Naturopath Angela Haldane says a simple reboot can help you start the year on an invigorating natural high. Here are her all-natural ways to manage stress.
As we welcome a new year, I am always grateful that each year has a beginning and an end. It’s an opportunity back, evaluate, and ask: “What could I have done better?”
The majority of the webinars and research on health matters I’ve encountered lately have named stress as an underpinning driver that can alter our blood chemistry, increase inflammation and fool us into making poor dietary and lifestyle choices. If we were to take another approach to stress, what would that look like? Imagine the ripple effect on those around us.
According to Dr Joe Dispenza, author of Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, people become addicted to the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. If you tend to feel good in a crisis or thrive on drama, reading this book may help you unravel the underlying emotions that make you respond to life events in the way you do. We all have the power to change the way we react, and I’ve recommended this book to my clients for many years. The feedback is that this has been truly transformative for them.
In the book, Joe says, “Most thoughts are just old circuits in your brain that have been hardwired by your repetitive volition. Thus, you have to ask yourself, ‘Is this thought true, or is it just what I think and believe while I’m thinking this way?’ These are echoes from your past that are connected to strong feelings, which activate old circuits in your brain and cause you to react in predictable ways. When you un-memorise the negative emotion of your personality, you eliminate the destructive, unconscious behaviour.”
Joe guides readers through a process of change, so that every time you notice or redirect these limiting influences, you can conserve vital energy that you can instead use to create a new life.
Brew up (and soak up) a good mood
In the kitchen, herbal medicine has a lot to offer us in terms of managing stress. Chamomile tea is a relaxing brew for both the mind and the gut, and lemon balm is great for anxiety and is also known to lift the mood. As a student, I had to drink lemon balm tea for two solid weeks and report back on the experience. I noticed that during this time, I found most things amusing rather than a chore.
Soaked oats and blueberries will feed the microbiota in your gut, favouring the beneficial bacteria. This will in turn help improve your mood. Oats are also a good source of B vitamins, which can become depleted when we’re stressed.
If you need support for your adrenals and stamina, a medical herbalist or naturopath can give advice, address any underlying causes and recommend appropriate diet and lifestyle amendments.
Get into a better place
To rebalance the mind, I recommend that you head to nature for your daily exercise. This will boost endorphins, which will enhance your sense of wellbeing and strengthen your body.
I love to walk in the bush – most days this is a good 5km hike, as we need to check our pest traps. I always make sure I take an extra moment to listen to the birdsong, the bubbling brook and the rustling leaves, and inhale the rich scent of humus. In these moments, you can practically feel your cortisol levels reduce. Ideas come to mind, creativity emerges and big discussions evolve – all of which can put you in a far better place than you were in before.
In New Zealand, we have many opportunities to head to the coast to get our fill of waves splashing over rocks, or find a river with swirling pools. These environments produce negative ions that really reinvigorate you.
Make it a priority in your day to seek time in nature. You might find a spot a mere 10 minutes up the road. Take a thermos, share the experience with those around you, and cherish it.
Ngā mihi o te tau hou.
Angela Haldane – alias Natural Ange – is a naturopath, medical herbalist and former registered nurse. See naturalange.co.nz.