Hands up if you ever get stressed when late for an appointment, or trying to get the kids out the door to school?
Our stress response developed so that we could either fight or flee from an animal or attacker. Under stress you need more energy so your body releases adrenaline and cortisol, hormones that release sugar from your body’s stores. This creates extra energy. Your eyes dilate, your senses are heightened, your muscles tighten, your blood vessels opens up to get blood to your extremities and your heart beats faster. You feel ready for action.
However, as energy demand is high, it is diverted from other systems in your body and can have a negative effect on your hormone levels, your digestive and immune systems and also your nervous system, leading to sleep disruption, anxiety and even depression.  It can also affect how you store food, causing you to gain weight.
So, each time you call on your stress response, several parts of your body are impacted, whether you are stuck in a traffic jam and late for an appointment, or facing a deadly sabre-tooth tiger!
Here are the 5 top tips on how to manage that stress response, the natural way:
  • Snack, don’t starve
Don’t rely on sugary foods or caffeine to keep you going, or go hours without food. This in itself places pressure on the body as stress hormones are released when blood sugars dip too low. Eat every 3 hours and always combine a protein, preferably vegetarian or fish, with a complex carbohydrate, e.g. oatcakes with peanut butter, carrot sticks and hummus, a clementine and a handful of nuts.
  • Supplement
Take vitamins B and C as these help support energy production and boost mood. Theanine is good for relaxing you and magnesium is known as ‘nature’s tranquiliser’ a very calming mineral.
  • Sleep hygiene
Boost good sleep by listening to relaxing music and eating magnesium rich foods, such as dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, lentils and wholegrains. Stop looking at your computer, TV or phone an hour before bed because the light from these devices can decrease melatonin levels which should be high in order to go to sleep.
  • Stay calm, don’t shout
You are in control of how you react to different situations. If you’re stuck at unforeseen roadworks, there’s nothing you can do about it, so try to stay calm. The herbal remedy Siberian ginseng can help control your stress reaction. Try deep breathing for 5 minutes. Make time to unwind, have an Epsom salts bath or schedule a massage.
  • Stay in shape
Research clearly shows that exercise reduces stress. Find a DVD you can do at home, or put time in the diary for a swim or a walk.
Nutritional Therapist