Although some stress in our lives can be a good thing, too much stress can put the body under significant strain, causing a range of destructive physiological changes. Here we take a look at what stress is, and what can happen if it's not managed effectively.
We also provide some top tips for managing stress, as well as some suggestions for powerful herbal formulas that can help to reduce the negative effects that stress may have.
What is Stress?
When you feel under pressure, or threatened, your body responds as if the threat were physical. The response is intended to prime the body for "fight or flight" - the two instinctive responses to a threat. Whilst the stress response can be life-saving in the event of a physical threat when it's repeatedly triggered due to perceived, rather than real threats (for example a looming deadline, or attempting to get to an appointment on time in busy traffic), it starts to have a destructive impact on the body.
What Happens to the Body When we are Stressed?
As already indicated, a perceived threat will cause the body to go into "fight or flight" mode. This results in a number of changes in the body, including:
- The adrenal cortex releases cortisol. Cortisol causes glycogen (stored in the liver) to be converted to glucose (ready to give the muscles instant energy should you need to run from the threat) and temporarily reduces swelling following an injury (so that you can still evade the threat even if injured).
- The immune system is depressed.
- The heart rate rises.
- Breathing rate increases.
- Blood pressure increases.
- Blood is diverted from the stomach (and sometimes from the peripheries (hands and feet), to ensure sufficient oxygenation to the muscles needed to evade the threat.
In the short-term, and in response to a physical threat (being chased by a hungry lion, for example), these changes are beneficial, preparing the body for action. Unfortunately, when the body starts to respond to emotional threats by inducing the stress mechanism, it may end up in "fight or flight" mode for many hours each day. In the longer term, this situation increases the risk of developing both physical and mental health problems relating to the stress response becoming the body's "new normal".
What are the Symptoms of Unmanaged Stress?
If you're not sure how to manage stress or are going through a series of stressful events, you may notice the following symptoms. Whilst there may be other causes, stress could be a key factor.
- Feeling unable to cope or overwhelmed
- Forgetfulness or difficulty in getting organized
- Making errors or lacking focus
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Fatigue/low energy
- Digestive problems (such as stomach upsets or stomach aches).
- Tendency to catch coughs, colds, and other bugs more than usual.
- Aches and pains with no obvious cause.
- Jaw clenching and teeth grinding
These symptoms may become severe if individuals are subject to significant stress over a long period of time.
What are the Long-term Complications of Untreated Stress?
Unfortunately, if not managed effectively, stress may lead to:
- An increased risk of stroke, heart attack, or some other cardiovascular episode.
- Chronic high blood pressure.
- Eating disorders (including emotional eating).
- Obesity - stress causes metabolic changes that encourage the body to store fat).
- Mental health problems.
- Loss of libido and/or erectile dysfunction.
- Digestive problems.
- Issues with skin and hair, such as acne or alopecia.
People under long-term stress may also be more likely to self-medicate with drink, drugs, or food, to try and feel better. They may also feel less inclined to exercise or engage in positive activities, due to the lethargy and fatigue that unmanaged stress can cause.
Lifestyle Choices to Beat Stress
In the first instance, it's important to recognize that you're suffering from stress. Once you're aware of your stress symptoms, it's usually possible to remedy them.
- Recognize your stressors - if certain parts of your job are stressing you, for example, it may be possible to reduce stress by receiving additional training, delegating the task, or enabling the tasks to be completed in another way.
- Plan your days - be realistic about what can be achieved in 24-hours.
- Take time to exercise. Exercise has proven health benefits and can be a great opportunity for "me" time.
- Prioritize healthy nutrition for you and your family. Planning menus ahead of time makes this easier.
- Try a variety of mindfulness and stress-management techniques.
- Try to avoid self-medicating - if you're finding that your stress levels are still too high, consider an appointment with your care provider to discuss medication or talking therapy options.
Supplementation for Stress Management
Used alongside other positive changes, herbal formulas for stress can make a significant difference to the way in which individuals manage their stress. At Our Botanicals, we recommend the following three powerful herbal formulas to help manage stress levels:
With research showing that more than two-thirds of Americans don't take enough magnesium on board, this palatable super shot should form a cornerstone in your supplementation regime. Magnesium plays a key role in everything from cardiovascular health to muscle and neurological activity, detoxification, and energy production.
Sleep Now - Increasing the Chances of Healthy, Healing Sleep
Insomnia can be one of the most distressing symptoms of stress. In addition, over time it can also increase the risk of a number of chronic health conditions. Sleep Now contains natural melatonin in a palatable spray format. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that helps to regulate sleep.
People who supplement with melatonin often find that they can get to sleep more easily, and are less likely to wake up during the night.
If you need a gentle, supportive tincture that provides the brain with a range of beneficial compounds, the Brain and Neural support product is a good option. With an action that can diminish both the mental and physical effects of stress, this carefully formulated compound includes ingredients that are proven to assist individuals in maintaining their health and managing the potentially damaging effects of stress.
We also love using Tranquiliene Total Calm from Tranquility Labs. We recommend it because Tranquilene is a comprehensive, all natural anti-anxiety supplement designed to correct stress-causing nutritional imbalances over time while providing immediate herbal calming. Check it out here.
Contact one of the experienced practitioners at Our Botanicals for further information, support, and product recommendations to assist in successful stress management.