De-stress your life naturally!

Our lives are busy – work, study, family, and so much more so in the lead up to Christmas. Naturopaths see many clients suffering the effects of stress.

You may be worried, anxious, depressed, irritable, exhausted, overloaded or forgetful.  You may suffer stiff, sore muscles or joints, tension headaches, frequent colds or flus, you’re not sleeping at night.  Or you may have irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, or loss of appetite.  If you can relate to any of these then your body may be overburdened by stress.

So what is actually happening in our bodies when we are stressed? 

Firstly we go into “fight or flight” mode, where the chemical messengers adrenaline, cortisol and noradrenaline increase blood flow to the essential organs – the heart, lungs, brain and muscles – to help us “fight” or “run away”.  Cortisol increases the amount of sugar released into the blood to provide energy for our muscles to attack or run.  And digestive function slows down.  Once the stress is over, the chemical messengers return to normal.

But in our modern world, stress is more prolonged …

Ongoing stress that does not resolve becomes chronic stress, which can impact the cardiovascular system by contributing to high blood pressure, or affect the nervous system leading to exhaustion, headaches, insomnia or anxiety.  High stress has been shown to lower immune function and decrease the number of good bacteria in the gut with a corresponding increase in detrimental bacteria.  This can lead to dysbiosis and gut issues associated with irritable bowel, as well as more frequent colds and flus.

Stress is part of our everyday lives and almost impossible to avoid.  But it can and must be managed.  Don’t let work life, family life, financial matters or the build up to Christmas be stressful on your body.  Take measures now to manage this busy period.  For advice on how to manage your stress talk to our Naturopath or Osteopaths today.

Some tips for ‘de-stressing’ naturally:

  • Herbs such as Withania, Rhodiola, Passionflower, Zizyphus and St John’s Wort are all effective in reducing the effects of stress, anxiety and nervous tension.
  • Magnesium, B vitamins and glutamine are used in abundance when we are stressed, as the body needs these for energy production. Magnesium is effective in relaxing our muscles, calming the nervous system and an important nutrient for sleep.
  • Rest and relaxation – take time out!  Tai chi, yoga and meditation have all been proven to help reduce stress. So too does listening to music.
  • Think positively – this will help you get through a stressful period with more enthusiasm and drive. A daily mantra can motivate you.
  • Exercise – it helps our body to breakdown cortisol, it increases circulation and blood flow to all areas increasing our energy, and it encourages the release of endorphins.  It is also beneficial for sleep.
  • A healthy diet is important – fresh, brightly coloured fruit and vegetables, quality protein and foods high in essential fatty acids such as oily fish, nuts and seeds, are important to include in your diet.
  • Avoid coffee, caffeine, energy drinks, sugar and alcohol as these all contribute to fatigue in the long-term and cause a prolonged stress response.