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The world we are living in can be a stressful one, and for many of us, the worries of everyday life can weigh us down. We worry about our health, money, our family, job security- not to mention the world around us and all that is happening on a daily basis.

Stress takes its toll on our bodies and mind. Not only do we feel mentally drained and depressed, but it can also affect our sleep, memory and overall quality of life. Stress can also increase blood pressure, promote severe weight gain/loss and even diabetes. If severe stress is repeatedly experienced, or if stress becomes chronic-it can cause damage to blood vessels and arteries which increases the risk for hypertension, heart attack or stroke.

So with all the worries you take on, how can you calm yourself down?

There are ways to manage and lower your stress. It can take some leg work and practice, but the reward will surely be worth it.

Exercise

Our bodies need exercise, it is the most important thing you can do to help combat stress. Seems odd doesn’t it? When we’re stressed, the last thing we may want is to go exercise, many of us just want to sit down and try to relax, but the truth is exercise actually releases endorphins, which are chemicals that improve your mood and act as natural painkillers. Exercise also lowers your body’s stress hormones.

Working out and exercising may also help your quality of sleep as well.


Meditation

You may be thinking this is cliche, but meditation is actually a great way to escape your own mind and find peace. Here are some meditation steps you can follow to calm your body and mind.

  • Find a quiet space where you feel safe and at ease. 
  • Breathe deeply and slowly. Allow your mind to focus solely on your breathing.
  • Mentally can your body, be aware of any tension in your muscles, places of comfort or discomfort, the feel of the floor beneath your feet. Begin to pay attention to the natural rhythm of your breathing.
  • Repeat a mantra. This can be anything you find that is tailored to you. It can be of a religious aspect or some small phrase you find soothing. It could be as simple as “Just let it go”
  • Don’t let your mind wander. It’s inevitable for your mind to wander, so try to bring it back by focusing on your breathing and focusing on the sounds around you.


Healthy Diet

We all know eating healthy is crucial for our overall health and wellness but some foods actually have the ability to boost serotonin and affect our mood. Eating processed food, foods high in refined sugar and fried foods can actually worsen stress, anxiety and even depression, they just strip you of nutrients. 
A healthy diet will not only keep your stress levels down and mind healthy, but your body will also thank you. 


Take Time For You

You time is important. We all need self love. A bubble bath, shopping trip, manicure, relaxing walk through the park, movie night alone in bed, whatever you desire! Life is busy, but taking time for ourselves is also a priority. Sometimes we just need a little bit of alone time to do something for us. It is a great way to rejuvenate the soul and even self reflect. 


Deep Breathing

If you find yourself in a partially stressful situation, deep breathing works wonders. Take a minute to focus on deep breaths. In and out. Close your eyes and focus on just the inhale and exhale of your chest. Clear your mind and listen to your breathing. Repeat this as often as necessary throughout the day or during any stressful moments.

Don’t Isolate Yourself

Alone time is always crucial, but when we are feeling stressed or anxious, surrounding ourselves with those we love, is great medicine. Making time to sit down with a friend or family is a great way to unwind. Laughing, sharing memories or just talking about everyday life helps keep our mind distracted and also reminds us of the good times.

Incorporate Supplements

We try to eat a healthy diet but sometimes we are lacking certain vitamins. And sometimes the vitamins we are lacking, are actually ones that can help keep our stress levels in balance.

For example:

Magnesium: 
Magnesium is an important nutrient for the brain and body. Magnesium also plays an important role in your body’s response to stress. When we feel stressed, our body actually ramps up magnesium excretion. So the more we stress, the more of the magnesium our body uses up. If these levels are not replenished, it could affect our mood in negative ways such as more stress and depression. 

Magnesium also increases GABA (a neurotransmitter that blocks impulses between nerve cells in the brain)-which encourages relaxation as well as sleep. Low GABA levels can make it difficult for us to relax. So it makes sense that our levels need to be high in order for us to feel more relaxed.

Keeping our magnesium levels up will keep our magnesium stored for when our stress depletes us.

