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Stress: complementary and alternative therapies

Wednesday 30th July

A complementary approach to easing feelings of tension and stress. The frenetic pace of modern-day life seems designed to foster tension. Whether it's the daily commute, pressure in the workplace or even family frictions, many of us are feeling increasingly stressed out. In fact a study conducted by the International Stress Management Association reported that one in two workers had suffered from stress within the last 12 months.

Ongoing stress can lead to emotional and even physical problems, and there are many ways of dealing with its underlying causes – depending on your individual situation and what is behind the stress.

In terms of easing the symptoms of stress, you could try going for a run (to clear the mind, and release those feel good endorphins) or you may want to explore a more alternative approach. Here are some useful starting points from the world of complementary therapies.

Relieving symptoms of stress

Essential oils can be used as part of a massage, added to an incense burner or poured into your bath water. Lavender, rosemary, lemon and ylang ylang have traditionally been used to ease stress and promote feelings of relaxation. There are also certain remedies designed to be used as oral drops (such as Bach flower remedies). Ask in your local pharmacy or natural health store for further details.

Massage therapy promotes all-round relaxation. It relaxes the mind, works wonders on tense, knotted muscles and will also release feel good endorphins into the body. A trigger-point massage may help to ease the symptoms of a tension headache.

This is almost a type of meditation, and involves learning how to pay attention to what is going on around us, rather than getting sucked up in our own thoughts and worries. A study published by the University of Oxford in 2013 showed that mindfulness can reduce anxiety by 58%, depression by 57% and stress by 40%. For further details about mindfulness and to look for a course nearby, visit the Mental Health Foundation microsite.

Relaxation techniques:
These combine breathing techniques with muscle relaxation, and yoga and t'ai chi are both good examples. Self-hypnosis can also be used to reduce the symptoms of stress. The NHS Choices website has some helpful relaxation tips that include breathing exercises and deep muscle relaxation.

Further information

Read more about complementary and alternative medicine along with topics on keeping healthy in our a healthier you section. You can also find out about the CAM therapies, including homeopathy, that are covered by our cash plans for those aged 65 and under and the over 65s.