Stress is a natural response when your brain perceives threat. From an evolutionary standpoint, it's useful if you need to out-run a predator or produce extra energy to find food. However, in modern life, stress can be less helpful[i]. Many of us experience a constant bombardment of obstacles in life causing stress. Whether this is through our relationships, financial struggles or pressures at work, it's no secret that chronic stress is bad for both our mental and physical health[ii].
This is your evolutionary ‘fight-or-flight’ response, when we need to out-run or confront danger. But this system is overloaded when we experience chronic stress. For many people it is very rare we are in our other, “rest and digest”, relaxation mode, known as the parasympathetic state. The key to balancing stress levels is to activate the “rest and digest” state so that we can out-weigh our “fight or flight” response[iii].
Chronic stress can create health problems in our bodies such as raising blood pressure and negatively impacting our digestive health. When the sympathetic nervous system is activated, the heart rate and blood pressure increase, whilst it decreases the blood flow to the digestive system and bowels to prioritise oxygen to where it’s needed, such as the muscles[iv].
Luckily, there are many quick and simple ways to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, it could be through adopting a 'breathwork' routine during your breaks at work. Or listening to meditation apps. Going to yoga classes is also a very helpful way to make time for yourself and work on your mental and physical health through this deeply restorative form of exercise and meditation.
Here at Therapy Organics, we offer many therapies to induce deep relaxation, so why not treat yourself or a loved one? Speak to us today to book an appointment:
Neom Body Treatment – Stress: The treatment focuses on grounding, bringing you out of a busy mind and into your body. Moves are made on reflex points on the feet which connect the brain and body, release stress from key holding points in the body, the main supportive structures of the body to release tension and emotional stress.
Massage: Aromatherapy Massage is a beautifully relaxing, stress-relieving massage which releases tension from the muscles and soft tissues of the body. It involves the controlled use of Essential Oils from aromatic plants by inhalation and bodily application to promote physical, psychological and spiritual wellbeing.
Reflexology: As a treat, for relaxation and stress management reflexology treatment can be very beneficial.
The research on the relationship between nutrition and mental health has been growing. Make sure you include these nutrients in your daily intake to reduce stress.
Tryptophan: This nutrient is needed to make the neurotransmitter serotonin which regulates mood, sleep and wellbeing[v]. It's rich in food sources such as Turkey, chicken, fish, eggs, cottage cheese, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, tahini, and Brazil nuts. Try Viridian L-Tryptophan.
Essential fatty acids: support the structure and functioning of the brain and nervous system[vi]. Essential fatty acids are in oily fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, sardine, anchovies, herring), algae, nuts and nut butter, seeds and seed butter, cold-pressed hempseed oil, cold-pressed flaxseed oil. Try Viridian Vegan EPA and DHA (30ml) or Mindful Fish Oil (30 Caps).
B-vitamins: Needed to support the production of neurotransmitters, which function in our brain[vii]. B vitamins are incredibly important during times of stress as we use this up much quicker when our body is under stress. B vitamins are water soluble so our bodies need a continual supply of these nutrients. When these are low we can feel fatigued, unmotivated and our mood can also suffer. Food sources include avocados, beans, lentils, eggs, nuts and nut butter, seeds and seed butter, and wholegrains ― oats, rye, barley, millet, quinoa, brown rice, and amaranth. Try Super B Extra (60 Capsules).
Magnesium: Calms the nervous system. It plays a vital role in brain health, including stress and anxiety[viii]. Magnesium is found in food such as in Rye, wild rice, green leafy vegetables (spinach, lettuce, chard, kale and spring greens), nuts and seeds (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, pistachio, cashew, almonds, peanuts and hazelnuts. Try Magnesium Glycinate by Pure Encapsulations.
Antioxidants: The role of antioxidants is to protect the brain from damage by free radicals[ix]. Read more about antioxidants here. Some good food examples include: Sweet potato, avocado, dark green leafy vegetables, yellow / red peppers, pumpkin, butternut squash, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, watercress. Try Terranova Antioxidant Nutrient Complex.
Epsom Salt Bath: Epsom salt baths are a great way to destress as they relax the muscles to help you unwind. Due to their high magnesium content, Epsom salts promote the release of lactic acid from muscle tissue. An Epsom salts bath can be helpful any time you are suffering from achiness and muscle strain. Try Anchor Bath soak (400g) or Magnesium Good Mood Bath Flakes (1kg).
Stress may come from external factors that are unavoidable but also can be from the pressures we put on ourselves and even through intense exercise. It's during stressful periods when we have an even greater need to recharge the batteries but its unfortunate that during these times, we seem to have less time to prep good nourishing foods to refuel our bodies.
This is where one of our favourite products of all time comes in.... drum roll please for the almighty Dr Schultze's Superfood! This greens blend has been around for years and the attention to detail of how this supergreens powder is made is second to none in our opinion. Blending chorella, spirulina, algae and also saccharomyces cerevisiae alongside other powerhouse ingredients.
Other favourite products include:
Organic Lemon Balm Tincture 50ml: Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), a member of the mint family, is considered a calming herb. It was used as far back as the Middle Ages to reduce stress and anxiety, and promote sleep[x].
