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tips for easing stress: man meditating

Top Tips For Easing Stress From A Neurologist And Herbologist

No matter what time of year, there’s one complaint I hear about more than any other: stress. Whatever the source of tension—finances, family, co-workers, you name it—it seems like most people are usually stressed about something.

The good news is that there are super-simple and accessible steps you can take to cope better with whatever crops up (and no, I’m not referring to drinking wine!). As a conventionally-trained integrative neurologist and herbalist, I’m well-versed in helping people thrive through even the most stressful of times. Here are my favorite tips.

Set a bedtime—and Stick to It

Good sleep is the foundation of feeling less stressed out. It’s like putting money in your body’s bank account so that you have plenty of reserves should challenges come your way. Everything runs more smoothly when you have extra padding in the bank! And here’s the thing about good sleep: It starts with setting a bedtime. 

I know, I know. You’re thinking to yourself, I’m an adult. I don’t need a bedtime! But you probably do. With social media scrolling, binging your favorite show until 3 a.m., getting sucked into ads for the perfect pair of pajamas, and trying to complete that last thing on your to-do list, bedtime is an important boundary to set for yourself.

Whatever time you choose, you’ll want to start getting ready for bed around 30 minutes in advance. If you’re going 100 miles per hour until the minute you hit the hay, it’ll likely take way longer for you to settle down and fall asleep. So, half an hour before bedtime, dim the lights (including on your screens), take a warm bath or shower, and sip a cup of chamomile tea. If falling asleep is still an issue for you, melatonin can also be helpful.

Find some red light 

While excessive blue light is not your friend, a little red light can work wonders. Whether it’s using a small red light panel or a sauna with red light capabilities, exposing yourself to red light for 15 to 60 minutes per day helps balance your fight-or-flight response by activating your parasympathetic nervous system (which helps your body “rest and digest”).

Read More: Signs Your Nervous System Is Shot—And How To Restore Balance

Red light not only increases relaxation but also boosts your endorphins and elevates your mood and energy levels (and that’s in addition to improving muscle and wound healing, as well as rejuvenating your skin).

While you’re sitting with a red light, you can daydream, meditate, listen to calming music, or read a good book—any of which can also help take stress levels down a few notches. Creating intentional periods of relaxation and spaciousness in your day goes a really, really long way—and combining some of that time with some red light? A double win.

Incorporate calming supplements

A variety of different supplements can help take a boil down to a simmer. For instance, L-theanine is an amino acid that helps you feel calm, but not sedated. It’s most effective for three to five hours and best taken on an empty stomach for its fullest effect.

You can also supplement with certain mushrooms, including reishi, lion’s mane, and cordyceps, which are well-known to be adaptogenic, meaning they offer you additional resilience against any stressor you may face.

Traditionally known as “the supreme protector”, reishi has been called the ultimate anti-stress remedy. Reishi calms what Chinese medicine calls the “shen,” which is translated as “the spirit” or “heart-mind,” allowing you to feel centered and grounded. It has also been shown to ease mild worry and low mood.

Read More: The Best Adaptogens For Every Wellness Need

Lion’s mane is great for easing stress, while boosting your memory and supporting emotional well-being in the process.

Cordyceps, meanwhile, is for you if you want to manage stress, balance your blood sugar, age gracefully, and boost your libido.

Get out in nature

Sounds too easy, right? This tip is simple but legit. According to studies, time in nature actually makes you feel happier and calmer. It even reduces stress hormones like cortisol. You’ll walk away feeling more focused, will sleep better that night, and your immune system will get a turbo boost by amping up natural killer cells that seek and destroy any potential infection. 

Dr. Maya Shetreat MD headshot

Dr. Shetreat is a neurologist, herbologist, and author of The Dirt Cure, in which she presents a nutritional plan for getting and keeping children healthy. She works and studies with indigenous communities and healers from around the world, and is the founder of the Terrain Institute, where she teaches earth-based programs for transformational healing.

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