Stress can dominate our thoughts, keep us awake at night, and distract us from what we love. Although hard to avoid, persistent stress can contribute to mental and physical illnesses ranging from anxiety and depression to cardiovascular problems.
Tired of being told to reduce stress, relax, and find balance? We’ve all heard this once or twice, but what’s the solution? Heavy, like the weight of the world, stress can dominate our thoughts, keep us awake at night, and distract us from what we love.
At this time of year, stress can intensify due to shorter days with less daylight, holiday and money pressures, increased social obligations, and pervasive work stress. Although some stress is normal, persistent stress can raise cortisol levels (the hormone connected with stress) and contribute to illnesses ranging from anxiety and depression to cardiovascular, respiratory, and digestive problems.
Elevated stress may also be hard on our adrenal glands. Although the existence of adrenal fatigue is not recognized by the medical community, many natural and holistic health practitioners feel it is an authentic health concern and therefore offer treatments to support adrenal health.
According to registered holistic nutritionist Paula Blanchet, adrenal fatigue resulting from constant stress is not always addressed accurately because the symptoms aren’t always connected. She cautions that “adrenal fatigue can cause elevated cortisol levels, thyroid imbalance, digestion issues, weight gain, chronic fatigue, and other serious health concerns.” Therefore, when stress is dealt with, often, so is adrenal fatigue.
7 symptoms of adrenal fatigue
These are the common symptoms of adrenal fatigue, according to Blanchet:
- dramatic drop in blood pressure when standing
- excessive sweating
- neck/shoulder tension
- tightness in throat when under pressure
- frequent headaches
- high blood pressure
Lowering stress naturally with supplements that complement our bodies and lifestyles can work wonders, as we empower ourselves through self-care. Consult your health care practitioner to learn more about these stress-reducing supplements and see if any may be a good fit for you.
A celebrated adaptogen (a medicinal plant that combats stress), ashwagandha, in published research, has been shown to lower cortisol levels and help fight symptoms of stress. It’s even thought to help increase our overall resistance to stress.
Used for centuries to calm nerves and elevate mood, passion flower is widely recognized for stress and anxiety relief. Available in many forms, passion flower is considered a safe and effective supplement for stress relief.
Another common adaptogen, rhodiola is thought to help reduce stress and adrenal fatigue. Gaining popularity, this rose-scented herb may also help enhance mood and increase mental performance.
Used for centuries to decrease anxiety, lemon balm may lower cortisol and ease stress, while promoting performance and memory. It’s also a wonderful addition to food and tea with its sweet, lemony flavour.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort is most commonly suggested to ease symptoms of depression. Although more research is required, it may also ease mild anxiety and insomnia.
Supplements are a powerful start, but when paired with some small, incremental lifestyle changes, stress is reduced and the mind-body connection is strengthened. Try some of these techniques to de-stress and ramp up relaxation.
Sleep, diet, and exercise
These three are crucial to stress management: include foods in your diet that are high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, such as salmon, nuts, and avocado; get enough sleep; and add in some exercise.
Blanchet advises that “by reducing stress through diet, exercise, and adequate sleep, we can ensure healthy cortisol levels, better weight management, and balanced hormones.”
Soothe yourself with this calming practice, known as diaphragmatic breathing, by inhaling deeply and slowly from your diaphragm, while expanding your belly with focused intention. This often comes intuitively, so enjoy the feelings of well-being and relief this technique can provide.
Progressive muscle relaxation
Help reduce your stress by alternately tensing and relaxing various muscle groups sequentially throughout your body. Tense each set of muscles with focused concentration for 10 seconds and then relax them for 20. With practice, progressive muscle relaxation can provide enjoyable feelings of calm and effective relaxation.
Invest in yourself with this simple, yet effective, tradition. Transcendental meditation allows you to shift your awareness into a deeply restful state as you repeat a mantra and practice the art of sitting still with eyes closed. Research shows that this beneficial practice can provide increased resistance to stress and lower blood pressure. Aim for 20 minutes, twice daily.
Blanchet reminds us that the benefits of finding natural and effective ways to cope with our stress are well worth the effort: “By naturally supporting our systems with supplements and stress reduction techniques, our resistance to stress increases and coping mechanisms become ingrained.”
Less stress means a healthier body, a healthier mind, and a happier you—so let go of your stressed life and get on with your best life!
5 fun ways to relieve stress
- Get giving
- Helping others lowers stress and promotes feelings of well-being.
- Get laughing
- Lower stress instantly by laughing with a friend or enjoying something fun.
- Get outside
- Connect with nature to soothe your soul and help alleviate stress.
- Get moving
- Move your body, feel great, and naturally unwind.
- Get unplugged
- No phone, no screens, no stress! Take a break and de-stress.