Firstly, it’s important to understand that the way you breathe directly affects the locus cœruleus, a subcortical nucleus in the brain. If your breathing is fast and irregular, the locus cœruleus will stimulate areas of the brain associated with anxiety and stress.
If, on the other hand, you breathe slowly, deeply and calmly , the locus cœruleus will activate parts of the brain associated with relaxation(1). It’s a mechanical process!
So to combat stress, try this simple but highly beneficial exercise: find a quiet spot, sit down and close your eyes. Breathe in slowly and deeply through the nose, feeling the air inflate your lungs, then take a long breath out through your mouth. Repeat this 5-10 times, then breathe normally again for a few minutes. Throughout the exercise, make sure you focus exclusively on your breathing in order to calm the flow of your thoughts.
You can use this exercise when experiencing a specific stressful situation but you should also try to incorporate it into your daily routine.
Physical activity stimulates the body’s production of two types of hormone:
The de-stressing effect of exercise helps you to sleep better too. It’s also good for cardiac health: regular exercise helps the heart to become less fatigued by reducing heartbeat frequency, which also lowers blood pressure. These are significant benefits given that stress is a major risk factor for cardiovascular problems.
Which type of exercise should you choose? Go for something you enjoy and which is compatible with your state of health (you can discuss this with your doctor): walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, gymnastics, dance...
According to the WHO, you should try to take 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, divided, for example, into 20-25 minute daily sessions (2).
Passiflora (Passiflora incarnata), or passionflower, is a climbing plant recognisable by its beautiful, pure-colored flowers.
Its name comes from the fact that it was used by Jesuit missionaries in South America to explain the Passion of Christ to indigenous populations. The shape of the flower is said to resemble the crown of thorns or even the crucifixion nails.
Passiflora is rich in alkaloids, flavonoids and cyanogenic heterosides. This medicinal plant is known to induce a state of calmness by helping to reduce psychomotor agitation. It also helps boost the body’s resistance to stress (3-5).
To benefit from the properties of passion flower, take a supplement with extract of passiflora (the synergistic formulation Stress Relief Formula, for example, contains extracts of passiflora, magnolia, jujube and Schisandra, a plant that also helps increase the body’s ability to adapt to stress).
There’s evidence to suggest that people practised meditation as long ago as 4000+ years. However, the first written proof dates back to 500 BC. Buddha, who lived at this time, was famously thought to have achieved ‘enlightenment’ or ‘illumination’ as a result of meditation.
Regardless, there are numerous scientific studies demonstrating that regular meditation is an effective way of combatting anxiety and stress. In particular, it can help you manage your emotions better in challenging situations (6-7).
Meditation is not unlike the breathing exercisementioned above. For maximum effect, put on some meditative music, sit in a comfortable chair with cushions for support, your feet on the ground, and your back straight, not slumped in the chair. Close your eyes. For 10-20 minutes, focus on your breathing and the sensations in your body. If your thoughts interrupt your concentration, just let them come, before re-focusing on the sensations present in your body. This is why it is called ‘mindful meditation’ (or ‘attentive presence’).
The aim is to stop your thoughts racing away and instead, anchor yourself in the moment. You can practise meditation on a daily basis.
Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum), or holy basil, is a herbaceous plant widely consumed in India, primarily in the form of a tea. Known as the ‘Queen of plants, it plays a central role in Ayurveda.
This medicinal plant contains eugenol, ursolic acid, camphor, vitamins A and C, numerous minerals … Its unique composition means it is able to provide effective support for heart health and vitality, and for combatting stress(8-10). It is classified as an ‘adaptogen’ which means it helps the body to adapt to stress and manage it better.
A supplement such as Adrenal Support provides a significant intake of tulsi, as well as rhodiola, maca, and magnesium. It also contains the adaptogen eleutherococcus, a small but super-resistant shrub known as ‘Siberian ginseng’, recognized for its effects on physical and mental health (11-12).
Tulsi is also found at significant levels in certain Ayurvedic potions taken by pipette (such as Adaptogenic Potion, which combines 10 beneficial herbs and mushrooms including tulsi, astragalus, black elderberry, reishi ...)
When you sleep, your body repairs and regenerates itself. Conversely, a lack of, or poor quality, sleep, has an adverse effect on mental performance, immunity, weight control … and also produces an increase in stress(13) - which in turn prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep. It’s truly a vicious circle!
To improve your sleep quality, establish a bedtime routine. Go to bed earlier so that you don’t upset your succession of sleep cycles, turn off all your screens an hour before you go to sleep, eat lightly during the evening, read a book, listen to ASMR relaxation videos … Simply find what works best for you.
The other techniques described in this article (exercise, meditation...) will also help you get to sleep more easily.
Here again, plants can be very helpful, notably lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), which is recognized for promoting better quality sleep (14-15). Opt for essential oil of lavender (such as in the formulation Organic Relaxing Oil Blend, which combines several organic essential oils which are taken orally).
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an adaptogen plant native to India. Used for over 3000 years, it is a key component of the traditional Indian system of medicine (Ayurveda).
The root of this plant is rich in withanolides ( (its most beneficial active ingredients) as well as free amino acids, glycosides ...
If you’re feeling stressed, ashwagandha will promote relaxation as well as physical and mental well-being. It can provide support during periods of nervous tension and anxiety. More generally, it helps to maintain emotional equilibrium. Ashwagandha also has beneficial effects on the heart and cardiovascular system (16-17).
Attention: make sure you choose an ashwagandha root supplement that’s rich in withanolides but free from withaferin A which is considered cytotoxic (opt, for example, for Super Ashwagandha, standardized to 5% withanolides and free from withaferin A).
A medicinal plant from South East Asia and the Pacific islands, tiger grass (Centella asiatica) offers numerous benefits for health. Discover the value of taking a tiger grass dietary supplement.
Your heart’s racing, you have a lump in the throat, and a feeling of dread: though harmless, an anxiety attack is still highly distressing. Here are 8 natural ways to ease these unwelcome episodes.
Are you going through a difficult period? Suffering from low mood? There are natural substances that can help to banish the blues and get you back on track.
Though historically little-known in the West, ashwagandha has now become very popular. This master plant from Ayurvedic medicine offers three exceptional benefits for physical and mental health. Discover them now!
Used for millennia, St. John’s Wort has enjoyed renewed popularity in recent years, primarily for its potential effects on emotional balance and mood. Discover everything you’ve ever wanted to know about St. John’s Wort.
In many countries, a large percentage of the population is being told to stay at home in order to stem the progress of the coronavirus. Here we offer some advice on how to get organised, stay in shape and keep your spirits up.