Your boss is driving you crazy, you’re in hot water with your honey, and the jerk in the little red car just cut you off. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a stress buster as simple to use as a vitamin pill? Well, there are plenty of products out there that claim to reduce stress. The problem? There isn’t a lot of rock-solid evidence that stress-busting herbal and nutritional supplements actually work.
“Kava kava, valerian, and chamomile tea have all been advocated for reducing anxiety, St. John’s wort is used for mild depression, and a blend of natural herbs called adaptogens are very popular in Russia and Eastern Europe for relieving stress,” says Dr. Paul Rosch, president of the American Institute of Stress.
“The problem here is that such supplements do not have to provide evidence of efficacy or safety and can make any claims they wish to since the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Communications Commission have no jurisdiction over them. In addition, few of these products have any double-blind clinical trials to back up their claims, much less a scientific rationale for support,” Rosch explains.
So you may end up having to experiment to see if they work for you. And “all natural” doesn’t necessarily mean “incapable of harm.” Some herbs, such as St. John’s wort, can interfere with prescription medications. And kava-containing supplements have been known to cause liver damage severe enough to require a transplant. If you want an alternative “all natural” stress buster, you may want to try these instead:
Some studies have suggested that people who use “religious coping” — seeking God’s help, finding comfort in religion — have lower blood pressure than those who use alternate stress relievers. The simple act of praying for stress relief might be enough to achieve your goal.
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2. FORGIVE SOMEONE
A recent study found that those people with a propensity to forgive others tended to have — you guessed it: lower blood pressure than their less-forgiving peers. Isn’t it time you gave up that grudge, if only to gain the health benefits?
About 60 percent of people who are stressed say they don’t get enough sleep, according to a National Consumers League survey. If falling asleep is your trouble, it’s time to start a calming bedtime routine. Start with a soothing shower and some lavender body wash. Then slip between the covers with a light novel and you’ll be asleep in no time.
Can’t find the time or money to plan a lounge on the beach for a week? A vacation can be as simple as a quick weekend trip, or a special event near home. All that’s necessary is that you spend an extended period of time not thinking about those things — work, money, relationships — that are making you crazy.