Lifestyle Works

Deal With Stress Naturally

Many people resort to using over-the-counter, chemical stress relievers, but these are neither a safe nor healthy solution to dealing with or eliminating stress. They can tend to cause a lot more problems than they remedy. Thankfully, there are many natural alternatives that will help you deal with stress without troublesome side effects.

Stress can manifest itself in many forms: such as migraines, tension headaches, body pain, loss of or gain in appetite, depression, infections, high blood pressure, indigestion, fatigue, disturbances in sleep patterns, and there are many other symptoms. Many of these are able to be dealt with by using safe, natural remedies.

Stress relief can include dietary changes and exercise, along with using herbal supplements and lifestyle changes.

Exercise results in the depletion of adrenaline in our bodies which enables relaxation. It also relaxes tensed muscles and helps distract the mind from the stress, and will help produce beta endorphins which results in a sense of well-being.

Herbal help can come from kavakava, passion flower, St John Wort, chamomile, catnip and hops. These have been used for many years to assist in relieving stress.

A simple hot bath with your favourite essential oils added will work wonders to relax the body and relieve stress.

Pouring boiling water over a teaspoon of dried sage leaves and sweetening with raw honey if needed also makes a wonderful drink that will assist in relieving the symptoms of stress.

Dietary help can come from sprouts, alfalfa and black molasses. Eliminating caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and other stimulants will also help relieve stress, as these are known to deplete vitamin B stores in our bodies, adding to the stress load.

A diet high in organic fruits and vegetables as well as keeping the diet low in refined carbohydrates and sugars will also be beneficial to the stress load.

Anti-oxidants which will assist include vitamin A, vitamin E, Gingko Biloba and selenium. Aromatherapy oils such as ylang ylang, sandalwood, rosemary, tangerine, frankincense, chamomile, marjoram, lavender, peppermint and rose oils are also effective tools as they are able to help the body relax and de-stress. Check with your Naturopath on use of essential oils, as some may not be suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.

~Taken from by Shona Botes, 17 February 2011

Music Can Heal

Studies in music indicate that it is a natural healer. Proven to release dopamine responsible for pleasure, music shows promise in the treatment of mental and somatic illnesses. Similar research also suggests that it may be useful for patients with traumatic brain injury and as therapeutic intervention for problems associated with aging.

Pleasure Booster

A recent study published in Nature Neuroscience (2011) indicates that listening to one's favourite music leads to the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with the pleasure system of the brain. Even just anticipating the sounds of the music one likes will trigger the release of dopamine.

Depression Lifter

A review of five randomized studies was conducted by Maratus, et al, (2008) to determine if music is effective in reducing the symptoms of depression.

Results showed that four of the five studies reported significant reduction in depression among participants who were selected at random to music therapy compared to those receiving standard care conditions. Participants in the music therapy reported improvement in their moods and mental state.

Dr Neil Nedley in his studies on depression has an interesting result of his research. While each person tends to have musical preferences, even listening to these musical favourites will not always improve mood after the music stops. He says that not all music will improve the mood or the mind. Here are some music therapy facts.

1) The mental health benefits of music have been well proven

2) Not all kinds of music are beneficial.

3) Classical music has been found to be most effective, even among those who do not know it or even prefer it.

Music can automatically capture attention and may distract attention from negative experiences such as pain, anxiety, worry and sadness. Similarly, it is effective in the treatment of affective disorders such as depression, pathologic anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It is beneficial in the treatment of tinnitus and in facilitating Alzheimer's patients adaptation in long-term care facilities, and it has also been shown to improve executive function in the elderly, including those who suffered stoke and Parkinson's disease.

~Taken from by Amy Chaves, February 10, 2011 & Depression; the Way Out p84

Recipe of the Month

Black Eye Beans

1½ c dried black eyed beans
1 large onion
125g tomato paste
1 can coconut cream
1-2 T tahini

¼ t cayenne pepper
2 t paprika
½ t cumin
1 t salt
2 t honey

Cook the beans until soft. Saute onions until soft and add tomato paste, coconut cream, tahini and seasonings. Stir until it forms a smooth creamy sauce. Drain cooked beans and combine with sauce, simmer gently for 5-10 mins. Serve on top of rice or toast.