If you feel yourself coming down with a case of the winter blues, don't worry, there are plenty of remedies that don't require a trip to the pharmacy. Dr. Natasha Rudd, a naturopathic practitioner at Sage Health Center, shares some tips to help keep stresses away naturally.
According to Rudd, stress is best managed through three interwoven categories. The first and most important foundational category is lifestyle habits, the activities we choose to make time for in our routine.
"Things like meditation, mindfulness, regular exercise, intentional breathing, having good sleep," says Rudd. "It's the basic obvious things, but if we're not doing them then we're already setting ourselves up for stress."
The second category is diet. Rudd says mood and behavior are closely linked to what we eat. She emphasizes the importance of always eating balanced meals and being sure enough fruits and veggies make it onto the plate.
"They have tons of antioxidants, which are going to help prevent things like oxidative stress and the side effects of what stress does to the body," Rudd says. She also recommends eating organic whenever possible. "There's a lot of stuff that's on foods and by going organic we're at least decreasing our exposure to some of those things that can be detrimental if we're dealing with stress already."
An aspect of the diet category that's too often overlooked, according to Rudd, is food hygiene. Do you sit down to eat meals? Do you chew your food all the way through? Does your plate look like a painters' palate of colored vegetables?
"It's some of those things that sometimes we don't think about when we're in a rush," Rudd says. "When we're eating we're supposed to be in that rest and digest mode."
Finally, if the first two categories have been addressed and the stress still lingers there's the treatment and supplement category. Dosing should be done on an individual basis because everyone's needs vary, but Rudd says vitamins C and D, and multivitamins with Bs, as well as botanical herbs like kava, scullcap, and chamomile work well to decrease stress.
"When we're stressed out, our bodies are depleted of our vital vitamins, minerals, and nutrients and we need to replace that if we're not getting it from our diet," Rudd says. "People who are stressed tend to not have a lot of time on their hands and food can fall to the wayside, so that's when you have to think about adding supplements."
In addition, treatments such as acupuncture, constitutional hydrotherapy, detox, and castor oil packs over the abdomen and liver are known to help decrease stress.
But according to Rudd, stress will never permanently dissipate unless one tackles the underlying culprit.
"I deal with a lot of people where their job is one of the biggest stressors in their life, and yet they don't do anything to try and make that situation better. As a result, it keeps coming back," she says. "There needs to be some strategies in place to address the triggers that are creating the stress because you can't stop life. What we can address is our response to that stress."