Working towards an approaching deadline, waiting for the bus when you’re running
late, preparing for a daunting interview - these are some experiences that may
result in stress. Whilst in the midst of these situations stress may seem
overwhelming, people are resilient in their capacity to experience stressors and
effectively recover from them.
Stress is the expected human reaction to a challenging or dangerous situation
(1). It is a process that occurs when a situation demands more from us,
Working towards an approaching deadline, waiting for the bus when you’re running late, preparing for a daunting interview - these are some experiences that may result in stress. Whilst in the midst of these situations stress may seem overwhelming, people are resilient in their capacity to experience stressors and effectively recover from them.
Stress is the expected human reaction to a challenging or dangerous situation (1). It is a process that occurs when a situation demands more from us, physically or mentally, and the available resources to cope with these demands are not enough. Stress may vary from person to person: what may feel extremely stressful for one person can be manageable for another (2).
Effects of stress
Stress is not always a bad thing: some people thrive under stress, leveraging it as motivation to get things done. However, too much stress can have negative effects on your health. This can include affecting learning and memory processes. The body’s immune system may also suffer from excessive stress (3). It can affect your everyday life by adding strain on both your mental and physical performance.
Repeated exposure to stress can also lead to a tendency to self-soothe or look for comfort during periods of high stress. They can lead to negative habits such as stress-eating, whereby the hunger cues are ignored and consumption of food is used to fill an emotional void caused by feelings of stress (4).
Poor habits under stress
Stress can reinforce and promote the forming of unhealthy and potentially harmful habits (4). For instance, the stressor may act as a trigger for certain actions or behaviours, such as overeating or shopping. These actions or behaviors may feel like rewards after undergoing stress.
When left unaddressed, or if other factors such as the timing of the stressor prove too much to handle, stress can lead us to lean on these habits. The heavier dependence on these actions or behaviours, as in the case of compulsive eating or shopping, may have negative effects on our physical and mental wellbeing.
Any adverse effects of stress and the persistence of bad habits such as stress-eating and other similar activities can be avoided with proper stress management.
How to manage stress
Stress management is a combination of good habits that comes from being able to identify what your stressors are. When your stressors are greater than your ability to cope, you need to restore, reboot and recalibrate. This can be done by reducing or removing the stressor, or increasing your ability to cope, or both (5).
Leading an active lifestyle can help deal with stress. Exercise prompts your body to release hormones that make you feel good, such as endorphins, which can help reduce stress. Exercise can also release tension in your body, which can build up over time due to stress (6).
A nutritious diet is also important for stress management. Eating plenty of healthy food such as fruits and vegetables, and avoiding highly processed foods, sugar, refined carbohydrates and saturated fats can help your body cope with stress (2). Preparing your body and giving it the right tools to reduce and manage stress through adequate nutrition can go a long way in stress management.
Supplements to help mitigate the effects of stress
A healthy and well-rounded diet can provide you with all the nutrients needed to help manage stress. If you want to ensure that you receive these nutrients sufficiently, supplementation can be considered. These are some of the vitamins and minerals you can choose to help support stress management:
Ashwagandha is one of the most widely known herbs of the traditional medicine system of India, Ayurveda. It is traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to help relieve symptoms of stress (7).
Ashwagandha supplements can help enhance the body's adaptation to stress through restoring stress-induced alterations in the body’s cortisol and glucose levels, among others (8).
Magnesium is a mineral naturally produced in our bodies and can be found in many leafy green vegetables and animal foods. It is essential in many enzyme systems in our body that are responsible for growth and the production of energy (9). Magnesium is a common factor in many stress-related pathologies.
Boosting the amount of magnesium your body has can lead to benefits that include added support to the body’s moderation of stress (10). The level of magnesium in our bodies is closely linked to stress levels (10).
Vitamin B complex
Vitamin B complex is a group of eight water-soluble vitamins essential for various processes in the body involving metabolism. Most of these vitamins can’t be stored in the body and must be consumed regularly via our diet (11).
Taking vitamin B complex supplements can help promote healthy stress responses in our bodies by aiding the reduction of stress and fatigue (2). It achieves this by maintaining the body’s homocysteine levels, which is an indication of stress levels (12).
Calcium is an essential element that is part of various bodily functions, such as the growth of our bones (13). Calcium deficiency in the body can lead to rise of stressors in the body (14), so if your diet is lacking in calcium-rich foods, you may want to consider supplementation to help address potential shortfalls.
