Living Close to Nature


Monika Rakowski

Monica Rakowski

Nature's best way to beat stress

Stress is an inescapable part of life. It may take the form of taxes, difficulties at work, or a traffic jam. The sources are endless. A little can be good, but overwhelming stress takes a toll on our health and leads to disease. Eastern medicine has many strategies to deal with the toxic stress that knocks us out of balance.

Analyze your stress. Separate your stressors into things you can change and things you can't. Do something about the things you can change, and accept the rest. There is peace in surrendering.

Take time to relax. When stress overcomes you, relaxation should become a high priority on your to do list. You are no good to anyone if your cup is empty. Only a full cup can overflow and give to others. Find a quiet place and take long, deep breaths for ten minutes. Get a massage. Read a good book. Take time to be alone and recharge.

Let it out. The worst thing you can do for your health is hold your negative emotions inside. This is the true source of disease. Release your emotions. Have a good cry. Journal. Talk to a friend. Scream. Punch a pillow.

Use herbs. Herbal medicine approaches stress by strengthening the nervous system. Herbs such as chamomile, valerian, lavender, lemon balm, and hops are just a few of the beneficial herbs that will soothe your rattled nerves. Make a cup of chamomile tea. Take a lavender bath. Take valerian before bed for restful sleep.

Exercise. Although it may be the last thing you feel like doing, breaking a sweat is an effective way to combat stress. The endorphins give you the kick you need to get through your next challenge.

Practice yoga. Yoga soothes the nervous system, strengthens the body, and calms the mind. Many new yogis get the "yoga high" that they continue to chase in every future practice.

Meditate. Daily meditation clears your mind of the chatter and worry that overtakes us in stressful times. Take a seated position and watch your breath as you inhale and exhale. As thoughts arise, observe them without judgment and let them drift away until your mind is clear and focused. You will soon feel a deep sense of calm.

Acupuncture. If needles don't bother you, acupuncture is a sure way to relax. It works directly with the nervous system. There is a point on your ears that one acupuncturist of mine called the "valium points." Once the needles touch those points, it is instant relaxation. Get out in nature. There is something about the fresh air, the water and the trees that soothes your spirit. Just getting outside for an hour can work wonders on your mental health. Gardening is an excellent way to get your nature time in. The beneficial microbes in the soil will release seratonin in your body, which boosts your mood.

I encourage you to try all of these methods. Doing only one might help, but together, they will bring you back to balance.

Monica Rakowski owns KP Indoor Garden Store in Key Center and blogs at