Stress comes in different guises and what is stressful to you will not necessarily bother someone else. However, our bodies respond to stress in the same way. Adrenaline is the number one stress hormone; it speeds up the heart beat, breathing and metabolic rate to give us a necessary rush of extra energy. Adrenaline is produced and stored in our two adrenal glands that are situated on top of the kidneys and with long-term stress these glands will deplete. Stress is often seen as negative but if stress is balanced with relaxation then its negative effects may be diminished and a balance can be achieved. Stress may also play a positive role as it strengthens our capacity to cope so that we are better prepared to deal with crisis. Adrenaline moves, motivates and energises.
Unfortunately modern stress is relentless and experienced day after day never giving us time to relax and balance ourselves. Stress caused by losing our job, failing exams, being late and stuck in traffic all gets bottled up and leads to anger, frustration and irritability. Over stressing our system releases excess stress related hormones, enzymes and other chemicals that result in leaving our bodies anxious, our muscles tense and feeling exhausted, eventually we burn out.
Stress effects our skin in a variety of ways.
In order to help support and relieve anxiety and stress there are many available plant relaxants. These herbs can be taken as tinctures, pills, infusions and decoctions. When taken regularly they can help to calm and help deal with a stressful lifestyle and support the nervous system. The following herbs are used for stress, camomile, skullcap, vervain, wild oats, St John's Wort, limeflowers and lavender.
Add the dried herbs to 1 pint (600ml) of boiling water in a warmed pot with a lid. Leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes and then strain. Drink warm throughout the day.
An excellent way to take herbal medicines is in a fragrant hot bath. There are several ways to make a relaxing bath. Add a couple of drops of essential oil to the water, or hang a muslin bag with fresh or dried aromatic herbs under the hot tap, or add a pint of strong infusion to the water and then soak in the bath for 10-30 minutes. Using herbs like this in an herbal bath allows the essential oils from the plants to be taken in through the pores of the skin, which are opened up by the warmth of the water. Also the oils are inhaled into the lungs and then to the bloodstream avoiding the lengthy process of digestion. Herbal baths are especially useful for relaxing and soothing the nervous system and easing mental and emotional strain. In addition- warm moisture cleans the pores and moisturizes the skin. Herbs particularly suited to using in baths are lavender, camomile and limeflowers.