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Ask the Pharmacist: 9 natural and effective ways to relax

Suzy Cohen
Columnist
Couple relaxing in lounge chairs on a beach at sunset

Lately, people in the USA have been dealing with anxiety from the recent vote and election stress. This compounded with fear from COVID and rising cases in some states is adding to the mental stress for all Americans.

Are you feeling more stress than usual? One of the trending searches on google is finding effective home remedies for anxiety and stress, so I thought this week would be a good time to write about some options. Anything that helps reduce daytime stress can help with nighttime issues like insomnia.

A woman relaxes in hammock.

Some supplements will work faster than others too, so keep that in mind. It’s best to have a discussion with your practitioner about natural supplements just to make sure they’re right for you. Before I get to the natural remedies, here are some non-supplement ways to calm down.

Play with your pup

If you have a dog, this is a good time to tend to your pet because studies show it helps to reduce stress and ease loneliness. It encourages playfulness too.

Take deeper breaths

We forget during the day and tend to hold our breath, especially while doing chores and listening to news, working and so forth. Deep breaths can have instantly positive effects on the body.

Play music

Turn on some music. It doesn’t even have to be soft music, it could be any music, even the kind that makes you want to get up and dance!

Go out into nature

Put down the phone and go outside. It's impossible to stay worked up about problems if you’re among the flowers, or if you’re photographing a squirrel or bunny in the yard. Plant some tulip, iris or daffodil bulbs and you’ll have something to look forward to in the spring when they bloom. 

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I have a much longer version of this article which I will email to you if you sign up for my newsletter at suzycohen.com. In no particular order, here are the 5 most effective natural approaches for stress.

  1. Vitamin C: This helps everyone produce feel-good hormones.
  2. Chamomile: This ancient herb is easy to enjoy because you can buy tea bags and drink a cup of it for fairly immediate effects. 
  3. Magnesium: This mineral comes in many forms and unfortunately people often buy the laxative form which doesn’t improve mood! But the right type of magnesium relaxes the entire central nervous system, works immediately and helps with sleep and tranquility.
  4. Compounds that raise GABA: Taurine is a very affordable, easy-to-find amino acid and it normal doses it can activate GABA receptors and encourage the release of GABA, much like a benzodiazepine would. But taurine doesn’t lead to addiction. Some others in this category include valerian root, ashwagandha and passionflower.
  5. Vitamin B6: Take this in the daytime, because it can provide energy initially. It helps you make dopamine which is energizing. But B6 is also needed to break down glutamate (stimulating) and turn it into GABA which helps you sleep. 

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Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit SuzyCohen.com.