October 22, 2019 4 min read

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Most of us have controlling stress down pat- or at least that’s what we convince ourselves to believe. Short bursts of stress motivate us to do certain things throughout the day and can build new brains cells and make the brain more resilient to future stresses like applying tension onto our muscles at the gym to build them [1].

Believe it or not, an imbalance of stress can have a series of detrimental effects on the body and your overall performance [2-4]. In this blog, we will attempt to show you how you can have the perfect balance between stress and relaxation to do your best day by day.

Stress can put an unnecessary load on your body and mind. Being under significant amounts of stress can cause your body to deplete the adrenals glands and nervous system of vitamins, minerals and reduce efficiency of your mitochondria to create energy for your body and brain cells [5].

When your brain does not have a source of energy it triggers the release of cortisol (the stress hormone) to make emergency fuel which results in breaking down your muscles to obtain sugar reserves which spike insulin levels and what does that lead to? You guessed it, more cortisol equating to higher stress levels. No wonder it can be so hard to concentrate at work during a stressful day.

We cannot control external stress triggers, we can train our body to handle stress better through a healthy foundation of nutrition, movement, quality sleep. A positive attitude can help you build a lifestyle necessary to cultivate focus, memory, attention, and, in general, the ability to handle the stresses of modern life.

Here are some ways to control your stress

  1. Just Breathe –Performing a simple breathing exercise before bed will lower your cortisol levels and turn off your fight-or-flight response to help you sleep, and your mitochondria can detect this difference [6]. There are two simple breathing exercises that I find most helpful when going to sleep they are called a box breath and an ujjayi breath. You can do either or both each night during the next two weeks.
  2. Fuel for the Brain –Similar to a car engine, the brain performs better when given high quality sources of fuel. The brain works well on maximum hydration and with a good source of high-quality fats such as Omega-3’s, Omega-6’s and plenty of other saturated and unsaturated fats [7,8]. Avoid damaged oxidised fats which are found in overheated fats as well as in foods purchased from fast food stores. Examples of healthy fats for the brain:
    1. Grass Fed Animal Fat and Meat
    2. Pastured Egg yolks
    3. Olive oil
    4. Trout/Salmon
    5. Krill oil
  3. Go for a walk- It’s been shown that a 15-minute walk in nature can lower your cortisol levels by 12.4% [9]. The goal is to proactively respond to life’s stressors, as opposed to simply reacting. This capability is improved by making nature walks a regular habit.
  4. Balancing your Neurotransmitters – When you feel confident and capable of handling stress, thank your neurotransmitters. When you feel anxious, blame your neurotransmitters. By learning about the way your brain works allow you to better understand the reasons for your actions. Refer to blog below and take the quiz to find out which neurotransmitter you are most dominant. LINK TO NEUROTRANSMITTER BLOG + QUIZ
  5. Supplementation – If you have mastered all 4 steps above you are now fit to try an adaptogen herb which contain natural compounds which can help your body control its stress levels [10,11]. You can purchase Rhodiola Rosea from our store which has multiple clinical studies supporting stress and cortisol control. However, you may not need this if you have mastered the top 4 points and feel you are now fully in control!

Link to Rhodiola Rosea

References:

[1] Godoy, L., Rossignoli, M., Delfino-Pereira, P., Garcia-Cairasco, N. and de Lima Umeoka, E. (2018). A Comprehensive Overview on Stress Neurobiology: Basic Concepts and Clinical Implications. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 12.

[2] Arnsten AF. Stress signalling pathways that impair prefrontal cortex structure and function. Nature Reviews. Neuroscience. 2009;10(6):410-422

[3] Dickerson SS, Kemeny ME. Acute stressors and cortisol responses: A theoretical integration and synthesis of laboratory research. Psychological Bulletin. 2004;130(3):355-391

[4] Yerkes RM, Dodson JD. The relation of strength of stimulus to rapidity of habit-formation. Journal of Comparative Neurology and Psychology. 1908;18(5):459-482

[5] Picard, M. and McEwen, B. (2018). Psychological Stress and Mitochondria. PsychosomaticMedicine, 80(2), pp.141-153.

[6] Ma, X., Yue, Z., Gong, Z., Zhang, H., Duan, N., Shi, Y., Wei, G. and Li, Y. (2017). The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults. Frontiers in Psychology, 8.

[7] Gómez-Pinilla, F. (2008). Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(7), pp.568-578.

[8] Chianese, R., Coccurello, R., Viggiano, A., Scafuro, M., Fiore, M., Coppola, G., Operto, F., Fasano, S., Laye, S., Pierantoni, R. and Meccariello, R. (2018). Impact of Dietary Fats on Brain Functions. Current Neuropharmacology, 16(7), pp.1059-1085.

[9] Hunter, M., Gillespie, B. and Chen, S. (2019). Urban Nature Experiences Reduce Stress in the Context of Daily Life Based on Salivary Biomarkers. Frontiers in Psychology, 10.

[10] Liao, L., He, Y., Li, L., Meng, H., Dong, Y., Yi, F. and Xiao, P. (2018). A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide. Chinese Medicine, 13(1).

[11] Panossian, A. and Wikman, G. (2010). Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress—Protective Activity. Pharmaceuticals, 3(1), pp.188-224.

 


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