If you suffer from stress or related conditions such as anxiety and depression, you certainly aren’t alone.
These are two of the most common illnesses in the world, but fear not; there are many natural ways you ease your stress. Spending more time in nature, yoga and CBD products all harness the power of nature to heal and balance our bodies.
In this post, we highlight the many ways that Mother Nature can help us lead a calmer, more balanced life.
Seated in lotus position at sunset, a woman cups her hands over her heads. Yoga and CBD, like other forms of self-care, can ease stress and anxiety.
THE POWERFUL EFFECTS OF YOGA
Over the past decade, numerous studies have revealed that yoga has the ability to significantly lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Thus, this ancient practice is used in everything from cancer therapy, to substance abuse recovery, eating disorder recovery, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and even recovery from breast cancer.
Researchers believe that stress relief comes from three major sources: the yogic asanas or poses (which involve intense coordination between body and mind), controlled breathing (which lowers the heart and breathing rates) and mindfulness (yoga is often accompanied by meditation, which aims to keep us “in the present moment”).
Mindfulness is one of the most powerful ways we can stop stress in its tracks, because it allows us to escape the frequent ruminations about the past or worry about our future. When we keep the mind in the here and now, we are able to breathe better, focus more, and create a mental state that is incompatible with panic attacks and general anxiety.
A woman practices a yoga handstand atop a mountain. Studies show time spent in the outdoors has measurable benefits.
YOGA AND SPIRITUALITY IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Yoga, especially when performed in the Great Outdoors, can deeply enrich our spirituality, since nature itself has very similar benefits to those bestowed by yoga –– including stress reduction and a deep sense of mindfulness.
Recent research proves that those who are more spiritual, are generally happier. Somehow, believing in a greater power than ourselves enables us feel less insignificant, isolated, and anxious. Yoga helps us tap into our inner need for spirituality, while nature is an outward manifestation of the life force that runs through all of us.
A person dressed all in white practices tai chi on a beach.
HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES TO YOGA
Yoga is far from being the only mindfulness based activity; there are more to choose from, including Tai Chi. Systematic reviews have found that Tai Chi has powerful psychological benefits, including reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. Research currently recommend that Tai Chi be adopted in education institutions because of the many benefits it can bestow on students.
Of course, Tai Chi also has important physical benefits, which are in fact very similar to those of yoga. These benefits include improved flexibility, stability, balance, and lung capacity, along with reducing stress.
YOGA AND CBD FOR STRESS
CBD is increasingly being used to battle stress, owing to its ability to react directly with cell receptors, including serotonin and dopamine receptors. It is vital not to confuse CBD with THC (the cannabinoid responsible for the ‘high effect’ of marijuana). While THC can have many benefits, CBD offers numerous positive effects for its users while leaving their mental state mostly unchanged.
CBD is often taken as an oil but also used topically to treat skin conditions and inflammation, or even consumed in sweets like gummies. It is just one of the many naturally occurring compounds found in all cannabis plants. Because of how CBD interacts with serotonin and dopamine receptors in the brain and nervous system, more of these neurotransmitters can flow through the body, resulting in a greater sense of calm and wellbeing.
CBD MIMICS THE HUMAN BODY’S NATURAL ‘CANNABINOIDS’
In the early 1990s, researchers discovered the endocannabinoid system, a part of the nervous system which is responsible for important functions including mood, pain tolerance, memory, sleep, and appetite.
A model of a CBD model. A growing amount of evidence shows CBD, found in all cannabis plants, can benefit humanity.
It also helps maintain homeostasis, the self-regulating process through which the body tends to maintain stability while adjusting to conditions changing conditions in order to promote its own survival. This stability, commonly referred to as a ‘dynamic equilibrium,’ helps maintain temperature, blood oxygen levels, moisture, etc.
The endocannabinoid system has receptors throughout the body; these are put into action by important neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids. CBD mimics these endocannabinoids, and can thus help the body maintain many vital functions. Thus, CBD has benefits that extend beyond stress-busting; it also promotes heart health, helps fight inflammation, promotes healthy skin and hair, and more.
A MULTI-LAYER APPROACH TO BATTLING STRESS
If you think you may have anxiety or depression, it is important to check in with a doctor. Working alongside your therapist or other health professionals, you can take many approaches to battling these conditions.
It is important to tackle stress from a multi-layered perspective, too. Holistic activities such as yoga, Tai Chi, mindfulness meditation, and time spent in nature have proven to be a useful complementary therapy for anxiety and other stress-related conditions. CBD, an almost miraculous supplement made from natural hemp, can be an important part of our anti-stress toolkit too.
Whatever approach you take, if you make time to care for yourself and your wellbeing then every other part of your life will seem a little bit easier.