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Health & Balance

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Managing Stress Naturally

WebMD Feature from "Country Living" Magazine

By Kathryn Drury

Country Living Magazine Feeling tense? Let these natural techniques help you relax and rejuvenate.

If you've been feeling more stress than usual, there are natural techniques that can help you restore your calm.

Your lifestyle can be modified to help you stay calm. If you're feeling a little anxious, try the following:

Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, and herbs including guarana, Chinese ephedra, and ma huang, all of which are sometimes sold as "tonics" or "energizers." They force your body to produce adrenalin, which will make you more wired.

Take an occasional "news fast" and don't read the paper or watch television for a day or two. You'll be amazed how little you miss, and how much better you feel.

According to Dr. Andrew Weil, author of Natural Health, Natural Medicine (Houghton Mifflin, 1998), a half hour of moderate exercise, such as a brisk walk, each day is a great way to stay healthy and sleep well. However, Weil points out that it should be paired with something that helps you process stress differently, such as yoga, meditation, or tai chi.

Pay attention to the sounds in your life. It's well known that rock music is a stimulant, for example, but everyday noise such as honking horns can just grate on you. A fountain, heavier curtains, or a sound machine can help block out unwanted external stimuli.

Try a calming herbal bath, such as this one from herbalist Rosemary Gladstar: In a cotton cloth or bandanna, mix 2 parts dried lavender flowers, 1 part hops, 1 part sage, 1⁄2 part rosemary, and a few drops of lavender essential oil. Tie the herb bundle directly to the nozzle of the bathtub so that the water runs over it. Run hot water through the bag until the tub is half-filled, then adjust the temperature by adding cold water.

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