In today’s world it seems like everyone is dealing with stress and anxiety, because a lot of us actually are! But what is the difference between the two? Basically, stress is a feeling of tension that occurs in response to an external situation, which helps us to stay energised, focused and alert in challenging situations. It keeps us on our toes during a job interview, sharpens our concentration on the sports field, and drives us to study for an exam. Anxiety, on the other hand, is an internal reaction (such as worrying or nervousness) triggered by stress, and can persist after the stressor is gone.
Bodily reactions to stress and anxiety
People experiencing stress and anxiety have various mental and physical symptoms, such as insomnia, difficulty concentrating, irritability, fatigue, and digestive troubles. When stress and anxiety become chronic, these symptoms can lead to weight gain and high blood pressure, and personality changes too. So, it pays to learn how to manage stress and anxiety so it doesn’t end up taking a toll on your quality of life.
When you are facing a stressful situation, it can help to use a coping strategy to help to keep tension and worry at bay. Some ways to maintain your physical, mental and emotional balance include:
- Regular exercise
- Talking to a friend
- Scheduling relaxation and self-care into your routine
- Eating a balanced, healthy diet
The following supplements, plant-based remedies and calming teas can also help you to cope with stress and lessen anxiety:
B complex vitamins
High doses of B vitamins have been shown to alleviate symptoms of stress, by lowering blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine in the body can increase the risk of several conditions, including arterial damage and blood clots, heart disease, and dementia.
This 12-week study of 60 people with work-related stress, found that those taking one of two forms of a vitamin B complex supplement had less work-related stress symptoms, including depression, anger, and fatigue, compared with those in the placebo group.
A tropical shrub that is native to the tropical islands of the South Pacific, Kava has been shown to relieve anxiety. Kava contains active compounds which may inhibit the breakdown of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that decreases the activity of your nervous system.
These fantastic fungi can help with brain function, relieving anxiety, and fighting fatigue. In a study done in Japan, women with a variety of health complaints ate biscuits that contained Lion’s Mane extract, or a placebo, for 4 weeks. The women who ate the extract described lower levels of depression, irritation and anxiety than those in the placebo group.
And while the Reishi mushroom is best known for its ability to boost the immune system, it may also help to improve anxiety, fatigue and depression. This double-blind clinical trial studied its effects in 132 people with neurasthenia, a condition that is associated with irritability, fatigue, headaches and dizziness. The researchers found that patient’s fatigue was reduced and general well-being improved after taking the supplements for 8 weeks.
Another study of 48 breast cancer survivors found that the patients experienced less anxiety, depression and fatigue after 4 weeks of taking reishi powder.
Drinking herbal teas are a great way to soothe your nerves (who doesn’t find a mug of warm tea comforting?). Not only can they help to keep you hydrated, some of them can help you to relax and help you to get a good night’s sleep.
The menthol in peppermint tea is a natural muscle relaxant which is great for easing tension when you're feeling anxious or stressed. Another soothing tea to have before bedtime, is chamomile. It contains the antioxidant apigenin, which binds to certain receptors in the brain that may promote sleepiness and reduce insomnia. There is also evidence that chamomile may reduce the severity of anxiety.
Remember how Kava has a positive effect on GABA? Well, valerian tea is also thought to help GABA, by slightly increasing its levels which in turn can relieve the symptoms of anxiety and stress. It also has sleep-enhancing properties.
Because our body works hard to maintain its natural pH balance, it’s important to eat alkaline foods to balance the acid-forming foods—such as meat, dairy, refined sugar and caffeine—in our diets. Alkaline foods not only reduce physical stress, they are also anti-inflammatory, so may help to give the body a chance to regenerate and repair tissue. Plus, a diet that includes plenty of nutrients can enable your body to cope well with stress and pressure.
People who are time-poor don’t always find it possible to eat well. If this sounds like you, consider including a smoothie in your daily routine. Tasty and convenient, smoothies are a fantastic way to pack in all the nutrient-rich goodies that our bodies crave. If fresh greens aren’t your thing, add a dose of Morlife’s Alkalising Greens, which not only contain vitamin and mineral rich greens but also fruits, functional herbs, superfoods, and amino acids. The great part; they come in three delicious flavours; Acai Raspberry, Lemon Lime and Pineapple Coconut.