Spring is right around the corner, and with spring comes a natural renewed feeling of happiness. Spring is a time for earth rejuvenation, and our bodies are inherently part of this earth. The weather is nicer, the sun is out, the birds are chirping, and the humans are singing. Especially after a crappy long slushy dark winter! I have every confidence that everyone will start the spring with a lighter step. For those that need an extra boost, here are my top tips and suggestions for stress-relieving products 🙂
From this picture of my collection, it appears I am a very stressed-out person haha. I don’t feel I am, but it sure is comforting to know that if I do feel overwhelmed, I have these products to help me.
“Stress” means many different things to each person but to generalize, it is a state where you might feel unhappy, pushed beyond your limits, or overwhelmed by your environment or what is expected of you. Stress is also a feeling of danger – whether it be real danger (a bear about to attack you) or perceived danger (being late for an interview). Wanna know something cool? Your body actually cannot tell the difference between real life-threatening danger and perceived danger, so it reacts the same way regardless of what’s happening. I think this is really neat – an evolutionary marvel that has stayed with us.
Stress and your Adrenal Glands
Your adrenal glands are 2 little blobs that sit on top of your kidneys….they kind of look like fabulous kidney hats. Anyway, these glands are responsible for dishing out hormones to respond to any and ALL types of body stress (even stress from injury). They produce hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. When you are in danger or perceive a threat (remember, real or imaginary makes no difference!) your adrenals secrete adrenaline. Adrenaline makes your eyes wider, pupils dilate, heart beat faster, muscles tense, sugar surge through your blood, and basically prepares you to run away or fight something.
But if you don’t need to fight or run away, what happens? Your body will eventually go back to “normal” but keep in mind – this cascade reaction happens at some level every time you feel stressed. Someone leading a stressful life might eventually find that their adrenal glands are just exhausted from keeping up. “Adrenal fatigue” or “adrenal exhaustion” can manifest in symptoms such as day-long fatigue, tiredness, inability to cope with situations, irritability, mental and physical exhaustion, weight gain, moodiness, and getting sick often.
What to do?
Support those kidney hats! Here are the greatest noourishers:
Vitamin C and B vitamins – in times of stress, your body uses up vitamin C and B-vitamins super quick. Add some back in with a good quality B-complex (specifically vitamin B5 is amazing for stress) and vitamin C sources like acai berry powder, camu berries, citrus or Ester-C.
Adaptogens – these are botanical herbs that help your body adapt to stress. They can be very effective and nourishing. Some great adaptogens are:
ashwaghanda, rhodiola, Siberian Ginseng (also called ‘eleuthero’), green oat, licorice, schizandra berries and holy basil.
Glandular – this is more for significantly adrenal-exhausted people, and contains actual pieces of adrenal tissue from animals, usually porcine. The brand AOR has one called Ortho-Adapt that is incredibly effective – it also contains adaptogens, vitamin B5 and vitamin C. For those of you weirded out by animal tissue – don’t worry – they carry a vegan option too!
Homeopathics and flower essences – Bach Flower Remedies has something called Rescue Remedy – a mixture of 5 flower essences that gently calm and focus the mind. These are safe for everyone, even pets and children. Just put a few drops under your tongue or in your water bottle. (For those who don’t believe in homeopathics or flower essences, give this to your pet and see what happens. My sister gives rescue remedy to her cat during long drives and the thing basically falls asleep purring!)
Mushrooms – mushrooms naturally support the nervous system and help our adrenals adapt to stress. Mushrooms such as Reishi and Cordyceps have been used for ages to help humans handle stress more effectively.
Magnesium is a great, safe mineral that can help calm you down, calm sore muscles, and help with sleep. Try about 200mg of elemental magnesium a day and see how you feel. Also, if you’re stressed out all the time, you may start to see a decline in your digestive functioning (more foods may start to irritate you than before). This is because in a state of constant stress, digestion is the last concern for your body (who needs to digest a burrito when you are running from a bear?). If this sounds like you, try some of the following things to help get your digestion back on track: digestive enzymes, peppermint or ginger tea, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar before meals, chewing slowly, and not drinking with meals.
Here’s to a happy stress-free spring 🙂