Back in the day, I worked in a health food. I connected with people daily who suffered with an array of health concerns, but the most common concern and complaint I got was STRESS!
I’m sure most of us don’t have the opportunity to lounge around all day, kick back, take in some sun, down some pina coladas….I mean some health conscious antioxidant green tea…of course!
Stress can lead to a host of health problems, including digestive upsets, intestinal problems, weight gain, acne, hormonal imbalances, fatigue, high blood pressure….you name it!
Researchers estimate that stress contributes to as many as 80 percent of all major illnesses! Stress can be emotional, physical, social, or even mental. There is good stress and bad stress. I know that may sound a little strange, but working out for example, is stress physically on the body. It’s great for our overall health, but if we are not eating properly or using the rights supplements for recovery then we may just be adding stress to our bodies.
So…..how do we handle stress? First and foremost, we need to eliminate our stressor, if that’s at all possible. For most people, this can be rather challenging. If we can’t eliminate stress in our daily lives, we need to learn how to manage our stress, productively!
This can mean finding ways to slow down during your day, enjoying a hot bath at night as a way to calm and ease anxiety or simply calling up a girlfriend to vent to.
So here is my go-to list of things to do/supplements to take when stressed:
1. BREATHE!! How often do we rush through the day feeling time-constrained and overwhelmed and never pay attention to our breathing?! This is one of the most important…and easiest… and cheapest ways to manage our stress. When we are stressed, our breathing tends to be shallow and fast, instead of slow and steady.
Practice breathing through your diaphragm…here’s how:
Start by lying on back (use your bed or the floor). This will make it easier to develop the proper deep breathing technique the first couple of times. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your belly just above your waist. Breathe in slowly through your nose. You should feel the hand on your belly rise. Breathe out slowly through your mouth. The hand on your belly should gradually lower. Repeat steps 3 and 4 a few times, then focus on allowing your ribcage to expand and widen as your belly moves out, so that you are filling up your entire lungs, from bottom to top.
2. Take a B-Complex- Our B vitamins (along with other nutrients) get depleted when we are stressed which can lead to many nutrient deficiencies. B vitamins are important for the proper functioning of our nervous system and B5 in particular, is the anti-stress vitamin! B5 plays a role in the functioning of our adrenal glands and our adrenals can become quite fatigued if we are constantly under stress.
3. Antioxidant Supplement– Stress causes free radical formation and to fend off the damage of these free radicals, we need to constantly supply our bodies with lots of antioxidants. I am a big fan of Juice Plus+, which are fruits and vegetables in a capsule. Taking Juice Plus+ pretty replaces having to take a multi-vitamin, vitamin C and an antioxidant supplement. You get all of that just by taking Juice Plus+. Talk about cost effective! We can get antioxidants through our food of course – fruits, vegetables, and superfoods, but often it’s not enough to fend off free radical damage, so supplementing is key.
4. L-Theanine– this amino acid, found primarily in green tea leaves produces a relaxed mental and emotional state without any sleepy side-effects. It even improves memory, concentration and performance! It works by generating different brain waves and increasing the formation of GABA, a neurotransmitter that is key to relaxation and memory. You can generally find this in chewable forms (Natural factors makes a great one), and 100-200mg should do the trick!
5. Adaptogens– these nutrients are in a class of their own and I could go on and on about which ones to take. Adaptogens are metabolic regulators. They help an ‘organism’ adapt to its environment to avoid damage. Since our adrenal glands come become overworked and fatigued from daily stress, it’s important to help nourish these glands.
Some adaptogens I love:
Rhodiola– can boost brain function and memory and has significant anti-fatigue effects. It’s great for reducing mental fatigue, improving sleep patterns and stabilizing mood. Dosages can range from 250-500mg. This brand here is my absolute favourite!
Ashwagandha– this tonic herb enhances mental function, improves overall health, increases energy and vitality all while strengthening the immune system. Dosages can range from 100 up to 750mg.
Holy Basil– this herb helps to reduce anxiety, helps with mental focus and promotes a positive stress response. It is also known to elevate your spirits and is a herb used often in Ayurvedic medicine. It is said that “Holy Basil delivers nutrients to the mind necessary for the experience of enlightenment.” Dosage range is typically 500mg.
I hope this info helps you feel calmer, lighter, energized, and full of vitality. And remember…..often times, all we need to do is BREATHE.