Stress is a general term used to describe the way we feel when we are under pressure, whether it is physical mental or emotional.
We need a certain amount of stress to give us the impetus to get out of bed in the morning and take an active part in life. However, we tend to feel symptoms of stress when there is too much to do or we feel there is too much pressure on us.
Part of the problem lies in the fact that we have not really evolved from pre-historic times. The stress response then was an invaluable response to life threatening situations. As soon as our brain detects a threat it releases the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol. These hormones prepare us to fight or get out of danger, the “fight or flight” response. When adrenalin is released the heart beats faster pumping blood into the muscles taking extra glucose into them to provide fuel for action. The muscles tense, we breathe faster to get more oxygen and the digestive process is shut down whilst we deal with the emergency.
All of this was fine when we were in mortal danger, however the brain has no means of “grading” stress, whether we are faced with a life threatening situation or there is an overdue bill or deadline to meet at work, it releases the same stress hormones. Stress hormones will also be released when we think about or imagine a stress situation because the brain has no way of knowing if the situation is real or imagined. So, worry about what might happen in the future will have the same detrimental effect on the system.
Symptoms of stress are many and varied and include:
- stomach problems,
- racing heart,
- rapid breathing,
- shortness of breath,
Many health problems have been associated with stress, including:
- alcohol abuse,
- chronic fatigue,
- erectile dysfunction and male infertility,
- heart disease,
- high blood pressure,
- immune system dysfunction,
- irritable bowel syndrome,
- anxiety and depression,
- peptic ulcers,
- pregnancy complications,
- rheumatoid arthritis,
- skin diseases and impaired wound healing.
Problems with recovery from surgery and impaired workplace performance are also associated with excessive stress.
Your primary defence against stress is to learn how to switch off the stress response by practising relaxation techniques and changing your habitual responses to stress situations. This is covered in great detail in the Stress Free Forever programme. You can download a free ebook “How to Relieve Stress” from the Stress Free Forever website.
Nutritional Supplements that could help. (Refer to the individual supplement for cautions in use.)
|Supplement/Herb||What it does||Dosage|
|Rhodiola||An adaptogenic herb that helps the body cope with stress. Supports the production of serotonin and reduces fatigue.||250 – 750mg per day|
|Siberian Ginseng||An adaptogenic herb that helps the body cope with stress. Keeps the immune system functioning correctly and reduces fatigue.||300 – 900mg per day|
|Valerian||Potent sedative and nerve tonic. Eases tension headaches and aids restful sleep.||as directed|
|Magnesium and Calcium||Deficiencies in the minerals magnesium and calcium may lead to irritability, tension and insomnia. Levels of these nutrients, especially magnesium, are likely to be depleted during stress.||200 – 600mg per day / 200 – 600mg per day|
|B-Complex vitamins||B vitamins are vital to stress tolerance; as well as being essential to proper nervous system function, certain ones are also needed for adrenal gland function and adrenal hormone manufacture. B vitamin deficiencies are often associated with anxiety and nervous disorders.||As directed|
|Vitamin C||Needed for adrenal and immune function.||1 – 2gms daily|
|Digestive enzymes||Helps to support digestion and absorption of food, useful as stress hormones switch off digestion.||as directed with each meal.|
Diet and Lifestyle Factors
Good nutrition is vital to help restore balance in the system as stress speeds up the body’s metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. This leads to loss of Vitamin C, potassium phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and B vitamins.
You should reduce or preferably eliminate:
Caffeinated drinks as they stimulate the release of adrenalin
Sugar which interferes with chemical processes in the brain
Refined carbohydrates which are stripped of vital nutrients
Alcohol which is a depressant
Saturated and trans fats
Increase your intake of:
Nuts and seeds and oily fish for their Omega 3 fats
Whole grains for fibre and B vitamins
Use the Stress Free Forever programme to help you manage stress more effectively.