If I asked you to describe the symptoms of stress, I’m sure you can name a bunch of things like racing thoughts, feelings of overwhelm and frustration and a sense of rushing through your day, as if there is never enough time.
These are all mental manifestations of stress, but stress is not just a mental phenomenon, it’s a physical one too. (Hello, nervous toilet-run!). Other symptoms you may or may not realise can be caused by stress are things like rashes, heart palpitations, digestive issues, fertility problems, auto-immune conditions, frequent infections and low energy.
Rising stress-levels are to be taken seriously, as they can have a profound impact on health and well-being, and if left unchecked, can result in burnout, or what naturopaths often refer to as “adrenal fatigue”.
GIVE YOUR ADRENAL GLANDS A BREAK!
Are you pushing yourself too hard? Are you taxing your adrenals with over-stimulating foods and drinks?
If so, kick the coffee, alcohol, sleeping tablets, cigarettes, energy drinks, sugar (which includes high GI foods such as white flour, white rice, potatoes, honey and concentrated fruit juice) to the curb, right now. Also, avoid supplements like guarana and mega-potency B vitamins.
For natural stress relief, herbs in the sedative nervine category are ideal, especially:
For burnout and severe, chronic, stress; adaptogenic herbs to support the adrenal glands are very helpful and should be taken for at least 3 months, such as:
- Siberian ginseng
If your immune system has become compromised, try:
- Shiitake and Reishi mushrooms
If sleep has become a problem, try sedative and hypnotic herbs such as
- California poppy
Note: always check with your healthcare professional if herbs are suitable for you especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking prescribed medications.
TOP UP YOUR MAGNESIUM LEVELS
Many people suffering from stress have a deficiency in the mineral magnesium, which simply exacerbates symptoms!
Surefire signs of this are irritability, muscle cramps, tremors, restless legs and twitchy eyelids.
Magnesium repairs the protective coating around your nerves, rather like re-insulating a live wire, so getting your levels back to normal will help you to feel so much better able to cope with life. Easily absorbed forms are magnesium orotate, magnesium amino acid chelate and magnesium citrate. Stay away from magnesium oxide, it is not readily absorbed. Also, powders and liquids are assimilated better than tablets.
B VITAMINS FOR NERVE AND ENERGY SUPPORT
While I never recommend mega-dose B vitamin supplements, moderate strength B vitamins can be very beneficial in giving you the extra energy you require without taxing your adrenals glands. So invest in a good B-complex or multivitamin and read the label. Go with a sensible dose of 10 to 20mg (with the exception of some B vitamins such as B12 which is listed in micrograms as you only need tiny amounts).
REST AND SELF-CARE
All those lifestyles and behavioral activities that we know are good for us, often get thrown out the window when we are busy and stressed. But the fact is, if you want to be well again, you need to make these things a real priority.
If your sleep is out of whack, get it back on track. Use your weekends to really unwind and participate in hobbies you enjoy and to spend time with supportive, uplifting people. Exercise regularly and try a simple yoga and meditation practice. If you can, schedule a retreat into your vacation time, once or twice a year.
You may also need to do some soul-searching and take an honest look at how and why you got into this position in the first place. Try journaling about the following questions: Is this the lifestyle I really want? Am I forcing myself to live up to some unattainable ideal of perfection or achievement? What activities can I get off my plate? Who and what do I need to start saying no to? Where is my life out of balance? What and who have I been making a priority, above my own wellbeing?
GIVE YOURSELF TIME
Correcting nutritional deficiencies, making lifestyle changes and taking herbal medicines, all take time to work. Unlike orthodox drugs that produce almost immediate effects,(but often result in nasty side-effects and addiction), herbs and nutrients work more slowly by restoring healthy organ function. So give yourself at least 3 months to allow your adrenal glands to heal. Some people may need longer if they have had many years of stressful living. But rest assured, you can overcome stress and burnout, naturally – if you choose it