The American Psychological Association states that we experience three different kinds of stress: acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress.
The most common form of stress is acute stress. You may experience acute stress when getting into a fight, giving a talk, getting into a car accident, etc.
Episodic acute stress happens when you experience acute stress frequently. Individuals experiencing episodic acute stress are often anxious or irritable.
If you don’t manage acute stress, and it continues for an extended period of time, it becomes chronic stress. When you are in a bad relationship, have ongoing financial problems, or are stuck in a stressful job you may experience chronic stress.
Signs of stress
I have talked to thousands of men and women over the past 3 decades, discussing hormones, adrenal fatigue, and sexual dysfunction. It never ceases to amaze me how stress affects us on so many levels. And most importantly, how both healthcare providers and patients may fail to connect stress to worsening of symptoms.
Physical signs of stress
Change or decrease in sex drive
Digestive problems and upset stomach
Insomnia or trouble sleeping
Muscle pain or tension, neck or back pain
Mental and emotional signs of stress
Lack of motivation
Behavioral signs of stress
Lack of appetite
Loss of desire for physical activity
8 Natural ways to reduce stress
Meditation and other relaxation techniques
Meditation can lower high blood pressure, reduce resting heart rate, and decrease the body’s stress hormone, cortisol. Mindfulness and breathing exercises can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Set aside a few minutes each day to simply focus on your breathing. There are many free apps for guided meditation exercises.
Connect with nature
Spending time outdoors has been shown to improve mood and reduce stress levels. Research suggests that even looking at photos of nature can help improve your mood.
Unplug from your electronic devices
Too much screen time can increase stress and anxiety. Limit the amount of time you spend on social media, reading/watching the news, and checking texts or emails. Step away from your computer or phone at regular intervals throughout the day.
Organize and prioritize tasks
Use a planner to plan your week. You can limit unnecessary stress by being organized and planning ahead.
Stay connected to friends and family
Keeping in touch with family and loved ones can improve your ability to deal with stress. Studies suggest that social connection plays a role in longevity and overall health.
Physical activity can improve the way you handle stress. Exercise causes your body to release chemicals such as endorphins, which can improve your mood and reduce anxiety. Studies show that adults should participate in at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate-intensity exercise each week.
Supplements to help manage and reduce stress.
Ashwagandha is extracted from the roots of an evergreen shrub native to India and Southeast Asia. It is believed that ashwagandha can help balance your hormones and your adrenal glands. Clinical research has shown that this plant can help with thyroid hormones, sexual function, memory, and your body’s ability to handle stress and anxiety. Ashwagandha may even help bring your cortisol level under control.
Chamomile can help promote calmness and reduce anxiety. Chamomile may even improve sleep. You can find Chamomile in capsule form, tea, or essential oils.
3. Lemon balm
Lemon balm has been shown to reduce anxiety. One study found that taking lemon balm for eight weeks resulted in a significant reduction in symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress.
Drinking a beverage infused with lemon balm can help lower your stress and anxiety levels.
L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea. A meta-analysis of nine peer-reviewed articles concluded that L-theanine supplementation reduces stress and anxiety. One study showed that perceived stress was significantly reduced one hour after supplementation with L-Theanine and cortisol levels decreased after three hours.
Low-caffeine green tea can improve sleep quality in middle-aged and elderly people by reducing stress.
Magnesium has been shown to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. Under acute stress, magnesium levels drop as more magnesium is excreted through the urine. Supplementing with magnesium can help maintain adequate magnesium levels and support you in handling stress.
6. Valerian root
Valerian root has been used to help improve sleep and reduce both physical and psychological symptoms of stress. One of the compounds in valerian root extract, valerenic acid, helps maintain gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA helps reduce anxiety.
7. B vitamins
B vitamins can have benefits in reducing depression, anxiety, and work-related stress. B6, B9, and B12 may help alleviate your symptoms especially when you struggle with high levels of stress.
8. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is essential for the body’s response to stress. The adrenal glands require vitamin C to stay healthy. During stress, vitamin C (ascorbic acid) disappears from the bloodstream at a very rapid rate. Whether you are experiencing good or bad stress, your adrenal glands need additional vitamin C.
Chronic stress can take a toll on your health. It is essential for you to have healthy strategies to help manage your stress. Taking certain nutrients and botanicals can be beneficial in helping your body handle stress in a healthier way. You can find a variety of supplements that are hand-picked for stress management and adrenal support at Fullscript. Before choosing a treatment plan, consult one of our pharmacists for recommendations specific to your needs.