Feeling on edge today? Too much on your to-do list? Finding yourself mulling over whether or not your kids are safe, your job is safe, your house is safe? Of course you are. We live in an all-in world where anxiety is at an all-time high. No wonder we’re all a little (or a lot) freaked out.
Unfortunately one of the greatest of life’s ironies is that most stress-reduction strategies involve a whole lot of strain just to pull them off. Go on vacation? That means working 24/7 to get ahead at the office, get someone up to speed about projects, and make sure everyone has your number in case of emergency.
Dinner out with your spouse? Do you have a babysitter? Does the sitter know all the elaborate instructions about what your kids are allowed to eat? Is a neighbor home just in case?
Sometimes, it’s easier just to stay home.
An Easier Way to De-Stress
However, I just read about a stress reliever that doesn’t sound too taxing. In fact, it seems downright easy. Let me tell you about the research.
Scientists invited 20 adults into a lab and asked them to smell the following oils for 20 minutes each:
• Sweet Almond Oil with Lavender Oil
• Sweet Almond Oil alone
Afterwards, the researchers measured various stress markers, such as blood pressure, heart rate and skin temperature. Subjects were also asked to estimate their mood, such as feeling pleasant or unpleasant, comfy or uncomfortable, relaxed or refreshed. Next, the researchers brought them back into the lab for a second smell test, this time to measure brain activity.
When the subjects sniffed the lavender oil, they had significantly lower readings for blood pressure, heart rate and skin temps. They also rated themselves as more active, fresher and more relaxed than when they inhaled the sweet almond oil alone. Finally, the aroma of lavender oil significantly increased the power of theta brain waves (those that border between the conscious and the subconscious) and alpha brain waves (those that help the brain get to a state of relaxation and meditation). It’s the same brain state that meditation masters achieve to calm the mind and promote feelings of peace and relaxation.1
Not Just Less Stressed… Less Fat Too
The power of lowering stress seems apparent. But even more than the stress itself, lowering stress can help lower cortisol. What’s the big deal about cortisol?
Your body responds to physiological and emotional stress the same way. Your brain acts as if you are in physical danger and releases a potent cocktail of hormones to prepare you to fight or flee. (Either way you need energy). This way, you get a burst of adrenaline.
At the same time, you get a surge of cortisol, which tells your body to replenish that energy even though you haven’t used very many calories in your stressed-out state. This can make you very hungry. And your body keeps on pumping out that cortisol as long as the stress continues.
Cortisol’s role in the body is to mobilize energy by tapping into your body’s fat stores and moving it from one location to another… or delivering it to tissues such as working muscles.
The problem is that with anxiety or prolonged stress response… Cortisol will move fat from storage deposits and relocate it to fat cell deposits deep in your abdomen… a dangerous area to store fat.
And cortisol is the hormone that helps baby fat cells grow up into mature fat cells… thus causing even more weight gain.
So by lowering stress, you’re lowering cortisol and burning fat more efficiently.
Sounds like a triple header to me!
You might also remember that RealDose Weight Loss Formula No.1 contains an ingredient (rhodiola) that reduces cortisol as well.
Hang Loose With Lavender
There are a ton of lavender products out there — how do you know which to choose? Researchers credit lavender’s relaxing and mood-boosting benefits to the naturally occurring essential oils. So, be sure to look for “lavender essentials oils,” or “oil of lavender,” rather than just being “lavender scented.”
Additional research found that lavender essential oils are not only effective when inhaled, but also when applied to the skin. Unlike many other essential oils (which have to be put in a base oil), lavender oil is often applied undiluted to the skin.
Some Other Ways To Sniff Away Stress
Lavender essential oils are perfectly suited for those times during the day when you could use a little extra help to find inner peace or boost your mood.
• On-the-Go Stress Buster. Keep a small bottle of lavender oil handy—in your briefcase, purse or backpack. Rub a drop on your hands when you need to channel your inner calm during the daily frenzy.
• Professional Peacemaker. Keep a decorative pot of dried lavender on your desk. The aroma will help you relax and feel refreshed throughout your office day.
• Home Spa Retreat. Enjoy bath products with lavender oils to fill the air with a soothing aroma for both body and mind.
• Sleepytime Soother. Welcome a restful night’s sleep with a sachet of dried lavender under your pillow.
Have you found any great ways to beat stress? I’m always on the lookout for more stressbusters. After all, life is complicated enough. Battling the stress shouldn’t have to be.
Steve Sisskind, M.D.
Hi, I'm Dr. Steve Sisskind, Chief Medical Officer & Founder at RealDose Nutrition.
As a young physician, I struggled because my patients came to me with serious health issues, but I didn't have the right tools to help them. Medical school taught me how to put "band aids" on their symptoms with drugs and surgery, but not how to address the root causes of their problems.
Years later I discovered a better approach... based on the fundamental idea that the power of nutrition can transform your health and vitality. But there's a lot of confusion... What foods should I eat? Which supplements should I take? What does the science say?
I have dedicated my life to answering these questions... And I share this knowledge with you every day here at RealDose Nutrition.
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1. Sayorwan W, Siripornpanich V, Piriyapunyaporn T, Hongratanaworakit T, Kotchabhakdi N, Ruangrungsi N. The effects of lavender oil inhalation on emotional states, autonomic nervous system, and brain electrical activity. J Med Assoc Thai. 2012;95(4):598-606. PMID: 22612017.