Are you stressed at the holidays? Who isn’t? Prepping for the new year, social gatherings whether you want them or not, budgeting extra for gifts– pressure 101. But good news! These five natural stress remedies I have for you might be the answer.
Quickie: holiday cookies and Hallmark movies don’t hurt! But might not solve the problem. Piling down the rabbit hole or up to your ears in sugar can actually lead to more stress.
Try my High Five instead!
Bergamot Essential Oil
Citrus Bergamot is an extract derived from the bergamot orange fruit. It’s been clinically shown to support heart health by promoting healthy cholesterol, blood sugar and triglyceride levels, and supporting blood vessel function.
But those aren’t the only benefits of bergamot. When made into an essential oil, it can help reduce anxiety and stress. A 2015 study found that it relieves stress and improves mood in both animals and humans.
Star of Bethlehem Flower Essence
For those of you who might just be learning about flower essences, this is a system of plant-based remedies designed to promote and balance emotional well-being. The flower essence therapy was developed in the 1930s by Dr. Edward Bach.
He designed Flower Essence Therapy to be as simple as possible, “I want to make it as simple as this: If I am hungry, I will go and pull a lettuce from the garden; if I am frightened and ill, I will take a dose of Mimulus.” There were 38 original remedies with details provided on how to use them.
Dr. Bach promoted the idea that flower essences could be used by anyone alongside the care given by their family doctor. Regulators agreed and so this medicine has always been available on the open market for anyone to use.
One of the flower essences, Star of Bethlehem, is described as a remedy for states of grief and shock. Dr. Bach described it as. “For those in great distress under conditions which for a time produce great unhappiness. The shock of serious news, the loss of someone dear, the fright following an accident, and such like.” Whether from a current event or stemming from the past, Star of Bethlehem may provide comfort and calm in the storm of distress or unhappiness.
Lavender might be one of the most well known natural remedies for stress. It is known for its calming properties and can even be a solution for anxiety, sleeplessness, or stress. Lavender calms the body through impacting the limbic system, the area of the brain that controls emotions.
A systematic review and meta-analysis from 2019 which aimed to assess the efficacy of lavender on anxiety and anxiety-related conditions found that “overall, oral administration of lavender essential oil proves to be effective in the treatment of anxiety.”
Leaving a nice sachet of lavender under your pillow or in an easy to grab place for when you feel stress could be a great way to feel calmer. It’s a medicinal herb you’ll want around your house, especially when stressed.
Honeysuckle: Herbal Support for Mind, Body & Spirit
A practice as old as time… sending, sharing, and cooking with specific flowers to express a sentiment, be it hope, sorrow, peace, joy, or love. Known as floriography, flowers have long been used to reveal sentiments of love and affection, and, if arranged in a certain way, they could even convey a secret message or meaning. Honeysuckle was one such flower used to relay deep affection and strengthen the bonds of love.
Recognized by a delicately sweet aroma and long vines dappled with unusually-shaped pink or yellow-orange blossoms, Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) flower extracts have many medicinal benefits. Honeysuckle has been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels and have antibacterial and antiviral properties. Externally, the flowers are applied as a wash to skin inflammations, rashes, and sores.
Though there are many ways to prepare Japanese honeysuckle, tea is one of the most popular. Teas made from honeysuckle leaves, buds and flowers can be enjoyed on their own or in combination with other “like-minded” herbs such as passiflora or lemon balm. A complement to its use in strengthening the bonds of love, honeysuckle is also seen as a useful aid in letting go of the past, releasing memories, and moving forward with life, one sweet sip at a time.
While essential oils and flowers are great for relieving stress, nothing beats the stress relief of spending time outside. Going outside can be a great way to feel happier and to get out of negative thought patterns. Getting outside doesn’t just take you from stressed to neutral, but stressed to relaxed and happy.
A 2019 study found spending 10 minutes or more in nature 3 times a week can reduce biological indicators of stress by over 20%. This is because spending time outside helps you disconnect from stressors and reconnect to your natural environment.
Not only that, but time in nature can make you happier too! A 2020 study discussed the direct relationship between nature and happiness. Spending time in green space improved overall mood and mental health in adults. It’s also been shown to improve cognition and creativity, two other indicators of happiness.
Curious how to spend more time outside? Check out the health benefits of some of my overall favorite nature activities or winter nature activities you can do in colder climates.
While Christmas cookies are tasty in moderation, there may be better ways to manage stress than turning to unhealthy foods or indoor activities. Nature provides us with some of the most effective remedies for stress, including honeysuckle, star of bethlehem, bergamot, lavender, or simply stepping outside.
If you’d like to learn more about the health benefits of nature, consider subscribing to my weekly newsletter. Each week I’ll send you advice on how to use nature as medicine for free. When you sign up, you’ll also get my guide to be less stressed this week using nature.