Old-Time Herbal Remedies to Relieve Stress

Dr. Sharon Hagemann discusses nine age-old herbal remedies to relieve stress in your life.

| October/November 2000

Learn about these old-time herbal remedies to relieve stress.

Whether your'e struggling to get the harvest in before the first frost or you're stuck in a rush-hour traffic jam, stress has become a fact of life for many of us these days. We get worn to a frazzle by work demands or pushed to our limits by family needs. Nearly everyone feels overwhelmed at one point or another, and most of us aren't even aware of the sources of stress in our lives or how our bodies attempt to cope. Over time, however, the effects of stress can pose a serious challenge to our emotional, mental and physical well-being.

Research into the physiological effects of stress has revealed a series of reactions known collectively as the General Adaptation Syndrome. Alarm reaction, the response that first occurs when you're faced with a perceived emotional or physical threat, results in a rise in blood pressure, an increased heartbeat, and a general mobilization of your body's defensive forces.

The alarm reaction stage is followed by the resistance stage, which comes when you've adapted to the threat and your symptoms — sweaty palms, clenched jaw — begin to improve or disappear. Luckily, most physical and emotional stress situations are contained within these two stages. However, a third response, known as the exhaustion stage, will set in if you regularly feel anxious over a prolonged period of time. A constant battle with stress will cause alarm reaction symptoms to reappear. If the stress continues unabated, health problems such as hypertension, chronic anxiety and even heart attack can ensue. Use these herbal remedies to relieve stress from work and life.

Mountains Out of Molehills

An obvious and daunting fact about stress is that it has less to do with external factors (your car breaking clown, your kids bickering) than with your very conscious reaction to these events. In other words, we are in charge of our own stress levels.

Different situations trigger stress in different people. For instance, your co-worker might cringe at the thought of giving a lecture in front of a large audience, while you might jump at the chance. Likewise, one person will relish an active schedule full of challenges, while another will prefer quieter, more predictable pursuits. Switch these two types of people and each would feel stressed in the other one's shoes.

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