Is Stress Deterring You From Health?
Stress is now a common fixture in our hectic, busy lives. Small
amounts of stress that are easily resolved can be beneficial in
motivating and helping us achieve our goals. Although chronic
or long-term stress affects each of us differently, it ultimately
affects the whole body in a negative way and may contribute
to many health complaints.
Is your health being affected by stress? Do you often feel
anxious, worried, depressed, irritable, exhausted, overloaded
or forgetful? Do you suffer from stiff or sore muscles or joints,
tension headaches, high blood pressure, frequent colds or
the flu? Or do you have irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, an
increase or loss of appetite, or worsening of an existing illness
or condition? If you answered “yes” to one or more of these
questions, your body may be overburdened by stress.
Fight or Flight: Your Response to Stress
Thousands of years ago, we may have been faced with the
threat of a sabre tooth tiger and our immediate response to
this was one of two reactions: to attack or run away. This is now
known as the fight or flight response. Once this stress response
is triggered, chemical messengers called adrenaline, cortisol
and noradrenaline are produced by the adrenal glands and
brain. These messengers increase blood flow to the essential
organs such as the heart, lungs, brain and muscles to help
us fight or run away. Digestive function slows down as this is
less important in survival mode. Cortisol also increases the
amount of sugar released into the blood to provide energy
for our muscles to attack or run. In the past, stress was short-
lived and once the stress was over, these chemical messengers
shortly returned to normal.
Where’s the Oﬀ Switch?
Over time our bodies have not changed this biological
response to stress. Although the sabre tooth tigers are long
gone, the physical threat to our lives and limbs has been
replaced with the modern day stress of long work hours,
financial worries, traffic jams and family issues. So what
happens if this stress response does not turn off because of
our non-stop busy lifestyles?
Ongoing stress that does not resolve may result in chronic
stress, which can be the underlying cause of many health
conditions. Chronic stress can impact body systems such as the
cardiovascular system by contributing to high blood pressure.
It can also take its toll on your nervous system leading to
exhaustion, headaches and insomnia. Your digestive and
immune systems can also be weakened by stress, making you
more susceptible to irritable bowel syndrome, frequent colds
and the flu.
Herbs and Nutrients for De-stressing
Go from ‘dis-stressed’ to ‘de-stressed’ with the help of herbs
• Rhodiola and withania are herbs which enhance the body’s
response to stress. Rhodiola has been shown to reduce both
physical and mental fatigue during times of stress.
• The herbs, passionflower, zizyphus and magnolia have
been traditionally used for reducing stress, anxiety and
• St John’s wort is well-known for supporting healthy mood and
protecting against the effects of stress.
• Magnesium, glutamine and B vitamins are used in abundance
during times of stress, when the body’s requirement for these
key nutrients is increased. Magnesium assists in muscle
relaxation and calms the nervous system.
5 Top Stress Busting Tips:
Lessen your stress load by practising the following stress
1. Rest and Relaxation: Relaxation techniques such as tai chi,
yoga, and meditation can help you to control stress and
improve physical and mental wellbeing.
2. Think Positive: A good attitude and positive outlook is
fundamental for de-stressing. Thinking positively will help you
get through a stressful period with greater enthusiasm and
3. Exercise: Exercise is a brilliant form of stress relief, as it
conditions the body and mind, and encourages the release
of endorphins, which help you feel good.
4. Indulge Yourself: Enjoy a well-deserved massage or some
other blissful treatment – perhaps soak in a bath with relaxing
aromatherapy oils such as lavender, ylang ylang, chamomile
5. Eat Healthy Foods: For a healthy mind and body, eat a diet
abundant in fresh, brightly coloured fruits and vegetables.
Consume protein with meals and snacks, and enjoy foods
high in essential fatty acids such as oily fish, nuts and seeds.
Minimise your intake of caffeine, energy drinks, sugar, alcohol
and processed foods as these will contribute to fatigue in the
Stress Less for Good Health and Wellness
Although the stress of modern life is inescapable, it is important
to remember that we can easily manage our response to stress
with the help of dietary and lifestyle changes and some key
natural medicines. Supporting a healthy stress response will
allow you to feel more energised, resilient and ready to tackle
life, so you can maintain the state of health and wellness that