Stress is a natural, evolutionary body response. You instinctively react to stress with a ‘fight or flight’ response. It may be an acute stressful event eg. exams or an ongoing stress like raising kids.
Stress can manifest itself in many different ways and be an underlying factor behind many health conditions. Symptoms of acute stress include: fatigue, poor memory/concentration, mood changes, insomnia and digestive disturbances. Long term stress may lead to hormonal and thyroid imbalances, obesity, and a weakened immune system. It is important to deal with stress as it arises, as it can be both a cause and a consequence of poor health. Not only will you feel better, but it will benefit your future health.
Although exposure to stress may be unavoidable, there are ways to effectively manage stress and reduce its damaging effects. Some key nutrients that may be beneficial to you in times of stress include:
• Magnesium: Stress depletes magnesium, and a low level of magnesium in the body may actually make the effects of stress worse! Magnesium is important to support a healthy nervous system.
• B vitamins: Help to improve energy levels and support neurotransmitters, which are stress moderating brain chemicals to keep you in a good mood.
• Essential fatty acids: Are an essential building block for the brain and nervous system, helping to support healthy mood.
• Herbal medicine: Calming herbs provide relief from stress symptoms, while adaptogens nourish and support the bodies ability to deal with stress.
Other stress busting diet and lifestyle strategies include:
• Limiting caffeine and alcohol.
• Avoiding refined carbohydrates and sugary foods.
• Enjoy a small amount of dark chocolate.
• Regular exercise and physical activity.
• Schedule in some ‘me time’ doing an activity that you enjoy.
• Try meditation or progressive relaxation.
- Mel Khonsavang
BHSc - Naturopathy
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