balance, it can affect the other.
  • While it's not possible to avoid stress entirely, there are practical ways to restore our equilibrium that don't involve stimulants or medical intervention.

Six handy stress busters

A demanding job, too many personal commitments and a polluted environment are just some of the factors that can put us at risk of stress and affect our health and well-being. Try these earth-wise remedies to counter the effects of stress.

  1. Laugh more. It's a cliché, but laughter really is the best medicine. It disrupts negative thoughts, boosts the immune system, relaxes the muscles and stimulates the release of feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins. Laughter clubs have become popular in some areas.
  2. Move vigorously. Aerobic activity helps metabolise the stress hormones created when we're angry or tense. If you can exercise out of doors, fresh air and sunshine can also improve your mood.
  3. Practise breathing properly. When we're tense, we don't breathe deeply, and the shallow breaths we take contribute to our feeling of anxiety. Try taking one breath every six seconds or 10 breaths a minute. Do this twice a day, 10 minutes per session, and it will become a healthy habit.
  4. Avoid the triggers that lead to stressful situations. If you find crowds difficult to cope with, for example, rearrange your timetable to avoid travelling during rush hour.
  5. Rethink your medications. Often the very things you take to reduce stress may be having the opposite effect. Sleeping pills, for example, can produce a next-day 'hangover' effect, and some high blood pressure medicines and cough syrups can have unexpected side effects such as poor sleep.
  6. Try to cut down on cigarettes, which contain nicotine, and coffee and chocolate, which contain caffeine. These stimulants provide a temporary lift, but can produce jittery feelings as a side effect.

Stress alert

Sometimes life is so busy it's hard to notice when stress is affecting our health. If you have any or all of these symptoms, nature is telling you it's time to take action.

  • Frequent colds and sore throats
  • Insomnia or restless sleep
  • Headaches or backache
  • General feeling of fatigue
  • Heart palpitations
  • Skin problems
  • Mood swings, sudden emotional outbursts, hostility
  • Stomach and digestive upsets
  • Increased reliance on alcohol or pills to help sleep
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