We all probably feel the effects of stress, sometimes not even realizing that ailments such as sleep problems, constant fatigue or irritability, headaches or backaches, and even physiological disorders, have such a basis. What is worse, over time they can cause serious disorders in the functioning of the body. How to overcome stress? Actions such as changing eating habits, relaxation techniques and exercises, using herbs and dietary supplements can help.
Table of contents
- 1 Causes of appearance and duration of stress
- 2 Negative effects of long-term exposure to stressful stimuli
- 3 How to overcome stress without reaching for strong drugs?
- 4 Step one: Healthy, well balanced diet
- 5 Step Two: Get a good night’s sleep, calm your emotions in the evening
- 6 Step Three: Relaxation Techniques for Coping with Stress
- 7 Step Four: Herbs for stress, relaxation and soothing the nerves
- 8 Step Five: Stress Relief Supplements
- 9 A valuable note to conclude…
Causes of appearance and duration of stress
We speak of stress when the balance between our abilities and the demands of the situation is disturbed, and we are then dealing with the body’s attempt to adapt its response to stressful stimuli. This type of reaction is an inborn, atavistic mechanism, and is accompanied by certain physiological phenomena. It is accompanied by certain physiological phenomena, such as increased heart rate and respiration, increased muscle tension, increased blood pressure, accelerated metabolism, increased physical strength, and decreased sensitivity to pain. It is not difficult to imagine the negative effects of prolonged tension and the inability to relieve it.
Nervous tension accompanies modern man almost constantly. Thanks to the development of civilization we live more and more comfortably, but we also pay a considerable price for progress. Incessant rush, rivalry, excess of duties, feeling of being lost and lonely are more and more often our share and become factors releasing negative emotions. On top of that there are inevitable tragedies and personal problems – death of a close person, separation or divorce, problems with children, illnesses, problems at work.
All this makes us cope with everyday life in a worse way and more and more often we reach for the seemingly easiest solutions in the form of strong pharmaceuticals. Meanwhile, it is worth trying other methods, less harmful for the body.
Negative effects of long-term exposure to stressful stimuli
As much as short-term stress can be mobilizing, the state of tension, which is maintained for a long time, contributes to negative health effects. Under no circumstances should we ignore even the first worrying signs, which can be very varied and individual: upset stomach or palpitations, insomnia or irritability, lack of appetite or excessive craving, mood deterioration or apathy, chronic headaches or hypertension.
In the long term, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, chronic digestive disorders, osteoporosis, nagging headaches, skin and hair problems can occur.
The level of stress has a huge impact on the functioning of the immune system. It is weakened by increased production of cortisol, as happens in stressful situations. Hence the more frequent incidence of various infections, and even, as confirmed by some studies, cancer. Chronic stress, associated with prolonged cortisol secretion, may exacerbate or trigger symptoms of the so-called autoimmune diseases, Hashimoto disease, Basedow’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, colitis and other conditions.
How to overcome stress without reaching for strong drugs?
Just as the symptoms of increased tension can vary, so can the ways of coping with stress. Psychologists point to three types of human behaviour in this kind of situation:
- confronting the problem,
- seeking support,
The last one is, unfortunately, the worst solution, because pretending in front of oneself and the environment that there is no problem does not solve anything, but only causes increasing complications and intensifies difficulties and tensions. As a result, it can lead to serious psycho-physical disorders.
Stressful situations cannot be avoided, but we can try to change our attitude and minimize the negative effects of life’s adversities. The level of stress, and therefore its harmfulness, is subjective and largely depends on individual psychological conditions. Above all, it is necessary to face the challenge, i.e. to answer the question why a given circumstance stresses us, and then to take actions aimed at minimising the negative effects.
It is worth remembering that no one, and therefore also us, are perfect and there may be situations that surpass us. This is especially important when we ask ourselves how to overcome stress at work. Positive thinking and self-acceptance, seeking support, proper diet and sleep hygiene, relaxation techniques, and finally herbs and supplements, will allow us to better endure the hardships of life.
Check also: How to fall asleep quickly and get a good night’s rest while sleeping?
Step one: Healthy, well balanced diet
Proper metabolism is a fundamental condition for the health of the whole organism and well-being, and its basis is a proper diet, including complete, balanced meals, providing appropriate amounts of all needed nutrients. If we care about maintaining emotional balance, we must also make sure that the menu includes products rich in the following components:
- Magnesium – is of great importance for the functioning of the nervous system, the quality of mental functions and emotions, and under the influence of stress its level decreases. Magnesium can be found in buckwheat groats and oatmeal, spinach and legumes, bananas, dark chocolate, seeds, almonds and nuts.
- Potassium – next to magnesium,potassium is the most important element effective in the fight against stress. Main sources of potassium are tomatoes, peas, lentils, white beans, soybeans, dried fruits, beets, green parsley, spinach, dairy products, fish.
- Zinc – has also influence on the functioning of the nervous system and brain, strengthens immunity. Oysters contain the most zinc, but also liver, egg yolk, sprouts, seeds, nuts, linseed oil.
- Calcium – is necessary not only for proper bone development, but also for proper functioning of the nervous system and mental efficiency, and for sustaining energy. It can be found in milk and milk products, egg yolk, almonds and hazelnuts, legumes and cereal products, kale, broccoli, spinach, sardines and sprats in oil.
