Stress is a normal and unavoidable part of life. In small amounts, it can push us to exceed personal limits and meet our goals, but excessive, chronic stress can harm our health and must be addressed via effective stress relief practices (1).
Finding effective and sustainable ways to deal with stress can be a daunting task. You can start the process by first understanding what your stressors are and taking note of how each stressor affects you. The next thing you can do is to learn manageable methods to combat these stresses, whether that means avoiding them completely, or learning to live with them in more adaptive ways.
The following are some handy tips you can start with to help overcome stress.
Stressful reactions can come in the form of physical, emotional, and mental symptoms. It is helpful to take note of changes in your mood (e.g. irritability, emotional lability or sensitivity, difficulty in reaching and maintaining a state of calmness and relaxation, feeling “on edge”), fatigue or excessive sleepiness, muscle tension, migraines, abdominal discomfort, digestive issues, or even an inability to focus, make decisions, and stay alert (2). All of these may reveal your stressors, especially when they occur at predictable times and are caused by similar situations.
Stable blood pressure, a healthy diet, balanced mental health all contribute in spades to stress reduction (10). Relaxation techniques through guided imagery like focusing on slow deep breaths for when you feel overwhelmed, is a great stress reliever (11). The idea is to engage in physical activity and distract oneself with feel good techniques to bring down our stress levels (12).
Some people go the extra mile in terms of stress relief by taking vitamin supplements formulated to help combat the effects of frequent stress exposure. Vitamin B complex in particular, supports healthy stress response in the body. Vitamin B12 in particular is being researched more thoroughly for its potential link to a lower risk of mood-related issues, conditions that can be exacerbated by stress (7).
Two of the most effective tips for stress relief are getting appropriate and regular exercise, and good quality sleep at night. Rigorous physical activities that get the muscles to work and raise your heart rate for at least 20 minutes in a day not only take the mind off things, but also stimulates neurogenesis (3). Neurogenesis is the process where fresh neurons (brain cells) are born. When our brain is able to produce fresh neurons at a healthy rate, we’re more engaged in tasks, more present in activities, more alert, and are more critical, aware, and observant of the things happening around us. When we’re stressed out, this state of mental clarity is compromised. However, the simple act of exercising regularly can combat the consequences of stress in this context (8).
In addition to exercise, allowing yourself time to rest can be one of the best forms of stress relief. Rest includes giving yourself time for recreational activities, socialising, and getting enough nighttime sleep. When it comes to sleep, try to maintain a regular sleep routine and get at least six hours of undisturbed sleep, nightly.
There are also stress supplements you can consider to help support physical endurance and improve muscle strength. The rejuvenating herb ashwagandha is especially helpful for relieving symptoms of stress, enhancing the body’s adaptation to stress, and supporting healthy stress response in the body.
Stress can sometimes make you feel that you’ve lost control. You may not be able to think straight, or feel overwhelmed and powerless in how to manage your stress. Mindfulness habits have been found to be effective practices that are easily learned for the purposes of dialing down our perceptions of stressful situations.
The lesson on stress relief to learn here is that the cause of our stress may not actually be stressful situations in themselves (such as an exam, a work meeting, or an argument with a significant other), but what we think of these situations or anticipate them to be. Mindfulness habits help adjust our perceptions of unhealthy situations, the goal of which is to instill in us the belief that we’re in control of our thoughts and feelings, and that stress does not dictate them (9).
The herbs Ginkgo and Brahmi make a perfect companion to mindfulness habits, as they reduce symptoms of stress, they also work towards promoting body adaptation to stress.
Food fuels the body and the mind, and by doing so, improves our adaptive stress relief response (4).
The food that we eat contains vitamins and minerals that provide our body and mind the nutrition it needs, inadvertently helping with stress relief. Foods like fortified cereal and whole wheat bread have minerals like magnesium and zinc, as well as B vitamins like B complex that help support healthy stress response. They can reduce emotional unease and mild anxiety, both of which are common effects of stress (5, 6). If you cannot get all the nutrients you need through diet, taking stress supplements can ensure you receive adequate nutrients.
If you’ve already got a proper diet but still need a bit of help with stress relief, consider signing up for a vitamin subscription in Australia. Vitable offers personalised vitamin packs designed to meet your unique health needs and are conveniently brought directly to you via vitamin delivery service. Get vitamin supplements tailored to you containing all the stress-busting options as well as those needed to maintain and promote an overall healthy body.
Find out more about other areas that the above supplements can help you with:
*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.