Holistic Stress Treatments

Following are a few types of holistic approaches to stress management utilized to treat the mind, body and spirit:

 

YOGA

The term derives from the Sanskrit for "to join or bring together" and refers to unifying mental, physical and spirtual energies. Yoga is a discipline that stemmed from the Hindu region. It involves stretching, a set of physical poses (called postures or asanas) that help you to control your body and mind through focused and breath-control exercises, called pranayama, that help prepare the mind and body for meditation. By focusing on precise movements and controlled breathing, you stay in the moment rather than worry about the stress of day-to-day life.  Search for a Yoga class in your area or look for Yoga exercise DVDs and practice at home.

 Benefits of Yoga

  • Increases strength and flexibility
  • Lowers the heart rate
  • Decreases blood pressure
  • Reduces anxiety and muscle tension
  • Promotes spiritual growth and a sense of well-being
  • Encourages sound sleep
  • Assists in weight loss
  • May lessen or help to alleviate health problem, such as asthma, depression, back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome

 

 

REFLEXOLOGY

Reflexology is an alternative healing technique that focuses mainly on the feet, but can also focus on the hands, face and ears.  These body parts are home to hundreds of nerve endings. Reflexology is based on the principles that these nerve endings - called zones or reflex areas - correspond to all the different glands, organs and internal and external systems of the human body.  Reflexology practitioners or reflexologists believe applying pressure to these reflex area can restore health in the corresponding organs and parts of the body.

Benefits of Reflexology

Reduces anxiety

Improves blood flow

Can alleviate acute stress symptoms

Studies have been done to try to quantify the positive effects of reflexology, but it is not a scientifically proven healing method.  Nonetheless, it is safe, preventative, gentle and non-invasive and many people find that it can enhance overall health.  Always keep in mind that reflexology is not intended as - and should not be used as - a substitute for conventional medical care.

History of Reflexology

Reflexology is an ancient treatment. Though no one knows for sure when humans began performing reflexology, many cultures have practiced reflexology in some form for thousands of years. Reflexology has early roots in many countries, including:

Egypt:  A tomb in Egypt dating from about 2500 BCE contains murals showing reflexology practitioners and patients.  It is believed that all levels of Egyptian society used reflexology, but that the poor especially used it as a relief from hard manual labor.

China:  The Chinese practice of reflexology dates back to 2300 BCE. Reflexology was a natural partner to the widespread practices of acupuncture and acupressure; all three practices worked in tandem to enhance the flow of energy or chi, in the human body.

The Americas:  Native American people used a type of reflexology that has inspired many current practices in the United States.  Many tribes believed that the feet held a spiritual connection to the ground and that anything blocking that connection could be eliminated by manipulating the feet.

Europe:  Reflexology in Europe dates back to the 14th century when it was promoted by several prominent physicians who believed that foot manipulation helped speed the healing process of their own ailments. During the 16th century, reflexology was casually practiced as a type of massage therapy called zone therapy, which followed the principle that massaging different body parts could help alleviate internal pain.

How Reflexology Works

All reflexologists, no matter what type of reflexology they practice, share the same core belief about how reflexology helps the body heal.  They believe that the body becomes imbalanced when it is under stress or fighting illness.  These imbalances can cause the body to become sicker and unable to combat stress.  When reflexologists use their hands to twist, rotate, wring, stretch or press certain points on a patient's feet, they heal the corresponding body parts.

However, reflexologists do not all agree on how reflexology works. They have several different theories, including:

  • Chi energy:  This theory is based on the idea that reflexology balances the flow of energy (chi) in the human body which leads to healing.
  • Counterirritation:  The human body responds to illness or injury with an immune response. Some reflexologists believe that the body constantly tries to restore equilibrium and that reflexology effectively creates "injury", causing the body to seek out balance.
  • Crystalline deposits:  Crystalline deposits build up in the feet over time.  Reflexologists believe that these deposits block nerve endings and decrease the flow of energy throughout the body.  Reflexologists break down these deposits, which they believe enables the body to heal itself by released blocked energy.
  • Electrical response:  Some reflexologists believe that the body is made up of different types of electrical impulses.  If one impulse is overpowering the others, it can cause an imbalance elsewhere in the body. Reflexology, in their view, helps rebalance the body's electrical impulses and lead to healing.
  • Lymph drainage:  The body's lymphatic system removes excess fluid and toxins from the body.  Some reflexologists argue that reflexology stimulates the lymphatic system improving its overall function and therefore eliminating more toxins.
  • Psychological response:  Some reflexologists believe that the mind plays a large role in convincing the body that it has healed.  In essence, they believe that reflexology creates a powerful placebo effect.

How The Treatment Will Feel

During and after your reflexology treatment, you may experience the following:

  • Tenderness or slight discomfort
  • Relaxation, sleepiness or an increase in energy
  • Warmth or sweatiness
  • Twitching
  • Runny nose or dry throat
  • Overall sense of well-being
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea
  • Tearfulness
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased/decreased appetite
  • Headache

Be sure to share your feelings with your reflexologist.  Reflexologists recommend that after each session you drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine.  Exercise and a healthy diet will prolong the benefits of each treatment.

How to Choose a Reflexologist

  • Local guides - City guides or telephone books usually have reflexology listings
  • Internet - A quick internet search can yield directories of reflexologists by area and also patient reviews
  • Spas, gyms and wellness centers -  Often these facilities have reflexologists on staff or can refer you to an outside reflexologist
  • Natural food centers -  Many natural food centers have bulletin boards or pamphlets that contain information about area reflexologists
  • References -   Consult your friends, family or doctor for recommendations
  • Reflexology Association of America (RAA) - (based in the USA)
  • Association of Reflexologists (AoR) - (based in London)

 

NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS

Many people believe that stress is best treated with herbs and nutritional supplements, in particular, Vitamin B and Vitamin C.  The following common herbs may be found at health food stores and holistic markets and come in a variety of forms, including pills, powders and oils.

