During these uncertain times, you may be feeling a little more anxious than usual. According to reports from two surveys conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association (APA) in June 2020, more than 7 in 10 Americans (72%) say the future of our nation is a significant source of stress. For comparison, only 56% of Americans said the same in their 2019 and 2018 Stress in America surveys.1
In another national poll released by the American Psychiatric Association in March of this year, nearly half of Americans (48%) expressed anxiousness about the possibility of getting coronavirus. In addition, (57%) of American adults said they were concerned that the coronavirus will have a serious negative impact on their finances.2
If 2020 feels like the year that keeps on giving, and not in the ways you would like, you are probably feeling stressed out, overwhelmed, and exhausted. And this chronic stress can easily take a toll on both your physical and mental health.
For all of these reasons and more, it’s important to pay extra attention to your body these days and to give it extra support so you can stay healthy.
Learn some easy ways that you can cope and better manage stress and discover some herbs and herbal supplements that may also be able to help.*
Four Ways to Feel Calmer & Less Stressed
Increase Your Physical Activity
Regular exercise is one of the best and easiest changes you can make to help relieve stress and improve your energy levels.
It may sound counterintuitive, but there have been many clinical studies completed which have shown that regular exercise increases energy levels and improves fatigue, as compared to control groups that did not exercise.
Physical activity can also help lower your overall stress levels and have a positive effect on your mood. Exercise increases your brain’s production of endorphins (the “feel-good” neurotransmitters) that give you that feeling of euphoria after a workout.
Exercise can also take your mind off your worries. When you are working out, hiking, walking, or running, you are typically focused on the activity at hand, rather than your thoughts and feelings, so exercise can provide mental and emotional health benefits in addition to the physical ones.
Limit Screen Time
If you’ve turned on the TV lately or checked the latest news on your phone, you’re probably feeling even more stressed out than usual. Between election coverage, natural disasters, protests, and pandemic updates, we are overloaded with a steady stream of negative messages. This constant deluge of negativity can wear down even the most optimistic of people.
A 2018 study showed that after an hour of screen time per day, “…increasing screen time was generally linked to progressively lower psychological well-being.” In this same study, researchers also noted that “High users of screens were also significantly more likely to have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression.”3
To help relieve stress and anxiety, you should limit your screen time each day, and especially in the evening in the hours before you go to bed. You can replace this lost screen time with activities that help to reduce stress and add joy in your life, such as reading a great book, practicing yoga, or even taking a bubble bath.
Another concern with excess screen time is the blue light exposure. Blue light is the name for light with blue wavelengths and TVs, phones, and computers all emit blue light.
This blue light may be beneficial during daylight hours because it has been shown to boost attention. However, at nighttime, these lights can keep us awake and have been shown to impede sleep.
You should limit exposure to blue light in the critical two hours right before bedtime, so your circadian rhythm is not affected. Your circadian rhythm is your body’s internal clock, according to Ayurveda, run by the master clock in your brain. An imbalance in your circadian rhythm may cause sleep disorders, such as insomnia, as well as obesity, diabetes, and seasonal affective disorder.4
We recommend starting with a small goal such as reducing your TV and screen time exposure by one hour per day before bedtime and then slowly decreasing your screen time even more over time. Your eyes and your mental health will thank you! And an extra bonus of this reduced screen time is that it may also improve your sleep quality so you will feel more energized and less tired.
Nurture Your Relationship with Nature
Have you heard of Forest Bathing? Forest Bathing is the act of immersing ourselves in a forest, leaving civilization behind and letting the sights, smells, and sounds of the forest wash over us. We're all familiar with how good a walk in the woods makes us feel, and now we have the science to explain why.
Forest Bathing provides many benefits including the stress reduction that occurs when we unplug, slow down, and connect with Nature. It has been shown to benefit our immune systems and our hearts.5
Fortunately, you don't have to spend a long weekend Forest Bathing for it to work its magic. Even a two-hour walk in the park or the countryside can decrease blood pressure and stress hormones.5
Add Herbal Support to Your Wellness Routine
In addition to the tips above, incorporating herbs into your daily routine can also provide your body extra support.* Below are a few of our favorite herbs and products to help you destress and cope during these troubled times.*
Physically & Emotionally Supportive Herbs
Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties and this word is often used to describe the body’s ability to withstand stress. However, in trying times, you may need some additional support to help prepare and protect your body from daily stressors, and this is where herbs can help.* Below are our favorite physically and emotionally supportive herbs:
One of the most revered adaptogenic Ayurvedic herbs that help you respond to stress in a healthy way.* Traditionally used for maintaining emotional well-being and supporting a positive mood.*
For over two thousand years, Ashwagandha has been a revered adaptogenic Ayurvedic herb helping to restore balance and promote a healthy circadian rhythm.* It is one of our most popular herbs for people dealing with ongoing stress.*
Regarded as a popular adaptogenic herb, Schisandra promotes overall health and vitality and is a powerful source of antioxidants.* This herb supports the body's natural resistance and adaptation to stressful influences, supports mental endurance, and overall metabolic efficiency.*
A classic restorative tonic that supports relaxation and helps you maintain emotional well-being.* Gaia Herbs harvests the Oats used in our products during the "milky" stage, where the Oats produce a milk-like sap. This is the desired stage for our supplements, as these early-harvested Oats yield the greatest health-supporting properties, including the highest level of minerals, such as potassium and magnesium.