- Unsaturated fatty acids Omega 3 – essential for mental balance, found primarily in marine fish and seafood and vegetable oils and walnuts.
- B vitamins – play an important role in the context of the whole organism; they are also extremely important for the nervous system and mental functions. Nuts and seeds, beans, eggs, milk and milk products, liver, yeast, fish and spinach are rich sources.
- Tryptophan – an amino acid involved in the production of serotonin, called the hormone of happiness, and melatonin, responsible for good sleep. It is found in milk and dairy products, lean meat, fish, legumes, cocoa, bananas.
Learn more about the properties of tryptophan
Step Two: Get a good night’s sleep, calm your emotions in the evening
One of the symptoms of excessive nervous tension is sleep problems. This includes falling asleep, as well as the quality of your night’s rest. Nervousness, anxiety, the inability to calm down and soothe a multitude of thoughts mean that we cannot fall asleep, and when we do, we wake up for no reason in the middle of the night and relive the whole ordeal all over again. To avoid this, you should first of all take care of the right conditions for a good night’s sleep.
- Change the organization of the evening – at least half an hour before going to bed, we give up the computer, smartphone or TV. Better will be a short walk, a warm bath and a cheerful book.
- Music as relaxation – many people to calm down before bedtime, use recorded sounds of nature, such as rain, birds singing, chirping crickets. Gentle, quiet music can be just as effective.
- Proper sleep hygiene – the bedroom should be well ventilated, and if circumstances allow it, it is best to sleep with an open window. The room should be darkened as much as possible and cut off from any external stimuli.
Step Three: Relaxation Techniques for Coping with Stress
Above all, we must not allow stress to accumulate. Since both the level of tension we feel and the possibilities of relieving it are very individual, we must choose the ways that suit us best. Some people relax with a good book, others with music, others with computer games.
There are people who feel relief by confiding in their loved ones. Those who can’t open up in such a way, can try an old method, tried and recommended by psychologists, namely writing down their problems on a piece of paper. In this way, we reduce tension, what’s more, written down problems seem to be easier to solve.
Systematic physical activity brings good results, because it helps to relieve emotions and improve mood, and by reducing muscle tension and providing additional portion of oxygen, it has a positive effect on the whole body. Fitness, jogging, visits to a swimming pool or a gym, dynamic walks, bike rides or other forms of activity will have an extremely beneficial effect on our nervous system, psyche and mood.
It is worth adding that as a result of prolonged physical effort (lasting at least 20-30 minutes) large amounts of endorphins are produced in our body. These are hormones responsible for a great mood, a sense of happiness, joy, inner ease and satisfaction with oneself. That is why for some people regular training becomes a basic remedy for deteriorated mental condition, stress, nervous tension, depressive states or emotional problems.
Meditation or relaxing breathing exercises can also help in regaining mental balance. Here is an example of a simple relaxation exercise:
Lie down or sit comfortably putting your hands behind your head. Bend your elbows, straighten your legs, including your fingertips, and tense your muscles. Take in air, then tighten your belly and hold your breath for a few seconds. Slowly let the air out while relaxing all the muscles and getting into the relaxation. Now stretch as far as you can while repeating to yourself: I am calm, relaxed, and energized.
Step Four: Herbs for stress, relaxation and soothing the nerves
It is well known today that some plants have a beneficial effect on a number of vital functions of the body. Among them there are those that support metabolism, others that support heart function, others that cure skin lesions, rheumatism, internal organs. Finally, there are herbs which have a calming effect, soothe irritation and anxiety and make it easier to fall asleep.
Mildly acting herbal infusions (some of them can be used as bath additives) do not overload the body like strong pharmaceuticals, and certainly help in the fight against stress. You can also combine them by making effective blends of natural, non-drugging and non-addictive ingredients.
Read also: Best herbs for stress
Step Five: Stress Relief Supplements
Plants categorized as adaptogens play an important role in rebalancing the body during a stressful situation. Therefore, if you decide to take a supplement, it’s a good idea to first reach for plant-based adaptogens.
What are adaptogens? They are plants which restore balance and stability to the functioning of all vital organs and systems, thus exerting a comprehensive effect on the health of the entire body. Adaptogens strengthen the immune system and increase the body’s ability to adapt to conditions, making it better able to cope with the symptoms of stress.
There is a whole group of plants equipped with such valuable properties, led by the famous ginseng and vitania sluggard, or ashwagandha. They also include small-leaved bacopa, Gotu kola, Chinese citronella, Maca root, green tea, mountain rhododendron. These and other valuable substances (including magnesium and B vitamins) are contained in a recently popular dietary supplement in capsules called Brain Actives. It is a multicomponent, high quality preparation, which improves our mental condition in several ways, among others it increases resistance to stress, relieves nervous tension, improves mood, regulates mood, activates brain functions, increases mental efficiency.
Learn more about the amazing plant adaptogens
A valuable note to conclude…
How we deal with stress is influenced by many factors, both those of our psyche and those of our body. Only a comprehensive action can ensure victory in the fight against probably the worst affliction of modern life – a permanent, and therefore extremely dangerous state of nervous tension. It requires from us some discipline and a change of specific life habits, but in the long run it is definitely worth it.
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