CATNIP

  • Nourishes the stomach and nerves
  • Calms the nervous system

CHAMOMILE

  • Aids digestion
  • Stimulates the immune system
  • Helps with sleep disorders and nervous stomach

HOPS

  • Traditionally used for nervous disorders and irritability

KAVA KAVA

  • Relieves anxiety and stress
  • Relieves insomnia
  • Relaxes the body

PASSIONFLOWER

  • Acts like a sedative
  • Promotes relaxation
  • Has anti-anxiety effects

RHODIOLA

  • Reduces heart stress
  • Helps fatigue
  • Has anti-anxiety effects

VALERIAN

  • Relaxes the nervous system
  • Encourages restful sleep                                         

 

AROMATHERAPY

 Of the five senses, smell (olfactory) is the only one that links directly to the brain's center of memory, arousal and emotion (limbic system).  Aromatherapy draws on this connection to boost your spirits, improve your focus or simply help you relax

Aromatherapy is the practice of enhancing health, mood and appearance through the use of concentrated plant extracts called essential oils.  Some essential oils, such as chamomile and lavender, calm the nervous system, whereas others, such as peppermint and rosemary, have stimulating properties.  Applied topically or inhaled, essential oils can ease physiological and emotional symptoms.  They can also be diffused through your home's ventilation system to provide a gentle, pleasant fragrance.

Aromatics Through The Ages

Though the term "aromatherapy" did not arise until the 20th century, aromatics have been used for centuries.

  • China has used salves, liniments and herbal teas from camphor, ginger, jasmine and rose since 4500 BCE.
  • Egyptian priests, aristocrats and pharaohs used extracts and resins of frankincense, juniper, spikenard, myrrh and cypress in their perfumes, medicines and cosmetics, as well as in spiritual ceremonies.
  • In India, herbs such as cinnamon, myrrh, ginger, coriander and sandalwood have long been used for massage and in perfumes and baths.

Essential oils are aromatic essences from plants, fruits, bark, grasses and seeds.  Found in health food stores and holistic shops, they can be rubbed on the body, added to a bath or simply placed with an eyedropper on a cotton ball and inhaled deeply. There are more than 300 aromatic plants that contain essential oils.  There are about 150 essential oils each with its own particular healing qualities.

 

 

Essential Oils for Stress
Anger & Anxiety Depression Nervous Tension Nervous Exhaustion
Basil Basil Basil Basil
Chamomile Clary Sage Cedarwood Cinnamon
Clary Sage Grapefruit Chamomile Citronella
Cypress Jasmine Cinnamon Coriander
Jasmine Lavender Frankincense Ginger
Juniper Rose Geranium Grapefruit
Lavender Sandalwood Jasmine Jasmine
Ylang-ylang Ylang-ylang Lavender Lavender
    Marjoram Lemongrass
    Melissa Peppermint
    Neroli Nutmeg
    Rosemary Rosemary
      Ylang-ylang

Two essential oil blends that you can make yourself

Add each  separate mix to a bottle of basic unscented massage oil (carrier oil) like Coconut,  Evening Primrose, Jojoba, Safflower or Sweet Almond.

CAUTION:  If there is an allergy to nuts, be advised that carrier oils can be produced from almonds, hazelnuts, coconuts and walnuts.  If you are allergic to any of these nuts, be sure to never use any carrier oils made from them.

FOR THE BODY

  • 20 drops Lavender oil
  • 10 drops  Rosemary oil
  • 10 drops Black Pepper Oil
  • 5 drops Peppermint Oil
  • 5 drops Cypress Oil

FOR THE MIND

  • 20 drops Geranium oil
  • 10 drops  Bergamot oil
  • 10 drops Ylang-ylang oil
  • 5 drops Frankincense oil
  • 5 drops Cedarwood oil

 

ESSENTIAL OIL PRECAUTIONS

Essential oils are highly concentrated and are not for everyone.  In particular, if you want to use essential oils on or around children, pregnant or nursing women, the elderly, sensitive-skinned people, or anyone with chronic illness, ask a doctor first.   In addition, always follow these essential oil safety guidelines:

  • Read and follow all label instructions and warnings on essential oil bottles.
  • Keep all essential oils out of the reach of children.
  • Keep all essential oils out of the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and all other body openings.  If exposure does occur, flush with MILK or CARRIER OIL, not water.
  • For children and the elderly, use half the amount of essential oil called for in a recipe.
  • Use a carrier oil to dilute essential oils.
  • Use only 100% pure essential oils for therapeutic results.  "Fragrance" oils are synthetic.
  • Keep essential oils away from air, heat and light.  Replace lids immediately after use.
  • To prevent contamination, do not touch the inner dropper lids of essential oil bottles.
  • If your skin is sensitive or allergy-prone, do a patch test on the crook of your arm.  Wait a few hours to see whether there is a reaction; discontinue use if redness or irritation occurs.  Fair-skinned people, blondes, and redheads should be especially careful.
  • If you have epilepsy, heart or kidney problems or any other serious medical condition, do not use essential oils unless advised by a medical professional.
  • Never use essential oils as a substitute for necessary medical care.

DISCLAIMER: Serenity Tea Sips™ has provided this material as a source of information only. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your primary health care provider.  We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider.

 

 

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER: Serenity Tea Sips™ has provided this material as a source of information only. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your primary health care provider.  We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider.