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Natural Support for Stress, Anxiety and Depression

We are ALWAYS here to help and listen.  Here's a complete list of mental health articles on the site.


The "4GoesMad" season on Channel4 was excellent - a subject long overdue some mainstream coverage. The discussion was sensitive, respectful and insightful. These health issues deserve the same level of understanding as any other. You can rest assured that we will always respect and support you if you want to discuss mental health issues.

Stress, anxiety and depression are very different (but can overlap), and can range from mild to severe.  Absolutely no disrespect is meant by referring to them in a general sense. Additionally, there is no intention to “diagnose” here, but simply to present here some general, holistic concepts.

From simple work related stress, to severe clinical depression and everything inbetween, there are many shades and types of mental difficulty.  There may just be physical or mental exhaustion at play, or severe chemical imbalance. Serious or long term mental health issues should always be discussed with your doctor. 

Certain health issues can also cause emotional or cognitive difficulties.  Women in peri or full menopause for example may experience anxiety or depression; addressing the underlying hormonal imbalance would be key. 

But for many (and 1 in 4 people have mental health issues at some time), stress, anxiety and depression, are often transient and / or manageable.  Some simple ideas can turn things around dramatically, or even just give you a new, positive focus during difficult times. 

Let’s Start With the Nutrition

It’s difficult when life gets gets heavy but eating well is crucial.  If there is only one thing you can focus on make it your food, and make it the best you can afford.  If you're finding eating difficult or even impossible, this may be a  sign that professional help is needed.

Pack in the fresh fruit and vegetables.  Eat regularly to ensure blood sugar issues don’t come into play. The omega oils in fresh fish (if not vegetarian) will really help you.  If fish isn’t your thing, consider supplement fish oil form.  Omega oils are known to help mind and mood, and worth noting that those countries with a diet high in fish, have lower rates of depression. 

Eat out and take time to look after yourself if you can.  At the very least make meal times special whether alone or with friends and family.  And this is a time when a few "naughty" treats may be incorporated if it helps you - there are times we don’t need to worry about perfection on the nutrition front!  But some treats aside, eat naturally, and steer clear of refined and processed foods, the high levels of additives and unfriendly nutrients will not help matters; keep it all as fresh and beautiful as you can.

The B vitamins can be depleted quickly when stress and depression are at play.  And because they are so vital for the nervous system and keeping your system calm, this is a simple nutritional strategy that can really help matters.  In our opinion, Zell Oxygen is the most wonderful natural B complex in the world and is highly recommended. It's also packed with natural amino acids that will help serotonin levels.

And we know the gut and the mind are closely related, so lots of fermented foods and probiotics. Read more on this specifically in Probiotics and Anxiety.

Adrenal fatigue may come into play when any physical or emotional strain has been ongoing, and can itself play a role in triggering anxiety.  A teaspoon of Celtic Salt in warm water sipped slowly can work wonders.  Keep at this daily for a few weeks if needs be.   As the thyroid can be affected if this is an issue, look to the amazing Chlorella or the more cost effective (less nutrients but still excellent on the vitamins and minerals front) Kelp for good levels of iodine.  This will not be an issue for everyone however.

 

Exercise

All exercise is helpful, but exercise is difficult when feeling emotionally challenged.  However, this is the second thing to try and focus on as much as you can.  Every time you can lift yourself enough to do even a little exercise, you will experience substantial positive benefits. Getting those “happy hormones” pumping round your system can help much more quickly than you might think.  All movement is healing for mind and body.  You need to find the things you like to do, and do them every day.  Make it happen, take control of your mind by moving your body.  When we sit and dwell on the uncomfortable feelings, they can quickly get worse. If all else fails, simply walk. It will help.



Yoga and Tai Chi

We feel very strongly that the holistic input of these two forms of exercise in particular are incredibly valuable.  Some people may prefer one or the other, incorporating both will be more powerful.  They are also suitable for almost all ages and health levels.  (As ever, any physical concerns should be addressed to your GP).  Of the two, Tai Chi requires the least physical exertion, it is slow and smooth and requires very gentle movement (advanced Tai Chi can require strenuous movement and takes years to master).   But yoga has been proven scientifically.

If you are going to choose just one for helping at times of stress, we would recommend Tai Chi.  Just a few minutes a day will help, but if you can make room for longer, results will be better.

We are not qualified to discuss why these ancient arts are so effective.  But with our own team having found them incredibly beneficial, and many of our customers too, we say give it a try, it really may change your life. There is a whole wealth of information out there for you to explore, books and DVDs may be enough for you, or a local class may provide a better structure.  You might even find a weekend, or week break incorporating one or the other will give you an opportunity to move things along really quickly.

