Reduce Stress Naturally
Feeling the stress and strain of daily life? Reduce stress naturally. My best therapy…..walking the beach, smelling the salty sea air and listening to the soothing rolls of the ocean waves!
Taking a walk on the beach with my dog is my magical way to de-stress. Other times I’ll simply have a cup of tea. Knowing how to relax and savor a brew, a simple tea session becomes a short spiritual and energetic retreat.
I firmly believe that nature can bring comfort to all who suffer.” Anne Frank
These are my favorite ways to reduce stress naturally and all these activities have the same thing in common. They increase your alpha brain waves. But exactly what do alpha waves do?
The brain produces electrical impulses all the time by our thoughts and emotions. These electrical impulses, measured as brain waves on an electroencephalogram (EEG), are produced by the millions of neurons in constant communication with each other.
Types of Brain Waves
Here is a very brief overview of brain waves in order to put the benefit of alpha waves in perspective. Every state of consciousness is a combination of one of the four main types of brain waves: beta, alpha, theta and delta.
The currents of electricity or brain waves are measured in amplitude and frequency. They are measured in hertz (Hz), the unit measure of frequency in cycles per second.
Four major brain waves:
- Beta: Are the fastest waves active during the waking state of consciousness. They are produced by your awake mind when active, thinking and on high alert or stressed. Beta waves measure 16-31 Hz.
- Alpha: The next fastest frequency of waves are related to detached awareness, our daydreaming mind. It provides the vividness of our imagery. When you take time to reflect or meditate, the alpha mind is engaged. Alpha waves measure 8-15 Hz.
- Theta: Are slower waves produced by the subconscious mind created during sleep and REM (rapid eye movement). Theta waves measure 4-7 Hz.
- Delta: These are the slowest of all frequencies produced by the unconscious brain. Delta is present when all other frequencies turn off during sleep for a deep restorative rest. Delta waves measure below 4 Hz.
All Matter is Made of Energy
Atoms are the tiniest unit of measure possible. All matter contains atoms and all atoms have electrons (positive) and protons (negative) that emit an electromagnetic force.
These atoms are constantly moving, spinning and vibrating radiating energy. Everything has energy because everything is made up of atomic molecules.
Since quantum physics has proved we are all beings of energy and vibration, vibrational fields effect us in a variety of ways.
How Alpha Waves Reduce Stress
The primary importance of alpha is that alpha waves are the bridge between the conscious and subconscious mind. They originate in the occipital lobe, the visual processing center of the brain.
Alpha is where you have the clearest and distinct imagery. This can assist in creativity and insight.
A 2015 study done by the University of North Carolina found that enhancing alpha waves triggers creativity.
They also found that depressed people have impaired alpha oscillations, concluding that if these brain activity patterns are enhanced that might potentially help with depression.
Activities such as taking a walk, exercising, listening to music, meditating or just taking a break and sitting quietly to reflect will increase alpha waves.
In her book “Awakening the Mind” Anna Wise gives an excellent guide to mastering the power of your brain waves through meditation.
1. A Walk On the Beach
I love walking on the beach. It is the best therapy and there are actual scientific reasons why this is true for so many people.
Earthing is the theory that when we make direct physical contact with the earth’s surface, such as walking barefoot on the beach, our bodies receive a charge of energy making us feel better. Since all matter has energy, the earth emits it’s own energy field too.
The earth’s natural magnetic field has a frequency about 7.8 Hz, known as the Schumann resonance. Notice this is within the same frequency range as alpha brain waves – the calming brain waves. So in a relaxed state the human brain has the same frequency as the earth.
When we are close to nature our energy fields align with the energy field of the earth, providing a healthful balance. That’s why it feels so good to spend time in nature.
Peace is all around us. It is not a matter of faith, it is a matter of practice.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Jeffrey L. Phanin, PhD. wrote in his white paper that when you enter the alpha brainwave state, stress drifts away. The brain’s thought process calms down and your mind becomes clearer as tension disappears.
“Irritable, anxious and overly sensitive people tend to spend most of their time in a beta state, and can usually greatly improve their minds by increasing their alpha brainwaves without resorting to taking drugs, excessive alcohol and other bad habits.”
Phanin also notes that if you have more alpha brainwaves you can cope better with stress and keep calm in difficult situations. Alpha waves stabilize emotions and improve mood.
2. Pet Therapy
Frontiers in Psychology reviewed several studies conducted on human animal interaction (HAI). The studies looked at a variety of age groups and medical health conditions.
The power of petting and interactions with animals are proven stress reducers by:
- Improved social attention, behavior, interpersonal interaction, and mood
- Reduction of stress-related parameters such as cortisol, heart rate, and blood pressure
- Reduction of self-reported fear and anxiety
- Improvement of mental and physical health, especially cardiovascular health
- Reduction of stress-related parameters such as epinephrine and norepinephrine
- Increased theta waves in combination with a balancing of alpha waves
Maybe that’s why we love looking at cat pictures and videos on the internet? They’re entertaining but they’re also relaxing. The picture stimulates our visual cortex increasing alpha waves.
3. A Cup of Tea
Certain chemical compounds can also increase alpha waves. Just as caffeine and stimulants will increase beta waves, the amino acid called l-theanine, found only in tea and some mushrooms, has some very interesting effects on the brain. L-theanine increases alpha brain waves inducing a calm and deeply relaxed state.
Because of alpha waves’ connection with relaxed mental states, increase in alpha wave activity is a desirable outcome.
Combined with the caffeine in tea, which is about half the amount found in coffee, the overall effect is a relaxed and focused calm.
Just in the act of making tea, we are slowing down. As we place the water on the stove we wait for the whistling kettle to call us to tea.
Think of tea as more than a beverage, it’s a pastime, inviting us to embrace the calm relaxation it provides. Silence and quiet contemplation follow as we savor the simple peace found in a cup of tea.
No Right Answer
When it comes to finding ways to reduce stress naturally, there is no right answer. We are faced with challenges all the time and our emotions react to those challenges.
Finding the best way for us to reduce the stress of those challenges will differ depending on who we are, where we live and how we choose to cope. The most important thing is to recognize this and choose a natural, healthy way to manage daily stress.
For me – tea is a tonic for the soul. But the truth is, any type of therapy that will naturally reduce stress is a soul tonic. Listening to my favorite music, performing altruistic acts, walking on the beach, drinking tea, pet therapy, yoga and meditation all have the ability to raise those alpha waves – inducing calm and relaxation.
So brew yourself a cup of tea and give yourself 15 minutes of soothing, calming therapy.
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