Calming & Restorative Herbs
This year has been particularly chaotic and demanding, requiring a great deal of mental, emotional, and physical energy. With all of this consistent stress, you may find it difficult to relax, unwind, or get a good night of rest.
If you are experiencing any of these issues, you may benefit from some of our favorite calming and restorative herbs.* These herbs support healthy adrenal function and help to restore the body’s natural circadian rhythm.*
Magnolia bark has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Japanese Traditional Medicine. The bark is commonly used in formulas to support a healthy response to stress, calm occasional nervousness, as well as to support restful sleep.*
This herb is grown on Gaia Herbs’ own 350-acre Certified Organic Farm and is a member of the Mint family containing small, delicate white flowers. Lemon Balm is a favorite herb to support the body’s natural state of calm and relaxation.*
Vervain is indigenous to the United States growing naturally along roadsides and tall grassy fields. This herb is used to support a healthy and calm mood and to help ease tension.*
The Reishi mushroom is a perfect example of the function of a "tonic" herb, which is an herb that is used for nutritive, restorative, long-term purposes.* Reishi tonifies while supporting healthy sleep cycles, maintaining healthy energy levels, and supporting the healthy breakdown of hormones by the liver.*
Energizing Herbs for Endurance & Stamina
“Drained,” “tired,” “depleted,” “unmotivated,” “distracted” — you may be able to relate to any or even all of these words. With the chronic stress of 2020, it has become normal for many of us to feel worn down and fatigued.
However, Nature may be able to help, with herbal support to help you maintain healthy energy and stamina.* While not stimulating like caffeine, these herbs can help you power through your day.*
Below are our favorite physically supporting and energizing herbs:
Popular with the Vikings to enhance mental and physical endurance, this revered adaptogen is still prized today.* This herb supports the body’s natural adaptation to physical and emotional stressors as well as helping to maintain stamina.*
Also known as Siberian Ginseng, Eleuthero is an adaptogenic herb that has been used for thousands of years to enhance the body’s natural ability to adapt to stress, increase endurance, and support metabolic efficiency.*
Herbalists classify Asian Ginseng as an adaptogen, which means it has a normalizing effect on the body, enhances homeostasis, and counteracts negative effects brought about by stressors.* Asian Ginseng is also believed to revitalize energy levels.*
In ancient China, Cordyceps were reserved exclusively for the emperor’s family to ensure long-life and vitality.* Cordyceps have been used traditionally to manage exhaustion and fatigue by helping to sustain energy, endurance, and stamina.* This prized adaptogenic mushroom can also help your body better cope with stress so it’s a great natural aid to help you manage the daily tasks of life.*
Ease Your Stress Naturally
Stress can have many negative effects on your overall health. Instead of trying to tough it out without help, consider adding natural plant-based support to your wellness routine to give your body the extra support it may need when dealing with ongoing stress.*
Plants can be great allies to our well-being during times of heightened stress. And that’s good news because less stress on the body will lead to a healthier, happier you.
Discover additional ways to help you stay mindful and stress less.
- Stress in the Time of COVID-19. American Psychological Association: Apa.org.
- New Poll: COVID-19 Impacting Mental Well-Being: Americans Feeling Anxious, Especially for Loved Ones; Older Adults are Less Anxious. https://www.psychiatry.org/ https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/news-releases/new-poll-covid-19-impacting-mental-well-being-americans-feeling-anxious-especially-for-loved-ones-older-adults-are-less-anxious
- Associations between screen time and lower psychological well-being among children and adolescents: Evidence from a population-based study. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6214874/
- Circadian Rhythms. National Institute of General Medical Sciences. https://www.nigms.nih.gov/education/pages/factsheet_circadianrhythms.aspx
- Li Q, et al. Acute effects of walking in forest environments on cardiovascular and metabolic parameters. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2011 Nov;111(11):2845-53.