It has been estimated that as many as ninety percent of all doctor’s visits are for symptoms that are at least partially related to stress. Stress is thought to contribute to a number of conditions including poor sleep, poor mental performance, weight gain, and more.[i]
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES?
For those who hit the ground running early in the morning and don’t let up until late at night, it is no wonder they feel stressed. The pressures of daily life are many including finding life-work balance as they juggle work, family, home life, relationships and financial concerns. The body is programmed to respond to stress by releasing a cascade of stress hormones and other chemicals (known as “the fight or flight response”) which can result in health issues when the stresses are a daily reality.
WHAT CAN I DO?
The first thing to do to reduce your stress is to recognize signs that you are under stress such as difficulty with sleep or concentration, irritability, anger, and other mood issues. It’s also important to understand your stress triggers which can be job stress, juggling kids’ activities and financial worries. Identifying your triggers is the first step to manage them.
Try the following:
- Learn to Relax: Deep breathing, exercise, meditation, and prayer are all helpful. Deep tissue or Swedish massage can relax muscles and lessen the effects of stress. After a long work day, find a comedy or romance movie to put a smile on your face.
- Exercise Regularly: Regular exercise of moderate intensity results in release of “feel good” endorphins that can be quite effective in countering the body’s “fight or flight” stress response.[ii]
- Supplementation: There are many nutrients that can help with stress reduction.
- L-Theanine is an amino acid which is known to help reduce stress.[iii] It works on the brain to help people feel relaxed but not drowsy.
- Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that has been studied and shown to help reduce stress in humans.[iv]
- Beta Sitosterol is a natural plant sterol and that has been shown to reduce the increase in cortisol typically seen in stressed athletes.[v]
- L-Tyrosine is an amino acid used by the body to create the neurotransmitter norepinephrine and has been shown to prevent a decline in cognitive function in response to physical stress.[vi]
Learning to manage stress may be one of your most important self-help skills—and it’s okay to reach out for professional help if your stress feels overwhelming.
[i] Barrington WE, Ceballos RM, Bishop SK, McGregor BA, Beresford SA. Perceived stress, behavior, and body mass index among adults participating in a worksite obesity prevention program, Seattle, 2005-2007. Prev Chronic Dis. 2012 Oct;9:E152. PMID: 23036611
[ii] Asmundson GJ, Fetzner MG, Deboer LB, et al. Let’s get physical: a contemporary review of the anxiolytic effects of exercise for anxiety and its disorders. Depress Anxiety. 2013 Apr;30(4):362-73. PMID: 23300122.
[iii] Kimura K, Ozeki M, Juneja LR, Ohira H. L-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses. Biol Psychol. 2007 Jan;74(1):39-45. PMID: 16930802
[iv] Auddy, Biswajit, et al. A standardized Withania somnifera extract significantly reduces stress-related parameters in chronically stressed humans: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. J Am Nutraceutical Assoc 11.1 (2008): 43-49.
[v] Bouic PJ, Clark A, Lamprecht J, et al. The effects of B-sitosterol (BSS) and B-sitosterol glucoside (BSSG) mixture on selected immune parameters of marathon runners: inhibition of post marathon immune suppression and inflammation. Int J Sports Med. 1999 May;20(4):258-62. PMID: 10376483
[vi] Shurtleff D, Thomas JR, Schrot J, Kowalski K, Harford R. Tyrosine reverses a cold-induced working memory deficit in humans. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1994 Apr;47(4):935-41. PMID: 8029265