Vitamin B12 is involved in helping the body produce red blood cells, the processing of food to energy, and keeping the nervous system healthy (15). Vitamin B deficiency is linked to the body’s homocysteine levels (16). Adding a vitamin B12 supplement to your diet can be a beneficial way to support healthy stress responses in your body.
Ginkgo and Brahmi
Ginkgo is one of the world’s oldest living plant species and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, while Brahmi is a common herb used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine (17).
Together, Ginkgo and Brahmi are known to contain agents that can help enhance the body’s reaction to stress and promote stress relief (18). Ginkgo and Brahmi supplements may be a good choice for your stress management journey.
These are just some of the vitamins and minerals that can be used to tailor-fit your stress management needs. It is important to be aware of the unique needs of your body, to help prepare it for whatever daily challenges and stressors your day can bring.
Vitable offers vitamin delivery in Australia right to your doorstep. Our monthly vitamin subscription can contain vitamins and minerals personalised for your everyday health needs.
Find out more about other areas that the above supplements can help you with:
Yaribeygi, H., Panahi, Y., Sahraei, H., Johnston, T., Sahebkar, A. “The impact of stress on body function: A review”. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Nih.Gov. Published July 21, 2017 onhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5579396/. Accessed November 7, 2021.
Schwabe, L., & Wolf, O. T. “Stress Prompts Habit Behavior in Humans. Journal of Neuroscience”. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Nih.Gov. PublishedJune 3, 2009 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6666491/. Accessed November 7, 2021.
Singh, N., Bhalla, M., de Jager, P., & Gilca, M. “An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda”. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Nih.Gov. Published July 3, 2011 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252722/. Accessed September 2, 2021.
Salve, J., Pate, S., Debnath, K., & Langade, D. “Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Clinical Study”. National Library of Medicine: Pubmed.Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov. Published September 1999 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6979308/. Accessed November 7, 2021.
Nutrients Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand Content Team. “Magnesium”. Ministry of Health, Nutrients Reference Values: Nrv.Gov.Au. Nih.Gov. Published April 9, 2014 on https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/magnesium. Accessed November 7, 2021.
Vink, R., & Nechifor, M. “Magnesium in the Central Nervous System”. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Nih.Gov. Published 2011 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507250/. Accessed November 7, 2021.
Stough, C., Simpson, T., Lomas, J., McPhee, G., Billings, C., Myers, S., Oliver, C., & Downey, L. A. “Reducing occupational stress with a B-vitamin focussed intervention: a randomized clinical trial: study protocol”. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Nih.Gov. Published December 22, 2014 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4290459/. Accessed November 7, 2021.
Vannucci, L., Fossi, C., Quattrini, S., Guasti, L., Pampaloni, B., Gronchi, G., Giusti, F., Romagnoli, C., Cianferotti, L., Marcucci, G., & Brandi, M. L. “Calcium Intake in Bone Health: A Focus on Calcium-Rich Mineral Waters”. S National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Nih.Gov. Published December 10, 2018 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6316542/. Accessed November 7, 2021.
Kaschel, R. “Ginkgo biloba: Specificity of neuropsychological improvement-a selective review in search of differential effects”. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental. Published June 23, 2009 on https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hup.1037. Accessed November 7, 2021.
Walesiuk, A., Trofimiuk, E., & Braszko, J. “Ginkgo biloba normalizes stress- and corticosterone-induced impairment of recall in rats”. Pharmacological Research, 53(2), 123–128. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phrs.2005.09.007
Tamura, J., Kubota, K., Murakami, H., Sawamura, M., Matsushima, T., Tamura, T., Saitoh, T., Kurabayshi, H., & Naruse, T. “Immunomodulation by vitamin B12: augmentation of CD8+ T lymphocytes and natural killer (NK) cell activity in vitamin B12-deficient patients by methyl-B12 treatment”. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Nih.Gov. Published April 1999 on https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10209501/. Accessed November 6, 2021.
Gutiérrez, S., Svahn, S. L., & Johansson, M. E. “Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Immune Cells”. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Nih.Gov. Published October 11, 2019 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6834330/. Accessed November 6, 2021.
Agrawal, S., Agrawal, A., & Said, H. M. “Biotin deficiency enhances the inflammatory response of human dendritic cells”. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Nih.Gov. Published July 13, 2016 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5129763/. Accessed November 6, 2021.
Alzyood, M., Jackson, D., Aveyard, H., & Brooke, J. “COVID‐19 reinforces the importance of handwashing”. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Nih.Gov. Published May 14, 2020 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7267118/. Accessed November 7, 2021.