23 March 2021 ۰ Zen Maitri
It’s common knowledge that stress isn’t good for us. But although we know that, the difference between ‘being stressed’ and ‘being calm’ can feel a bit vague. How do you know if you’re affected by stress, and does life actually feel better when you’re calm?
With the year we’ve all had, confusion over calm has never been more real. Many of us have become accustomed to living in a heightened state of stress or anxiety — it’s become the new normal.
But living in this way for the long-term, and feeling constantly on the edge, comes with real health risks:
Chronic stress over a long period of time can actually decrease your brain mass, affecting cognition and memory (and in turn, making it even harder to cope with stress)
Stressful events or periods of stress as an adult can cause mental ill health, including depression and anxiety disorders
Stress hormones affect the immune system and can impair the body’s ability to recover from physical illness, and increase the likelihood of heart disease, cancer, and other serious illness
We don’t mean to make you stressed about stress. That would be counterproductive. But it’s important to recognise that for many of us, the impact of stress is real. You might not feel great day-to-day and find that it’s harder to manage the ups and downs of being human.
Stress can also make it difficult for us to have loving and positive relationships; to be present in the moment; and to enjoy the things that make life good.
All of which explains why it’s so important to make calming practices a priority. By committing to calm, you can create more of it — and learn, one day at a time, how to become a calmer person.
Here are five ways to incorporate calm and stress relief into your self-care routine.
Meditating is one of the best things you can do to increase calm in your life. Studies show that it eases the physical and emotional impact of stress, and even helps you get better at making good decisions.
It’s totally normal to try meditation a few times and then give up - because it takes a while to truly feel the benefits. We recommend that you start simple and stick with it. It doesn’t have to be complicated; and consistency is key. By practising regularly you’ll establish new connections in your brain (even when it feels like nothing’s happening) so that after a little time has gone by, you’ll really notice how your practice changes your state of mind.
Starting simple could mean:
Sit down for five minutes each day, place your hands over your ribcage, and notice the movement of your ribs with each inhale and exhale.
If you haven’t tried meditation before, you might think that something as simple as that couldn’t have much impact. But trust us - it will!
If you’d like some guidance to get you started, join our weekly Rest. Relax. Recover. meditation and relaxation class. It’s online every Friday evening, and you can pay what you want - because we want our meditation classes to be accessible to everyone.
It’s well-known by gut health experts that stress has a negative effect on our digestive systems. And equally, digestive issues can cause additional stress.
To give yourself the best possible chance of feeling calm, it’s crucial to take care of your body from the inside out. Eat food that supports your digestive system; think fibre, wholegrain carbs, and healthy fats and proteins.
You can use herbal medicine to improve your digestion, too. Our Digestion Capsules are carefully formulated from herb and plant extracts to create calm in your digestive tract.
Embrace Herbal Medicine
Speaking of herbal medicine, the wisdom of herbs can help you cultivate calm in a number of different ways. One of the challenges we’re facing collectively right now is that life is very uncertain, and we have to adapt to unexpected circumstances and restrictions all the time.
Herbs can help you build resilience through times of upheaval. For example, our Adapt Smoothie Powder is made with a blend of Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, Chamomile, and Tulsi, which all work to balance your hormones and allow you to move more gently through change and stress. Similarly, our Adapt Tincture has a blend of adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms that support emotional and mental balance, and replenish the adrenal system.
We’re all breathing all the time; but are you making use of your breath to increase calm? Studies show that knowing how to control and direct your breath can reduce stress hormones, stop anxiety attacks in their tracks, and basically change your life in a very good way.
Your breath is a tool you have with you wherever you go, so it makes sense to learn how to use it.
It all starts with noticing. The simple practice of noticing what your breath is doing right now will build your capacity to change your breathing in a way that influences your emotional state, and your physical wellness. Is your breath short, quick, and shallow? Deep, easy and long? Somewhere in between?
If you feel that your breath, or breathing practice, is impaired by congestion or frequent colds, try our Breathe Tea. It’s made with a blend of herbs that contain properties known to support a healthy respiratory system while keeping winter colds at bay.
Using essential oils in your home can boost all of your other calming practices. It’s an easy way to commit to calm each day, because you can feel the benefits by simply putting a few drops of oil in a diffuser and going about your day.
Lavender is the oil that everyone thinks of when it comes to relaxation, and with good reason. It has a powerful calming effect and is known to boost mood and even ease the symptoms of depression. Bergamot is a lesser-known essential oil - it’s spicier, and it has been found to reduce feelings of anxiety and promote a more cheerful mood.
Both of those oils are available individually or as part of our Essential Oil and Diffuser bundle, which offers the perfect way to get started with calm-supportive aromatherapy in your living room (or home office/bedroom/kitchen/bathroom...wherever you’re spending your time!).
We Hope You’re OK
We know things aren’t easy at the moment. So we’ll end this one with a heartfelt note from us to you: we hope you’re OK. Remember to reach out to the people around you and stay connected in whatever way you can, and remember that how you feel can change from one day to the next.
Here’s to a better tomorrow.