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Dr. Ben Connolly

Stress, and how to manage it

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Something that everyone copes with, stress is both natural and, at times, problematic. Understanding it is a key component in managing it – an important differentiator from trying to ‘eliminate’ it.

What is stress?

Stress is the primary physical response our body generates when we feel we’re under attack, creating a ‘fight or flight’ survival instinct. To achieve this, the body releases a mix of both hormones and chemicals that prepare us for a physical reaction, and we suffer the side-effects in our daily lives, regularly. It should also be noted that our body has only one response to stress regardless if the stressor is negative or positive. For example, a very busy vacation with the family to Disney land causes the body to mount the exact same chemicals and hormones as sitting in traffic late for your 9 AM meeting with your boss.

It’s hard to classify a natural response as negative, though many of us would prefer to sidestep the hindrance of stress and its effect on our personal or professional lives. A healthier perspective might be to pursue managing how stress motivates us and where, as opposed to eliminating it entirely. For example, stress is also the driving factor behind boosts of energy or muscle response, supplying a shot of adrenaline and, in many cases, empowering us to respond to challenging situations.

The other side of the coin is that stress can hinder our capacity for critical thinking, in addition to increasing blood and sugar levels, decreasing libido, causing unhealthy weight loss or gain, and more. It’s a utility acting as both asset and hindrance, so let’s consider how to leverage it without allowing it to stand as an obstacle.

 


How can we manage stress?

Fortunately, there are several proven ways to manage stress and the symptoms that come with it. Better still, these recommendations won’t cost a fortune or consume significant amounts of time (which tends to cause more stress!) Things like augmenting your schedule with exercise, or your diet with tea, for example. Let’s dig in!

Vitamins and minerals:
There are a number of beneficial vitamins and minerals one can use to reduce jitters and stress. A B complex vitamin is commonly used to promote brain and nervous system health, which enhances relaxation and reduces fatigue. B vitamins are required for thousands of processes in the body. For example, Vitamins B1, B2 and B6 are all required in the process of making serotonin. A chemical in our digestive tracts and brains which helps increase our mood.  

Herbs:
Among the copious herbs that are scientifically proven to reduce stress, there is Rhodiola. This can be found in a number of forms including teas, infusions, capsules and extracts. The herb itself can be a remedy for anxiety, and fatigue.. Rhodiola is an adaptogen. This means that it helps our bodies adapt to external stressors.  There are a number of other herbs which are also adaptogens such as Ashwaganda, Astragalus and Ginseng to name a few.

Exercise:
Exercise is a gateway to endorphins, which make us feel energized and then swing back to encourage relaxation. Don’t overthink it – yoga, running, hitting the gym, throwing a ball around or getting yourself in motion; exercise is the way to let go of stress and focus on the moment. Endorphins will chemically improve your mood, encouraging positivity, as well as how you look and feel. If you’re feeling exhausted and stress has gotten the better of you than intense exercise can make it worse, instead, opt for long slow exercise such as going for a hike.

Diet and lifestyle:
Junk food and sugar-infused treats are OK in moderation, but when they become a staple in our diet they can go so far as to cause depression. Eating a balanced array of foods supplies us with energy, which is the fuel our bodies use to dispel stress once the urgency has passed. All of your body’s natural responses are fueled by your diet, so give it the tools it needs to keep things in check!

Not so bad, right? Getting yourself in motion, putting the right fuel into your body, and supplementing with the right herbs and vitamins are a few small steps that will yield positive results. And remember this: lists of recommendations can go a long way, but there’s nothing wrong with some good old-fashioned ‘me time’. Seek out your favourite source of relaxation and commit time to it each week.

Want to know more about managing stress and leveraging it as an asset? Contact us to set up an appointment, read more about our infusion services, dispensary, and on-staff nutritionists, or book now. We look forward to seeing you soon!

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