How To Manage Your Stress
Strategies and Supplements
24/7/365! It seems that everyone is in a hurry to get everywhere these days. Not nearly enough time to get done all the things we think must get done. It adds up to the dreaded 6 letter word, STRESS.
In moderation, stress is healthy. It motivates us and enables us to perform in sports and in clutch situations like school exams. Unfortunately for most people, stress moves beyond healthy, solidly into unhealthy territory. School, work, relationships, family and money troubles all add up to sleepless nights, and bad health.
Over 80% of us report experiencing long term, chronic, severe stress.. We say it is primarily associated with personal finances, work and issues related to raising children. Prolonged unhealthy stress leads to serious health problems. It reduces your resistance to infections increasing the likelihood of becoming sick. It leads to high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, heart attacks and heart failure. Stress causes tension leading to lower back, shoulder and neck pain. Lesser known health effects of stress include fertility problems, digestive difficulties, worsening of asthma and aggravation of existing skin conditions.
Despite stress affecting the environment around us, there are strategies and supplements you can use to effectively manage stress and thereby reduce or eliminate its negative health effects.
Exercise – Regular exercise (even mild exercise) is one of the best ways to manage stress. Even everyday activities such as gardening and cleaning can reduce stress levels. Ensure you get your blood moving and keep your mind on the activity.
Breathing -Deep breathing has been shown to relieve tension and decrease stress levels. When you breathe slowly and deeply it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message throughout your body. Once received, your body begins to normalize your increased heart rate, stops increasing your blood pressure and begins to relax.
Yoga & Tai Chi – Designed to bring together mind, body and spirit, these activities work to reduce high blood pressure, relieve anxiety and reduce stress.
Laughter – Simply laughing releases tension and brings positive physiological changes. Try and find ways to laugh each day and reap the health benefits.
Green Tea – For thousands of years Japanese have been unwinding and de-stressing with a cup of hot green tea. It is not simply the tea itself, but it is the whole act of preparing, brewing and focusing on the tea. The tea is an integral component, but concentrating on the process of making and enjoying the tea, to the exclusion of everything else, is what helps provide the clarity and serenity to unwind. If using to unwind at night, you may want to use decaffeinated green tea to avoid sleep issues.
Lemon Balm – This member of the mint family has been used as far back as the Middle Ages to prevent insomnia and for the relief of stress. Lemon Balm is believed to work similarly to Valium, but milder. Researchers think that it binds to receptors in the brain, reducing stress and anxiety before other physiological effects can manifest. It is easy to find at health food stores in concentrated extracts. Take 1 dropperful of extract (in water if taste is an issue) for rapid results.
Siberian Ginseng (Eleuthero) – Siberian ginseng is one of the most potent herbal adaptogens, the term used to describe substances that can strengthen the body and increase resistance to physical and emotional stress. Siberian ginseng works by strengthening and protecting the adrenal glands, thereby increasing their capacity to withstand prolonged stress. The adrenal glands are the organs responsible for secreting the hormones that help your body respond to stress. With Siberian Ginseng the concentrated fluid extract is best. Use 1-2ml in water up to 3 times daily.
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) – This essential vitamin is found primarily in organ meats (liver & kidney), and to a lesser extent in the muscle of red meat, fish and poultry. (beef, chicken, lamb, salmon, etc). Vegetarians and vegans are at risk for B12 deficiency as there are no good vegetarian food sources of B12. Your brain is the biggest consumer of B12 in your body. It is used to create the sleep hormone melatonin and the mood-regulating hormone serotonin. Prolonged stress depletes your supply of B12 which worsens the effects of stress, perpetuating an unhealthy cycle. It is best to take the active sublingual form of B12. The drops are concentrated, and the effects are virtually immediate. Ensure you are using the active (methylcobalamin) form as it is absorbed and works better than other forms.
Stress is all around us and impacts all of us. We can either ignore it and hope it goes away or use our knowledge and tools to minimize its potential negative effect. Go ahead and have a calm, productive day, and don’t forget your B12 and cup of green tea!