Calming down is easier than you might think. It just takes some leg work and some practice. It won’t happen overnight but these tips will get you on your way to feeling more like yourself and lifting some of that heavy stress off your shoulders.



Find more great supplements here and save up to 25% off! 


Resources:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-foods-that-reduce-anxiety#TOC_TITLE_HDR_8

https://canprev.ca/blog/magnesium-anxiety-depression-and-the-brain/#:~:text=depression%20and%20anxiety.-,GABA%20Receptors,control%2C%20vision%2C%20and%20anxiety.

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If you are looking to restore your energy, look younger, and reverse disease then ashwagandha may be the herb you’re looking for.

The Indian herb ashwagandha (withania somnifera) is one of the most highly regarded botanicals in the 5,000-year-old system of natural medicine known as Ayurveda.  It’s known as the “strength of the stallion,” since it has traditionally been used to strengthen the immune system after illness.

Considered a rasayana (life extender), ashwagandha root is used with excellent results for overall vitality. In the Indian Materia Medica, which is a compendium of beneficial botanicals, ashwagandha is described as beneficial for general debility, impotence, brain fatigue, low sperm count, nervous exhaustion and in cases in which general vigor needs to be restored.

Ashwagandha, which is an excellent source of antioxidants, is classified as an adaptogen, meaning that it improves the capacity of a person to adapt to environmental, physical and mental changes and stresses by modifying the metabolism and other processes in the body.

Adaptogens improve cell replenishment, which in turn reduces fatigue symptoms and exhaustion, while increasing the resilience of the body and imparting more stamina for physical activities.

Major Benefit #1: Boost Natural Energy (The Kind You Want!)

A lot of people are hooked on the temporary energy obtained from caffeine. Energy from caffeine comes from the stimulation of the central nervous system. There’s nothing wrong with this, but if you rely on caffeine alone for energy you’ll eventually experience a crash.

You can also increase energy by enhancing the body’s own energy-producing mechanisms within cells. Notably, the primary unit of cellular energy, which is called ATP.

And that’s what ashwagandha extract does. It causes the cells in the body to produce more cellular ATP. The result is energy–without the jitters.

In a study published in Phytotherapy Research, 25 people were given 300 milligrams of the proprietary ashwagandha extract KSM-66 twice a day, while another 25 participants were given a placebo.

Overall, subjects given ashwagandha extract experienced substantial reductions in blood concentrations of the stress hormone cortisol. This resulted in reduced levels of stress and anxiety and at the same time, improved energy levels.

There’s a large body of psychiatric science showing that lower stress levels are linked to a decrease in moderate anxiety and depression.

Reducing stress liberates energy in the body and has a specific enlivening effect in the brain, relieving mental fog and enhancing mental alertness.

Major Benefit #2: Improve Thyroid (The Master Hormone Control) Health

I consider ashwagandha a superfood when it comes to improving the health of your thyroid. Scientists don’t completely understand how adaptogens work, but we know they can be extremely effective, especially at balancing hormones.

One of the most incredible aspects about adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha is that it can help people with both hypo and hyper thyroid issues. It has been shown to support a sluggish thyroid for people diagnosed with Hashimotos, and has been shown to improve the health of those with an overactive thyroid or Graves disease.

Adaptogenic herbs work with your body to bring you back into balance whether your hormone levels are high or low.

Animal studies reveal ashwagandha has a thyroid hormone balancing effect.

In a 20-day study, mice were give ashwagandha and their T3 and T4 levels were analyzed along with lipid peroxidation (anti-oxidant protection). Significant increases in serum T4 were found which indicates this herb has a stimulatory effect on a sluggish thyroid.

There are currently millions of people who struggle with thyroid problems (many who don’t even know it) and ashwagandha may just be the solution they are searching for.

This hormonal improvement was also accompanied by a noticeable reduction in hair loss.

Major Benefit #3: Skyrockets Brain Health and Protects Against Alheimer’s

Emotional, physical, and chemical stress can all have damaging effects to the brain and nervous system. Recent research has proven ashwagandha is more than a stress reliever, it also protects the brain from degeneration and improves symptoms of alzheimer’s, depression, and anxiety.

