Being constantly stressed and living a fast paced lifestyle is often perceived as a badge of honour but exposing our bodies to consistent stress can have a significant impact on our overall health.
Stress is a normal response that was historically triggered when we faced danger from predators, often known as fight or flight mode. When we feel stressed, cortisol is released from our adrenal glands and engages our fight or flight impulse.
By historic standards, modern stress triggers are fairly minuscule, often called micro stressors, but what is threatening our generation is sustained micro stress. Consistently high cortisol levels can have a significant impact on our health and not just in the typical signs of stress we may be aware of. It can affect our sleep, our diet and nutritional intake as well as our mood and mental health but also can even lead to chronic health issues, like heart disease. Now that we understand the physiology of stress, being constantly so doesn't seem quite a cool.
So how can we spot the signs of stress better? We asked Marishka Dunlop from life armour nutrition who says that "one of the most common signs is feeling quite uptight and tense. Whether you notice that your shoulders raise up a little bit, or a tightness of chest. It's worth checking in with your body and see if you're holding tension". There's also issues with sleep, feelings of anxiousness or low mood, raised blood pressure and increased or decreased appetite to name a few.
Once we've succeeded in recognising those signs, we need to know how to combat them. Here are a few tips:
Try to get into a sleep routine
It might sound like we're harking back to the days when we were told off for staying up past our bedtime but getting enough sleep as well as into a consistent bed time routine is a really important aspect of coping with stress. Set a regular time to hit the hay, try to limit looking at blue light from your phone, the TV or a tablet and avoid anything that makes you feel stressed, for example, tuning into the 10 o'clock news, reading a text book or answering work emails.
life armour's Drops of Slumber tincture can help calm you before sleep, or help you drift back off if you wake during the night. It's a 100% natural, non habit forming supplement that gets to work really quickly. And with a peppermint taste, it's not going to make you dread taking it!
Limit caffeine and alcohol intake
Both alcohol and caffeine can be stress crutches but really try to limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol you consume. Caffeine can make us feel a nervous energy and alcohol can impact sleep, neither of which are great for combating stress. If you feel the 3pm daily slump, why not try life armour nutrition's Energise Capsules to give you a caffeine free energy boost, trust us, they work wonders!
Of course it's important to be kind to yourself and allow yourself the odd treat but if you're seeing an increase in the amount of coffee runs you're doing, crumbling and cracking open the energy drinks, or the nightly red wine turns into a few glasses, try to limit and become mindful of your intake.
Breathe the stress away
Breathing is a fantastic way to calm yourself. So often in stressful situations we may feel shortness or shallowness of breath, or tightness in the chest. Marishka recommends a technique called box breathing because by pausing to take deeper breaths we can realign our focus. Try imagining a box, breathe in for four, creating the image of a box in your mind, breathe out for four, undoing the box and repeat until focus and calm is restored.
Exorcise those stress demons with exercise
People that exercise more regularly are less likely to experience anxiety. So whether it's doing star jumps whilst you're making a cup of tea, heading out for a lunch time run, or getting on the yoga mat before bed, no matter how much you dread exercising when you're feeling low or stressed, it can really help.
Lean on your loved ones
Taking time out to spend time with family and friends can be incredibly restorative, particularly for women. Whether that's setting time aside for dinner as a family, catching up with friends on a video call or having a lunchtime stroll with a housemate, oxytocin is released which is a natural stress reliever.
Supplement to stave off stress
Regularly supplementing with natural herbs can help to maintain balance, even in those stressful periods of your life. life armour nutrition's range of products are made with 100% natural ingredients and formulated to help combat stress using herbal ingredients called adaptogens. Marishka says "we use very well known and really well proven adaptogens in our supplements. The ashwagandha we use is clinically proven to reduce stress and anxiety. And then we also use ingredients like rhodiola and passionflower that really help and there's lots of data that shows that it lowers anxiety and helps with stress".
Her advice, if you're just starting to supplement is that, "it isn't about taking it one day and then forgetting it. It's about getting into that habit and getting into the routine. Within two to four weeks you will really start to feel an overall sense of calm and being a bit more in control". She recommends when starting to take Super Me capsules, to also support the build up of resilience is to take Drops of Balance at the same time. "It is great for on the go, and it works much more quickly than Super Me. It's a dropper and you pop it under your tongue or you can put into some water and they get to work really quickly, because it's into your bloodstream within 15 minutes to an hour."
Discover the range
And if you'd like to learn more about stress you can check out our replay of our Ask the Experts event:
Advice taken from a talk hosted on our IGTV https://www.instagram.com/tv/B-sRwW_Fe43/ and youtube
Regular exercise, anxiety, depression and personality: A population-based study; M.H.M.De MoorA.L.Beem, J.H.Stubbe, D.I.Boomsma, E.J.C.De Geus, Preventive Medicine Volume 42, Issue 4, April 2006, Pages 273-279
Biobehavioral responses to stress in females: tend-and-befriend, not fight-or-flight.
Taylor SE1, Klein LC, Lewis BP, Gruenewald TL, Gurung RA, Updegraff JA. Psychol Rev. 2000 Jul;107(3):411-29.
Ashwagandha for stress and anxiety https://www.ksm66ashwagandhaa.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/65999KSM66AshwagandhaInfoNo1.pdf