The very lovely people at Tai Chi nation offer a very authentic introduction, and it’s free! http://www.thisisichi.com

Rest and Relaxation

From movement, we move to relaxation.  Sounds easy doesn’t it, but when caught up in what can be a very destructive cycle of stress and depression, it can be easier said than done.  Exercise will actually help the relaxation process!

How do you relax? Do you ever really relax? This may be intricately woven into the very problem you are facing.  Often those suffering with mental health issues can be “wired but tired”. Severe exhaustion and fatigue can be in place at the very same time as a feeling of being over stimulated emotionally and physically, and this feeling can  create unwanted feelings - another cycle continues. 

So you need to find the things that genuinely relax you, and just try, and keep trying.  It might be TV, or reading a book, or walking on the beach, or visiting friends, or eating out, or a visit to the cinema, or listening to music.  Or perhaps indulging your creative side in drawing, arranging flowers, photography or whatever appeals might work for you. 

At the very least, try drawing those curtains, and get some relaxing candles and essential oils on the go, you might like to add some relaxing music.  Even if your mind fights these ideas initially, they should not be underestimated. Keep doing them day in day out, and they will help. we promise

But whatever it is, you are important in all this, so make time for yourself and try and make it special.  Again, we understand all this isn’t necessarily easy, but...

“if you can’t, you must” - Anthony Robbins.

Meditation

Some might think is silly or meaningless, but there are many documented studies proving it can be very powerful when it comes to relaxing and healing the mind.  We can think of no better resource for you on this than Deepak Chopras FREE 21 day meditation course.  It’s one of those things that if it works for you, it may totally change your life for the better, again, give it a try! http://www.chopracentermeditation.com. And do also see the article -Anxiety Eased with Mindfulness Meditation

 

Deep Breathing

"One way to break up any kind of tension is good deep breathing” Byron Nelson

If you're anxious or stressed, one of the first things that can go adrift is your breathing, and as your breathing becomes more shallow, so things worsen, muscles get tight, and you can even feel dizzy and off balance.  But here's a really simple technique that is easier to put into practice than the very vague concept of "breathe deeply".

Alternate nostril breathing is an ancient technique known in both yoga and Ayurvedic medicine.  Whilst very easy to learn and practice, this can be incredibly effective at soothing the mind and nervous system. It is great as a relaxant and and even as an insomnia tool you can use whilst lying in bed!

  • Place your right thumb over your right nostril.
  • Breathe slowly through your left nostril and pause
  • Place a finger over the left nostril, and release your right nostril
  • Exhale smoothly and gently through your right nostril
  • Inhale gently through the right nostril and pause
  • Close right nostril again with your thumb
  • Exhale smoothly and gently through your left nostril
  • Continue this left to right for a few minutes

 

There are other wonderful breathing exercises to be found in the yoga arts that you may wish to explore with a qualified practitioner.

 

Other ideas worth exploring

We are all different. So you need to try anything and everything to find the combination of techiques that work for you.  Here are some more ideas to explore. 

Read - Self Help for Your Nerves by Dr Claire Weeks - Nervous breakdown is not a phrase used so much these days. But just as common - that state of severe exhaustion and collapse when anxiety or overwork has just gone on too long for the body to take. Published in 1962, this book still sells well today for good reason. We recommend it for anyone suffering with "nerves", nervous tension, nervous breakdown, anxiety, generalised fear, or panic attacks

Counselling - the talking type therapies can be very useful for those where mental health issues have some clear origins. And even where they don't, many counsellors can empower you with strategies that work for you.

Acupressure / Shiatsu / Reflexology - your body is amazing, and there are some specific points that will help to relieve mental stress. You may find a visit to a local pracititioner helpful, or a simple Google search such as "anxiety acupressure points" will lead you to some useful resources.

Hypnotherapy / NLP / EFT - there are many complementaty therapies out there that can help with managing mental health issues; it may require some work and research to find what suits you, but if you need practical hands on strategies, then these are therapies worth exploring.

Herbal Teas - there are a range of relaxing teas available from your supermarket and health food store, and we would urge you to have a few different ones in the cupboard, and sip these through the day. Try and keep tea and coffee to a minimum, one or two cups a day is more then plenty for most people.

Flower remedies – these can range from Bach’s flower remedies found in most chemists and health food shops, to bespoke remedies from a specialist practitioner.

Homeopathy / tissue salts – these are seen by some to be controversial, and we do not intend to enter into a discussion on this here.  However, for some people, this may be an intervention worthy of some exploration.

As ever, if you have any questions on any of this, the team will be happy to help you via telephone, email, or the live help desk.

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