One of the main reasons ashwagandha is so effective at healing the brain has to do with it’s powerful antioxidants that destroy free radicals that cause aging. A study published in Phytotherapy Research explain these benefits:

“Several studies have revealed that natural antioxidants, such as vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene, may help in scavenging free radicals generated during the initiation and progression of this [Alzheimer’s] disease. But we found Ashwagandha afforded lipid peroxidation inhibitory effects more potent than commercial antioxidants.”

Researchers at the National Brain Research Centre found mice with alzheimer’s were unable to retain what they learned, but after 20 days of supplementing with ashwagandha, this improved significantly. The results of the study found a reduction in amyloid plaques (these cause degradation of the brain).

Major Benefit #4: Mood Enhancement

There is also now evidence that ashwagandha is effective at healing both anxiety and depression. In fact, in a recent study its results were comparable to common pharmaceutical drugs lorazepam and imipramine–without the side effects.

In the 12-week controlled study, 87 participants with anxiety were given 300mg of ashwagandha two times a day or two placebo pills two times per day. The group treated with ashwagandha resulted in much greater improvements in anxiety as well as focus, reduced stress, and decreased fatigue than the placebo group.

The other major benefit of ashwagandha is that there are no adverse reactions by taking it compared to anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications which can have terrible side effects.

Major Benefit #5: Increases Stamina and Endurance

Studies have shown that ashwagandha can boost endurance during physical activity by sharpening brain function and reducing bodily pain.

Due to its positive calming, yet energizing, effects on the brain and ability to lower stress hormones, ashwagandha showed improvements in concentration, motivation, and stamina in conducted studies.

One particular study found that when lab rats were given ashwagandha, they actually were able to swim twice as long compared to the same type of rats that were not given the supplements.

Researchers believe similar effects take place in humans due to the extract’s ability to balance adrenal hormones that are involved in physical activity. The extract was also shown to reduce bodily pain in the muscles and joints while at the same time keeping energy levels more steady. Another reason it could be a promising supplement for athletes, or for those who find it difficult to be physically active due to pain.

As you can see, ashwagandha is an adaptogenic superstar that can have some tremendous health benefits.

We have found an excellent product which contains organic ashwagandha, and includes a combination of many powerful superfoods, two of which have been endorsed by Nobel Prize winning scientists who recognize it’s natual ability to also hydrate the boy and erase age spots.

Here’s the rest of the story…

 

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depression-brain-damage-meditation - ih_150213_brain_meditation_800x600

It’s estimated that 1 out of every 10 Americans suffers from depression, and the condition affects approximately 350 million people worldwide. Perhaps most alarmingly, researchers are finding that depression diagnoses are increasing by 20% every year—and that doesn’t even count those who never see a doctor about their troubles.[1]

You’ve surely noticed that all is not well in the world. These statistics suggest that our bodies are also well aware of the world’s imbalances.

The way in which depression erodes hope for a better future is detrimental to people’s lives, especially at a time like now, when our society is so sorely in need of the inspiration required to achieve real progress.

And the effects of depression are not just emotional and psychological—the physical body suffers too. For starters, depression is strongly correlated with obesity, heart disease, stroke, and sleep disorders.[2] Inflammation—often called the root of all disease—is also closely linked with the condition (more on that later).

But recent studies have confirmed one of the most worrying effects of all: brain damage.

Depression alters the brain’s structure

Depression has long been associated with mere changes in brain chemistry, but scientists now know that the condition perturbs the brain much more deeply.

An international team of researchers found that those who had experienced recurrent bouts of depression had a smaller hippocampus—and the more bouts of depression, the smaller the hippocampus.[3]

This finding aligned with those of previous studies, which had demonstrated that depressed patients tend to have smaller hippocampuses. These earlier researchers preferred to assume, however, that this altered brain structure was a predisposing factor for depression (rather than assuming that the damage was caused by the depression). But because shrinkage becomes worse as the number of depressive episodes increase, it has become clear to researchers that the reduction in the size of the hippocampus is a form of brain damage that follows as a result of recurrent depression.