DIRTEA Reishi Mushroom Powder (60g): For calm, destress & immunity, reishi mushroom powder can enhance your immune system whilst also helping to reduce stress, centre yourself and can improve your quality of sleep.
Pukka Wholistic Ashwaghanda: Ashwagandha is one of the best herbs for supporting your body during stressful periods. It’s adaptagenic, which means it’s clever. It adapts its action according to the requirements of your body. The main action of Ashwagandha is to support the adrenal glands (glands that sit above the kidneys) which produce adrenaline and cortisol (our stress hormones) and importantly our sex hormones which are so affected by stress[xi].
Inner Peace (60 Capsules): containing an organic herbal combination of ashwagandha, chamomile and lavender to support resilience and promote a sense of calm.
Adaptogen Inner Beauty Boost (500ml): A bio-fermented elixir with activated vitamins B6 and B12 to help reduce fatigue. With bio-fermented papaya and adaptogenic herbs ashwagandha and holy basil.
Organic Pharmacy Relax Tincture 50ml: Relax and relieve anxiety with this combination of herbal tonics and adaptogens that will support the nervous system and help the body cope with stress. Oats, Ashwagandha, Holy Basil and Siberian Ginseng combine to support the nervous system[xii].
Adrenal Stress Index[xiii]: The adrenal stress profile measures adrenal cortex function and the circadian fluctuation in the hormones cortisol and DHEA. Talk to us today for more advice about our range of products and testing options we have on offer. Through busy and challenging times, the adrenals may be overworked and become fatigued. This can result in a breakdown of optimal function, feelings of stress and/or anxiety, reduced energy and vitality, and potential hormonal imbalance.
Thyroid function: it is worth checking thyroid function, as states of hyperthyroidism can be linked to experiences of unexplained stress and anxiety. Usually testing for markers such as TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), FT3 & FT, thyroid function tests can be sought privately or through your GP. Talk to us for further advice[xiv].
If you believe stress to be causing long term issues and disruption to you, please talk to us about booking a Nutrition Consultation. Working with a practitioner can help undo some of the causes, whilst supporting your body through changes towards an improved quality of life.
[i] Yaribeygi H, Panahi Y, Sahraei H, Johnston TP, Sahebkar A. The impact of stress on body function: A review. EXCLI J. 2017 Jul 21;16:1057-1072.
[ii] Schneiderman N, Ironson G, Siegel SD. Stress and health: psychological, behavioral, and biological determinants. Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2005;1:607-28.
[iii] Rudolf Hoehn-Saric, Daniel R. McLeod, The Peripheral Sympathetic Nervous System: Its Role in Normal and Pathologic Anxiety, Psychiatric Clinics of North America, Volume 11, Issue 2, 1988, Pages 375-386.
[iv] Jarczok, M.N., Jarczok, M., Thayer, J.F. (2020). Work Stress and Autonomic Nervous System Activity. In: Theorell, T. (eds) Handbook of Socioeconomic Determinants of Occupational Health. Handbook Series in Occupational Health Sciences. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-...
[v] Jenkins TA, Nguyen JC, Polglaze KE, Bertrand PP. Influence of Tryptophan and Serotonin on Mood and Cognition with a Possible Role of the Gut-Brain Axis. Nutrients. 2016 Jan 20;8(1):56.
[vi] Bradbury J, Myers SP, Oliver C. An adaptogenic role for omega-3 fatty acids in stress; a randomised placebo controlled double blind intervention study (pilot) [ISRCTN22569553]. Nutr J. 2004 Nov 28;3:20.
[vii] Young LM, Pipingas A, White DJ, Gauci S, Scholey A. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of B Vitamin Supplementation on Depressive Symptoms, Anxiety, and Stress: Effects on Healthy and 'At-Risk' Individuals. Nutrients. 2019 Sep 16;11(9):2232.
[viii] Pickering G, Mazur A, Trousselard M, Bienkowski P, Yaltsewa N, Amessou M, Noah L, Pouteau E. Magnesium Status and Stress: The Vicious Circle Concept Revisited. Nutrients. 2020 Nov 28;12(12):3672.
[ix] Pizzino G, Irrera N, Cucinotta M, Pallio G, Mannino F, Arcoraci V, Squadrito F, Altavilla D, Bitto A. Oxidative Stress: Harms and Benefits for Human Health. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:8416763.
[x] Scholey A, Gibbs A, Neale C, Perry N, Ossoukhova A, Bilog V, Kras M, Scholz C, Sass M, Buchwald-Werner S. Anti-stress effects of lemon balm-containing foods. Nutrients. 2014 Oct 30;6(11):4805-21.
[xi] Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012 Jul;34(3):255-62.
[xii] Lee S, Rhee DK. Effects of ginseng on stress-related depression, anxiety, and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. J Ginseng Res. 2017 Oct;41(4):589-594
[xiii] Goldstein DS. Adrenal responses to stress. Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2010 Nov;30(8):1433-40.
[xiv] Effraimidis G, Tijssen JG, Brosschot JF, Wiersinga WM. Involvement of stress in the pathogenesis of autoimmune thyroid disease: a prospective study. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2012 Aug;37(8):1191-8.
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.