10 ways to relieve stress naturally

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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Stress is a normal and unavoidable part of life, but too much stress can affect your physical, emotional and mental health.

Excessive chronic stress can result in negative health symptoms including anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system and many more symptoms.

On Tuesday's Good Morning Arizona, we spoke to Dr. Ed Lamadrid, a doctor of acupuncture and oriental medicine. Dr. Ed has been called the “Dr. Oz” of alternative medicine! His mission is to bring a healthy lifestyle and holistic medicine to everyone. 

He suggested 10 ways to relief stress naturally:

1. Passionflower

A few studies have shown that the herb may actually be comparable in effectiveness to many anti-anxiety drugs, which are used to treat stress. Passionflower is available in a variety of forms, including infusions, teas, liquid extracts and tinctures. It is not recommended for children or for women who are pregnant or nursing.

2. Massage

Everybody loves a massage. But did you know that it's been used as a stress reliever for thousands of years? Historically, Asian countries used massage to open blocked energy channels in order to improve health and Hippocrates, the "father of western medicine," used friction for physical healing treatments. To find a licensed massage therapist in your area, go to www.amtamassage.com. For a low cost option, visit the massage clinic at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in Tempe, https://swiha.edu/services-and-events/massage-clinic/

3. Meditation

Meditation, or mindfulness, only takes 15 to 30 minutes a day, which is possible even with the busiest of schedules. Try Transcendental meditation which has been the subject of over 350 research studies that found it highly effective for lessening stress, anxiety and more. Need some guidance or instruction? Go to http://www.tm.org/transcendental-meditation-phoenix

4. Exercise

Whether it's Zumba, yoga, Tai Chi or running, exercise has the added benefit of releasing endorphins into the brain, which improves your mood. It also prevents obesity and other health problems, giving you less to be stressed about.

5. Acupuncture

It may not seem that being poked by needles would be relaxing, but acupuncture users swear by it. Many people feel that 20 minutes of acupuncture is as relaxing as a 1 hour massage. To find a licensed acupuncturist in your area go to www.nccaom.org.

6. Eat healthy

It's a vicious cycle that when we are depressed we crave junk food that is comforting (not to mention overweight) so clean up your diet. Healthy foods can give you more energy to exercise (see #4). According to researchers, foods that are especially effective for stress-busting include blueberries, salmon and almonds. Also cut back on the caffeine, which could affect your sleep cycle, making you jittery and anxious.

7. Limit Internet, cell phone, tablet use

Unless you are the supreme ruler of your own country, you don't really need to check your email or status on social media, especially right before bed. Electronic use right before bed can cause insomnia related problems. Disconnect, disconnect, disconnect. By turning away from the Internet and shutting off our cell phones, we can at least block some of the channels from which stress can reach us. Doing this also allows us to live in the moment and appreciate it.

8. B Vitamins

B vitamins are known as Stress vitamins. When we are under stress, our bodies burn through this vitamin group quickly and may leave us deficient. They promote proper functioning of the brain and nervous system, as well as help induce relaxation and fight fatigue. In fact, symptoms of B deficiency include irritability, depression and apathy, so to prevent those symptoms, increase your intake of foods rich in B vitamins or use a good quality supplement. B vitamins are typically found in the germ and bran of cereal grains, as well as beans, peas, nuts, liver, eggs and dairy products.

9. Aromatherapy

In some cases, inhaling certain scents has been shown to have immediate stress relief effects by raising mood, reducing anxiety and aiding focus and concentration. Essential oils have been shown to stimulate the limbic system, which in turn releases chemicals that affect the brain, promoting feelings of relaxation, calmness, love and excitement. Popular oils for stress relief and mental fatigue include lavender, chamomile, cypress and rosemary.

10. Sleep

Getting enough good quality sleep is the most important stress reliever of them all. We've all been there: too little sleep leaves us cranky, irritable and on edge and too much sleep can leave us sluggish and depressed. Many companies have seen the effectiveness of letting their employees take a nap in the middle of the afternoon; making employees more productive and mentally sharp. Certain foods can also promote sleep, such as bananas, peanuts, figs, dairy, herbal teas (such as chamomile and lavender) and - of course, turkey. However, avoid having a large meal close to bedtime, because it may result in indigestion, reflux or heartburn.

For more information, visit: http://www.edlamadrid.com/home

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