A little stress is healthy; it challenges you and makes you stronger. Living in this day and age, stress has become a normal part of modern life. Driving in busy traffic, meeting bill payments, children, financial commitments, relationship breakdowns or just the everyday waking up to an early alarm and managing work, homelife, raising kids, the daily commute, or financial pressures. Your body will still have a response, even if you do not feel like you’re stressed.
Signs of Stress
When stress becomes chronic, the brain may seek to self-regulate itself by toning down these signals as a protective mechanism. This can result in the sort of low energy commonly seen in chronic fatigue. Stress is known to be an underlying factor behind many conditions, with severe fatigue being one of the most debilitating.
Stress can be an underlying factor behind a myriad of health conditions, and can present itself in many different ways. Symptoms of acute, current stress include: low energy, difficulty sleeping, poor memory and concentration, mood changes, and digestive disturbances. Long term stress may lead to hormonal and thyroid imbalances, obesity, and a weakened immune system.
Adapting to Stress… Natural Supplements and Herbs may help
There is a category of herbal medicine called adaptogens that are used for stress, resilience and energy levels: Ashwaganda or Withania, Astragalus, Siberian ginseng, Damiana are useful when drained and exhausted. These herbs may also protect the brain from excessive stress. Rhodiola is a fabulous herb when there is a physical exhaustion or in times of post viral recovery.
• Amino acids such as Tyrosine, Taurine and Glutamine are building blocks for neurotransmitters, they support mood, stress response and alertness by calming the nervous system.
• Magnesium: Stress reduces your stores of magnesium, swimming regularly in chlorinated pools also will leach magnesium.
• B vitamins: Help to support stress moderating brain chemicals called neurotransmitters to keep you in a good mood. B vitamins also help improve your energy levels.
• Essential fatty acids – DHA/EPA – fish oils are building blocks for the brain and nervous system, healthy cholesterol levels and if you are on a cholesterol lowering medication helpful in restoring the myelin sheath.
• Get tested for low zinc, high copper and B6
• Exercise: Being active supports energy production and releases feel-good endorphins
• Limit caffeine and alcohol.
• Protein from fish, lean meats, eggs, legumes and nuts can provide you with amino acids to fuel your brain whilst sustaining you for longer, minimising those stress cravings.
• Fish, in particular, contains both protein and essential fats, otherwise known as omega-3 fatty acids which can support a healthy stress response and healthy mood
• Avoid refined carbohydrates and sugary foods they are nutrient poor and may lead to weight gain.
• Meditation/Yoga calms an overactive mind and assists you in finding peace. Connect to Nature walk on the beach or in parks green plants and natural foliage can provide – improved mood and an increased sense of calm.
• Be social – good relationships with family, friends, work colleagues and sports buddies build quality relationships. Socialising is not only fun; it may also increase your resilience to stress.
Healthy Energy Boosts:
• Breakfast: Frozen Acai (Pure) with a Banana, Coconut/ Almond Milk, with nuts, goji and pepitas or sunflowers seeds a great breakfast get up and go
• On-the-go: Handful of nuts, seeds or dried fruit for morning tea. Paleo balls or bars – go for high protein
• Afternoon slump: Peanut butter on seed biscuit, apple or celery stick, or Nutella.
Disclaimer: You must not rely on the information in this article as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.
Maxine Haigh-White, Nutritionist.