Anxiety and stress are constant companions for many people living in the 21st century. In fact, millions around the world simply accept these uncomfortable and damaging emotions as inescapable parts of modern life.
Living in a constant anxiety state or with high stress levels is incredibly bad for the human nervous system. And it doesn’t have to be this way. It is, of course, normal to have times of stress and anxiety in times of danger or in response to life events, but it’s not normal to struggle with it every day. Thus, beat the stress and anxiety in very important.
Stress and anxiety evolved from our innate ‘fight or flight’ response that is programmed into our brains to help us survive danger. But it shouldn’t be active every day. This year, the global pandemic has increased the levels of stress for billions of people, as the impact of COVID-19 joins everyday concerns in our psyches.
COVID-19 is affecting mental health in countless ways. Whether you are concerned about contracting the virus, or keeping friends and family safe, money or childcare, schooling or falling into poverty, its impact is profound and likely to be long lasting. And stress causes major health problems all on its own.
From weakening your immune system to causing symptoms from migraines to heart problems, and insomnia to vertigo, the effects are wide-ranging. It is very easy to turn to unhealthy habits to try and deal with the symptoms of stress. This is why alcohol, cigarettes, sugar and drugs are chosen by many people as they try to deal with stress and anxiety. However, all of these habits only continue to perpetuate the cycle of stress and anxiety and do nothing to combat it in any real way.
But the good news is, there are plenty of things we can all do to beat our stress and anxiety levels. Exercising regularly, eating well, avoiding sugar, cigarettes, alcohol and caffeine and taking time to meditate and breathe well will all help. An extra step is to add vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements to your daily diet.
Magnesium is important to ensure your muscles and nerves function properly. There is much evidence to show that magnesium levels are particularly important to maintain healthy sleep. Stress and insomnia feed each other, and by sorting out your sleep schedule, you can significantly reduce levels of anxiety and stress. If insomnia is a problem for you, then trying a magnesium supplement is a good idea.
The Ashwagandha plant has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine. And scientists have found that one its properties is a great tool to fight stress. A study from 2017 shows that the group who took supplements with Ashwagandha reported a 44% reduction in their stress levels. The placebo group reported only a 5.5% drop in stress levels, which is a great recommendation for trying this supplement.
Valerian root helps to encourage high quality sleep, thanks to its general calming effect. Used for years to treat insomnia, anxiety and nerves since the 2nd century AD, valerian is available in many herbal supplements. Sleeping well is vital to keep stress levels controlled, so it’s worth trying if insomnia is a problem for you.
Rhodiola is also known as Golden Root and is found in the arctic areas of Asia and Europe. There are records showing it’s been used medicinally since around 77CE to increase energy levels and mood and to decrease stress. Its properties have been shown to deal specifically with fatigue and as this is a significant underlying cause of stress, a supplement containing it could help.
As we’ve discussed, stress and anxiety are often caused by low energy levels and general fatigue. One of the causes of fatigue is vitamin B deficiency. Adding a vitamin B complex to your daily diet can help boost your energy and lower your stress levels. It’s thought to be particularly useful for people who are suffering from depression and anxiety because they’re dealing with a challenging life event.
Bacopa Monnieri is a herb that can help reduce stress levels. Used for centuries to help memory issues, increase focus and improve general mood, Bacopa is used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. A 2011 study shows that Bacopa lengthens nerves in the brain, which is why it helps memory and focus. It also lowers cortisol levels, which significantly reduces stress.
Supplementing with vitamins and minerals helps to lower stress in combination with other lifestyle changes. Including supplements in your general lifestyle plan along with good diet and exercise can absolutely help you deal with anxiety and stress. Always check with your doctor or healthcare provider before you add any supplements into your diet, as some of them don’t mix well with specific prescription medication.