No one among us can live a completely stress free life, but you can take steps to ensure your body can resist the harmful effects of stress and even learn to thrive in stressful situations.
Stress is really your response to a perceived problem, and your response to even tough situations can become more balanced and calm with a few minor changes.
The body does a good job in helping you to remain healthy under stress when it’s properly nourished.
Following a whole foods, plant-based diet provides your body the nutrients it needs for a healthy stress response.
It’s particularly important to be aware that the body’s protein needs increase with stress.
Be sure to eat a high quality protein like organic poultry, legumes, or beans with each meal to maintain a healthy foundation.
Definitely avoid fast foods, sugar, and excess caffeine since these foods perpetuate the stress cycle by disrupting hormone balance, blood sugar, and loading the body with chemicals.
In addition to diet changes, you can turn to herbs for stress management. Adaptogens are a key class of herbs you can use to help your body become more resistant to daily stress.
Adaptogen plants grow in harsh habitats like the arctic and mountainous regions.
Traditional herbalists believe their ability to thrive in difficult conditions is carried over to the people who use them.
Adaptogens, like the name suggests, help your body to “adapt.” Adaptogens support the glands (especially the adrenals) and work to build stamina, energy, and endurance.
They are ideal for people under stress, with heavy workloads, or who are adjusting to changes in their lives.
Adaptogens are especially effective to combat the negative effects of stress like fatigue, poor performance or memory, and burnout.
Adaptogenic herbs have a building effect. The longer you use them, the greater their benefits.
Adaptogens work the best when taken daily or for at least a few months at a time.
A few good examples of adaptogens to build resistant to stress are: Siberian eleuthero (Eleuthero senticosus), American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis).
Another special adaptogen I use for stress is Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera).
Ashwagandha is both a nervine and an adaptogen. It helps to calm the nervous system while building overall resilience to stress.
Ashwagandha is considered a peaceful rejuvenator in Ayurveda, and is a great choice to bring balance to people who get overwhelmed by day-to-day stress and bigger challenges.
If you’re in need of fast relief of stress, nervine herbs work faster than adaptogens.
Nervine herbs have a mild sedating effect on the nervous system, but come without side effects like memory loss or addiction common to tranquilizing drugs.
A few examples of nervine herbs I work with for acute stress reactions are kava kava and passionflower.
Nervines are an excellent choice when you need a moment of calm from a stressful situation or intense emotions.
Our response to stress has a lot to do with our learned behavior, our upbringing, and our environment.
For people who don’t handle stress well, cognitive therapies like hypnosis and EFT can help you break free of behaviors or childhood traumas that may be keeping you stressed out.
Cognitive therapies retrain the brain to function better under stress, and can make a huge difference for people who find only temporary relief through other measures.Meditation is one of the most impressive relaxation therapies for stress available, and even has benefits for stress-related problems like high blood pressure.
You’ll never be able to control all the stress in your life. Life is in session, and it’s normal to experience some stress.
However, you can learn to fortify your mind and body, so you will be able thrive in stressful situations.
If small things like traffic, long lines at the store, or minor changes to your schedule overwhelm you, it may be time for extra stress support.
If you’re dealing with major life stress like loss, money problems, or a health issue, reach out for support and do your best to create a moment of calm each day.
A holistic approach with diet, whole herbs, cognitive and relaxation therapies can improve the body’s reaction to all types of stress and help protect your health from the damaging effects.
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