We all live with stress, each and everyone of us. We all experience different stressors daily ; crime, traffic, deadlines, relationships, living through a global pandemic... and all these stressors induce a physiological response in our bodies, enabling us to react to the stress and deal with it.
The stress response is normal, it’s vital for our survival. We perceive a threat, our body reacts by sending out stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones help the body ready itself to deal with the perceived threat. Once the threat has been neutralized, the body returns to normal functioning.
When the stress response is continually engaged long-term, be it from a high pressured job or a toxic relationship, the body is unable to return to normal pre-stress levels and this can have a negative impact on so many aspects of your health.
Chronic stress can lead to anxiety, depression, headaches, weight gain, high blood pressure , heart disease and a weakened immune system- making you vulnerable to more stress, disease and mental and emotional burnout.
Everyone reacts to different stressors differently. What deeply affects you, may not be perceived as a threat by me, and the ways in which we experience stress differs greatly from person to person too. Some individuals report a deep fatigue, loss of libido, insomnia or symptoms of chronic pain and eating disorders. Others experience brain fog, memory loss and are unable to focus and pay attention to tasks at hand.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, and there are some wonderful techniques for coping with stress. I recommend:
- get a good nights rest, every night. Try for 7-8hrs.
- eat a healthy diet. Try stay away from processed quick foods and eat more Whole Foods, fresh vegetables and fruits.
- try minimize your intake of caffeine rich drinks and alcohol
- exercise daily and consider meditation, yoga and mindfulness practices
- set yourself time everyday (even if it’s only 20minutes!) to do something that you love
There are also supplements that will help you withstand the ravages of stressful living. My absolute favorite is the Ayurvedic adaptogenic herb Ashwaghanda (withania somnifera). Studies have shown that this herb may be useful in treating anxiety and stress. It is thought to increase your bodies resilience to physical and mental stress.
Others to consider:
- Bacopa (bacopa monnieri)
- Rhodiola (rhodiola rosea)
Before you consider taking these supplements i advise that you consult with a medical practitioner, especially if you are already taking other medications or if you are pregnant. If stress becomes unmanageable in your life, speak to a medical professional or therapist. They will help you to find workable solutions.
Dr Monique Olivier