Have you ever felt that overwhelming state of mind? That feeling that can make it hard to think, perform or even breathe. I might go onto a stage full of people and find it hard to breathe, but for someone else that would be a breeze. People can feel and respond to stress in different ways.

Stress commonly transpires when outside provocations disturb the dynamic balance of the body’s physiological processes. A specific signalling network called the HPA axis regulates the body’s stress response.

Acute stress helps prepare the body to react to direct and temporary threats. Occasional mild stress, like exercise, is healthy and promotes positive adaptive changes. Chronic stress, on the other hand, causes maladaptive responses and dysregulated HPA axis function. It can add to many health problems by disturbing the circadian rhythm, which promotes inflammation, adjusting the microbiome and causing epigenetic changes.

How can I help reduce my stress levels?

Cognitive-behavioural therapy
Meditation and mindfulness
Exercise
Maintain sufficient sleep duration and consistent sleep patterns
Maintain sex hormone balance
Eat more fruits and vegetables
Eat breakfast regularly
Minimize caffeine and alcohol intake

Can I take medications for stress?

Most cases of stress can be handled with dietary and lifestyle interventions. Though, in more severe cases when stress is adding to other conditions such as anxiety or insomnia, medications may be suitable for short-term use to briefly address the stress-related condition. It is crucial to note that medications do not eradicate stress or the causes of stress, but solely provide momentary relief from some of the symptoms caused by stress.

Can I treat stress the natural way?

B vitamins – deficiencies are linked with multiple neuropsychiatric disorders. Supplementation with B vitamins has been shown to relieve stress and promote normal HPA axis function.

Vitamin C – low intake and circulating levels of vitamin C are associated with signs of depression and anxiety. Boosting vitamin C levels through supplementation has been shown to reduce symptoms.

Omega-3 fatty acids – found in fish oil, may help limit and treat stress, anxiety, and depression.

L-theanine – an amino acid found in tea, has been shown to reduce stress and physiological markers of the stress response.

Bioactive milk peptides – found in milk, such as α-lactalbumin and casein, may support healthy neurological function, enhance mood, and improve sleep.

Probiotics and prebiotics – can promote the balance of gut bacteria and have a positive impact on one’s stress response. Probiotics may lower stress reactivity and anxiety, and enhance mood, memory, and cognition.

Adaptogens – help support balance in the body and can be used to alleviate fatigue, improve cognitive function and mood, and support the immune system.

Magnolia and Phellodendron – this herbal mixture has been found to reduce stress and stress-related weight gain.

Ashwagandha – has been shown to relieve stress, improve stress-related eating behaviours, and promote weight loss.

Lemon balm – has been found to enhance mood and cognition and reduce symptoms of anxiety and insomnia.

Stress is something that we can never eradicate from our lives as there will always be stressors, but you can find ways to aid in reducing stress and how you respond to stress.