We hear about it all the time.
Everyone around you is stressed out. Making ends meet can be stressful. Your best friend’s job causes them a lot of undue stress.
What does all this mean?
We talk about it constantly but what exactly is stress?
Stress is the feeling people have when they’re overloaded and having difficulty coping with life’s demands.
A little bit of stress can sometimes be a good thing, (ask any university student who has proudly proclaimed “I do my best work under pressure”), however too much stress can be harmful to your health.
And because chronic stress can lead to
What Is Stress?
Stress is primarily a physical response to situations we find, well, stressful.
This is a result of millions of years of evolution designed to prepare us to deal with a sabretooth tiger or a stampeding mastodon.
While we don’t have to deal with these animals anymore (thank goodness!), your nervous system doesn’t know that.
Physiological Changes Due To Stress
When you’re under stress, your body thinks it’s under attack and switches to “fight or flight” mode, releasing adrenaline, cortisol, norepinephrine, and other hormones to prepare your body for physical action.
Your heart rate and alertness increase, as does your physical readiness.
Your body essentially reroutes blood from a number of non-essential systems and diverts it to your muscles, giving you the energy you need to escape and survive.
Other physiological changes include increased blood pressure, quickened breathing, slowing the digestive system, and tense muscles.
Again, from a prehistoric perspective, this makes a lot of sense – you don’t really need to be worrying about digesting those mammoth steaks when you’re fleeing from something dangerous.
But in the modern world, it’s not as helpful as it once was.
Experiencing these symptoms of stress constantly due to day-to-day worries can have a negative effect on your health over time.
Causes Of Stress
Causes of stress can be money (often not having enough), work (too much, long hours), relationships or anything else which could affect someone’s well-being.
There are also positive stressors, such as a job promotion (and wondering “Will I be able to perform in my new role?”), new parents expecting a baby, or the anticipation of taking a big trip to an unknown place.
For many people big changes can also bring about stress, such as buying a new home, or moving to a new place.
Natural Stress Relievers
A little bit of stress can be a good thing.
It can help motivate, and help to prepare you for a change.
Chronic stress however can have negative health consequences.
There are many natural remedies which can help curb stress – let’s have a look at a few:
Ashwagandha comes from traditional Ayurvedic medicine.
A 2017 study in the Journal of Evidence Based Contemporary Alternative Medicine showed a significant improvement in perceived stress for the group using Ashwagandha over a control group.
The entire plant, which is part of the nightshade family, can be used for its benefits.
2. Valerian Root
Valerian root is most commonly known for its use as a sleep-aid, as it has a calming, sedative effect on the body.
This plant, which is native to Europe, can also assist in quelling nervousness and anxiety.
Although this remedy does not come with other side effects such as grogginess, and does not cause dependence, it can interact with other drugs so it is recommended to discuss use with your doctor or pharmacist before trying it.
3. Bacopa Monnieri
Bacopa Monnieri is an herb from Indian Ayurvedic medicine which is used to boost memory, lower stress and improve mood.
A 2011 study in the journal Clinics showed an improvement in spatial learning and memory retention in rats given Bacopa monnieri extract.
Bacopa monnieri can help with stress relief by lowering levels of cortisol in the blood.
Also known as Golden Root this plant, which is native to the arctic regions of Asia and Europe, has been used since the 1st century CE.
It can be used to improve mood, reduce stress, and increase energy.
A 2009 Study in the journal Planta Med showed Rhodiola to have an anti-fatigue effect and it also helped to increase mental performance.
Seeing as how being fatigued can contribute to making stress worse, tackling this issue can thus assist with tackling stress itself.
5. Green Tea
Green tea contains an amino-acid called L-theanine which can help to reduce the stress response.
Although L-theanine is also found in black tea (which comes from the same plant as green tea), black tea is higher in caffeine, which can cause over-stimulation and lead to even higher stress levels than green tea.
If caffeine is an issue, and you want to avoid it altogether you can also look for L-theanine supplements.
Contact Dr. Simona
Are you stressed about stress?
Is stress having a negative impact on your life, or would you like strategies for handling it better?
Contact me, Dr. Simona, for a consultation.
We will discuss your stress triggers and work out a plan to help feel more in-control.