Here’s why this alteration in brain structure is worthy of concern: the hippocampus is critical for memory and emotion. An under-functioning hippocampus can lead to compromised memory, loss of emotional capacity, decreased sense of self, increased anxiety, and extreme introversion.

In short, depression is a vicious cycle—the more damaged by depression the hippocampus becomes, the more likely the person is to lapse back into depressive states.

But there is hope…

Luckily, relief from depression is within reach. Hippocampal damage has been shown to be reversible, but you have to be willing to take action.

Pharmaceutical antidepressants obviously aren’t the answer, judging by the fact that more people than ever are taking them, and no one seems to be getting better.

Here’s why: drug-centric depression therapy is based on the erroneous assumption that depression is caused by imbalances in brain chemicals. More and more researchers are finding that, while brain chemical imbalance is correlated with depression, it’s very likely not the cause.

Therefore, pills that seek to correct chemical imbalances will inevitably be unable to address the real underlying causes of depression. This is not to say that they aren’t a valid, helpful option in certain situations, but only that you should be wary of believing in them as a magic bullet. And because of the myriad side effects that accompany their usage, I’d encourage you to look into natural alternatives first.

The truth of the matter is that most people who successfully overcome depression (with or without drugs) do so through prominent lifestyle practices.

Eating a detoxifying, anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense, probiotic-rich diet works wonders, and has even been called “the key to the successful treatment of depression” by some health experts.”[4] This is because, as it turns out, systemic inflammation is likely a direct cause of depression (nutrient deficiency, environmental toxins, microbiome imbalance all lead to inflammation within the body).

Regular exercise is immensely helpful, as well, especially when combined with a healthy diet. Studies found that participants who didn’t engage in any physical activity all had a 99% greater chance of developing depression, and that regular exercise as a depression treatment surpassed the efficacy of pharmaceutical drugs.[5]  

And then there’s one other depression-fighting lifestyle practice, the power of which scientists are just beginning to understand…

Meditation: the most underrated brain builder

Despite a mountain of emerging evidence demonstrating its incredible health benefits, meditation is still an underutilized tool, particularly by those suffering from depression and searching for fast relief.

New research has shown, though, that meditation alters brain structure as powerfully as depression—and it does so in amazingly beneficial ways. It increases grey matter volume, enhances connectivity between many different brain regions,[6] and even increases the size and cortical thickness of the hippocampus.[7]

That’s right: regular meditation practice directly and physiologically combats the most egregious effects of depression.

And, of course, meditation also targets the underlying emotional and psychological triggers that allow depression to flourish. It outperforms nearly all medical protocols as a treatment for stress and anxiety, and it allows for greater mental clarity, energy, and vitality.

If you don’t yet have a meditation practice, check out this article on how to get started. Once you find your rhythm, you’ll understand why meditation, healthy diet, and exercise is a trifecta against which depression doesn’t stand a chance.

 


References

[1] http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/statistics-infographic

[2] Ibid.

[3] http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/mp201569a.html

[4] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/07/30/depression-makes-brain-smaller.aspx

[5] Ibid.

[6] http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/02/09/7-ways-meditation-can-actually-change-the-brain/

[7] http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1809754

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sauna_hallenbad02

Saunas have long been valued around the world for the deeply healing and relaxing experience that they offer.

They exemplify the perfect intersection of mindfulness, relaxation, positive social interaction, and active healing. In Finland (where the practice originated), sitting in a sauna is even approached as a sacred activity deserving of reverence.

You’ve probably already experienced the blissful rejuvenation that a good sauna experience provides. If not, you’re missing out!

They’re great for more than just relaxation, though. When integrated into a healthy lifestyle, sauna usage can be powerfully healing for both the body and mind.

Isn’t it wonderful when things that feel good are also good for us?

Here’s some reasons this feel-good activity should be a part of your life…

They’ll teach you to let go

We might as well start with the most obvious benefit of sauna use.

In today’s hectic world, the value of any activity that allows us to unwind, let go, and reset shouldn’t be underestimated.

A sauna session is a great way to step away from our busy schedules and consciously direct our attention toward our health and wellness. Stress-tightened muscles and racing thoughts are no match for a nice, hot sauna sit!

