The Life of an Urban Herbalist
A collection of musings and some articles with a more scientific approach.
We all know that worry doesn't make anything better but it doesn't stop our brains from doing it. Worry and anxiety are a fear of something that hasn't happened and, in many cases may never happen. However its easy to spiral down into a cycle of negative thinking. After the traumatic events on Monday night in Manchester many people have been deeply upset by the news coverage and by the fear of what may yet be to come so here are 5 simple tips to help you deal with your worry and stop it affecting your life.
1. Let it go!
Take a deep breath in through your nose for a count of 4 then hold it for a count of 4 let it out through your mouth for a count of four and hold on the out breath for a count of four. Repeat the exercise 5 times.
Concentrating on your breathing means you are taking your attention away from what is upsetting you. Breathing slowly and regularly supplies the brain and your muscles with the oxygen they need to perform well. The out breath is particularly relaxing
2. Get outside.
Research shows that being able to rest our gaze on the horizon in the green of nature is intensely stress relieving. It is thought that the primitive part of our brains that deals with protecting us needs to see into the distance to know that there's no lions, tigers or bears coming to get us. Something as simple as getting into the garden, going to the park or getting in the car and driving out to the country can be profoundly stress relieving.
3. Try meditation or mindfulness.
Mindfulness is really just meditation by another name. It allows the brain to focus on the here and now which can be profoundly stress relieving. You don't need any special equipment, just a chair and a phone or computer that allows you to stream or download. In fact once you have the hang of it you should be able to switch off and be mindful for a few minutes wherever you are. Just don't try this profoundly relaxing process when you need to concentrate, drive or operate heavy machinery. There are several online resouces I have used myself and found useful. Headspace who offer 10 days of free meditations and then after that a low cost subscription service. Here at Mindful.org they have reviews of lots of other services. You can also look on YouTube for lots more free meditation and mindfulness services. (I have no affiliation to any of the above and receive no reward for recommending them) I've enjoyed this calming youtube 5 minute meditation today.
4. Cut down the coffee. Try a cup of tea.
Caffeine makes you jittery. It's basically a drug that increases the amount of adrenaline in the system. According to James Lane a psychiatry professor quoted in THIS article caffeine increases the amount of stress in the body by blocking adenosine resulting in an exaggerated response to stressful situations. This means that folk drinking colas, coffee, and those awful energy drinks are more likely to overreact to stressful situations or even to the news. Cut it out, If you drink loads of coffee don't stop abruptly or you'll get the worst headache. Half your intake each day over a week or so. But don't forget to replace the liquid intake. Try herbal teas or even a good old cup of Cha. L-theanine a constituent of black and green teas has a calming stabilising effect on mood. Research has shown that even though there is caffeine in tea L-Theanine is preferentially absorbed by the body in the evening and at times of stress so the good old British answer to any shock has a good basis in science.
5. A cup of camomile tea.
Hey, I'm a herbalist, You didn't think you were getting away without a herbal suggestion did you? Camomile tea is a known traditional relaxant. Apigenin, a polysaccheride in camomile is thought to be responsible for it's profoundly relaxing effects. It also contains chrysin which can help promote sleep and bisabolols that have an anti-inflammatory action so not only does it calm the mind but it's great for soothing your gut. It has been shown to reduce discomfort in IBS and also to help settle the stomach when someone is getting over a tummy bug. And best of all? Its even safe enough for children.
We live in an increasingly stressful world. We can't control the world, we can only control how we respond to it. However in doing so we can make life just a little easier every day.
Have a calmer day and a cup of camomile