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Stress, Anxiety and Your Adrenals

Oh stress, how prevalent you are these days! Stress acts to motivate and sharpen your focus and reactions when you are faced with an immediate issue or ‘danger’. This is a good thing. This kicks in your sympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as your ‘fight/flight’ response. For example, if you were faced with an immediate danger, aka a great white shark is in your close proximity, your ‘fight/flight’ response would intelligently kick in (thank goodness)! Your body would be pumped with cortisol and you would act accordingly (hopefully you survive this near shark attack by fighting or flighting!) The issue these days is, we are often staying in this ‘fight/flight’ response as these ‘immediate dangers’ are popping up numerous times a day, e.g. work deadlines, exams, financial concerns, our increasingly busy lifestyles, city traffic, and so on. This is keeping our ‘fight/flight’ response alert, with more and more cortisol pumping through our system and less time for our poor little parasympathetic nervous system (‘rest and digest’) to do what it needs to do. This chronic stress, sustained for long periods of time is affecting every system in your body. This is when stress quickly becomes not a good thing.

There are not many patients I see that don’t have some kind of stressor contributing to their health concerns. Stress can basically weave its way in to any of our bodily systems and run a muck. It can not only have a great impact on your mental health but your skin health, gut health, energy levels, sleep patterns, cardiovascular health, hormonal health, digestive health, immune health, weight management and more.

It is so important not to underestimate the impact that stress may be having on your physical and mental well-being. It is an unavoidable part of life, so learning how to control and manage your stress is vital. So, in a nutmeg shell…. reduce your stress levels! Easier said than done right? Herbal/nutritional medicine, diet and lifestyle factors are crucial in supporting your nervous system, adrenals, and mood. Some of the many ways to help reduce/cope with your stress levels include;

  • Enjoying at least 30 minutes of moderate activity/movement each day - Performing at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day has been linked to the prevention/management and improvement of countless diseases including osteoarthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, stress, depression, digestive issues and more. Choosing moderate-intense exercise/activities that you enjoy each day will not only boost your mood but your overall physical and mental well-being!

  • Eating magnesium-rich foods - Magnesium helps to relax your muscles and body and encourage a calm mind. Some magnesium-rich foods include red/white meat, nuts, spinach, sesame seeds, tahini, bananas, raspberries, cacao, prunes, parsley, sunflower seeds and legumes.

  • Eating foods rich in B vitamins - B vitamins all work together to help nourish your nervous system, brain functioning and energy production. Foods which increase your B vitamin consumption include wholegrains, chicken, lamb, beef, dark green leafy veggies, nuts, nutritional yeast, bananas, seafood and eggs.

  • Consuming Omega-3 fatty acids with every meal - Our essential Omega-3 fatty acids play a vital role in repairing and regenerating our brain and nervous system, helping to support memory, mood and brain functioning. Good sources of omega- 3 fatty acids include small oily fish (sardines, anchovies, mackerel), walnuts, flaxseed oil, and avocado.

  • Coffee drinkers - limiting your coffee consumption to 1 coffee/day (or 2 shots of coffee)

  • Enjoying at least 30 minutes of fun or relaxation time each day

  • Get out in Nature - I am not necessarily saying you have to go hug a tree (but try it, I dare you….it will probably feel pretty great), but incorporating nature on a daily basis to help calm your soul. This might look like jumping in the ocean (this will help boost your magnesium too!), watering your garden or walking on your grass barefoot for 5 minutes.

  • Get a good night’s sleep - Sleep allows for our body systems to repair and regenerate, including our precious nervous system, adrenals and brain. Factors to help achieve a good night’s sleep include; going to bed at the same time each night, waking up at the same time each morning, daily exercise in the sunshine, no screens at least 1 hour before bed, restful bedroom decor, not taking naps throughout the day and not going to bed on a full or empty stomach (eating dinner at least 2 hours before you go to bed).

Feeling stressed, anxious, lacking in energy, fatigued, or just not quite yourself? Say hello, and together we can nourish your nervous system, helping you return to your normal self again.