And stress relief is not something to be taken lightly. Stress has been linked to every leading cause of death, and it’s estimated that 90% of all doctor visits are due to stress-related issues.[1]

Through the simple action of setting aside time for a sauna session, you can begin to accustom yourself to prioritizing activities that minimize your level of stress.

They’ll take your detoxing to the next level

It’s nearly impossible to stay vibrantly healthy without regular detoxification practices. Every part of our daily living environment is rife with toxins—and thus, so is your body, unless you take the time to clean it out.

Saunas are an incredibly powerful detox accelerator. Anyone who’s ever used them knows how much they make you sweat—and sweating just happens to be one of the major ways in which the body excretes toxins.

Heat also increases vasodilation, which ensures that optimal blood flow flushes toxins out of muscles and tissue. This process is amplified when you interrupt your sauna session with a cold plunge, which causes immediate vasoconstriction and helps push out stagnant toxins.

The beneficial vasodilation caused by sauna use is so pronounced that one study even found that it increased the endurance of distance runners by up to 32%.[2]

There’s even evidence that the specific kind of heat stress induced by sitting in a sauna raises the body’s levels of detoxification enzymes called catalase (CAT) and superoxide dismutase (SOD).[3]

They increase vitality and decrease the likelihood of illness

Of all the magical feats that saunas can work upon your body, this one is perhaps the most surprising: studies demonstrate that a 30-minute, uninterrupted sauna session can raise your levels of human growth hormone (hGH), which many refer to as “the vitality hormone.”[4]

Human growth hormone is absolutely central to the growth of our bodies and brains. Because of its role as a catalyst for muscle growth, athletes and bodybuilders work awfully hard to keep their hGH levels elevated. How ironic, then, that you can do so just by relaxing in a sauna!

The vitality enhancement offered by sauna use extends to your heart and immune system, as well.

The Cardiovascular and Prevention Centre at Quebec’s Université de Montréal discovered that exercise and sauna dramatically improves the symptoms of hypertension for 24 hours following the session,[5] and a study conducted at the Austria’s University of Vienna found that regular sauna bathers have a far lower incidence of the common cold.[6]

While the mechanisms by which saunas exert their healing power are undoubtedly complex, many researchers attribute it to their unique combination of detox enhancement and tendency to build stress resistance.

Think of a sauna session like a homeopathic dose of stress. Over time, your body develops the ability to deal with stressors in a more effective manner—which leads to a stronger heart, a more vital immune system, and enhanced overall health.

As wonderfully health-promoting as sauna use can be, though, there’s one way that you can take its healing potential to whole new level.

Supercharge your sauna experience with far infrared therapy

Far infrared saunas are similar to those that we know and love, with a slight twist: invisible waves of energy known as far infrared waves (FIR) are distributed throughout the enclosure.

These infrared rays are able to penetrate deeply into all layers of the body, thus deepening the already impressive detoxification, relaxation, and healing that comes along with sauna use.

If this all sounds like some scary new technology, don’t worry: far infrared therapy is an ancient practice. Modern science has shown that our hands, our bodies, and the sun emit FIR rays at all times. This is why “palm healing” and “the laying on of hands” have been such widely used healing techniques for thousands of years.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that far infrared saunas have numerous remarkable healing abilities.[7] Among other things, they’ve been shown to…

Facilitate weight loss by increasing blood flow and stimulating metabolism.

Ameliorate chronic fatigue by relieving stress, decreasing inflammation, and ridding the body of toxins.

Clear skin conditions by cleaning the liver and kidneys, thus relieving the body of its toxin-processing burden.

Boost the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells and killer T-cells.

Far infrared saunas are now available for installation in your own home (and they’re more affordable than you might expect), and the trend is catching on at many spas and health centers too.

Far infrared or not, just make an effort to become a more regular sauna bather (if you’re not already)…your body and mind will thank you.

 


References

[1] http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART00694/Stress.html

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16877041

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24304490

[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/999213

[5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22863164

[6] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2248758

[7] http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/health-benefits-of-far-infrared-therapy/

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