Stress can be tough on both your body and your spirit. Continuous unmanaged stress can go hand in hand with all kinds of health issues.
This can include blood pressure problems, heart disease, diabetes, tiredness, headaches, muscle pain, anxiety, tooth grinding, and feelings of overwhelm.
Another hurdle is that when you’re stressed, your behavior may shift to less healthy habits. You may find yourself eating too much or too little, abusing alcohol, snapping at loved ones, and withdrawing from your friends as you try to find a way to get a handle on your stressors.
Stress And Your Adrenal Glands
All of these issues combined can put you at risk for a decline in health. This is especially true when it comes to your adrenal glands, which can be particularly strained by stress.
What are the adrenal glands?
Your adrenals glands are the two triangle-shaped glands above your kidneys. These glands are about three inches, and creating important hormones like cortisol, adrenal, norepinephrine, and aldosterone. They’re made up of two sections—the adrenal medulla and the adrenal cortex—and each section produces different hormones. The adrenals help to manage your metabolism, inflammation reduction, and the body’s famous “fight or flight” stress response. They also contribute to other physical processes like electrolyte balance, blood sugar, blood pressure, and your immune system.
When adrenal glands function properly, they help your body thrive, but when they hit a snag, your health can suffer quite a bit. Depending on your specific situation, issues with the adrenal glands can be caused by genetics, tumors, infections, and, of course, stress.
What is adrenal fatigue?
The adrenal problem most commonly associated with stress is adrenal fatigue. It’s believed to occur when you experience intense amounts of stress over a long period time. Since your adrenals produce cortisol and adrenaline, prolonged stress can exhaust your adrenals and lead to a dip in cortisol. The term was first introduced in the ‘90s by a chiropractor named James Wilson, and concern about it has grown since then.
Adrenal fatigue tends to be closely related with burnout. It often turns up when you’re stressed, overworked, overtired, or anxious for long stretches of time. It could be triggered by busy chapters of your life like a difficult job, new parenthood, or a difficult university program.
What are the symptoms of adrenal fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is accompanied by symptoms that are commonly associated with other health issues, so it can be tough at first to pin down what you’re suffering from. Below are a few symptoms to look out for when considering whether you might have adrenal fatigue:
-Changes in Weight or Eating Habits
-Increased Levels of Cortisol
-Changes In Blood Pressure
Of course, these symptoms are also associated with several other stress-related health issues. They could indicate any number of stress issues, including serious heart problems, so be sure to consult with your doctor if the symptoms are interfering with your daily routine.
Natural Stress & Anxiety Remedies to Try
All that said, there are also plenty of ways to potentially help curb these symptoms, as well as to ease the stress on your adrenals before adrenal fatigue has the chance to set in. (Of course, consult a doctor if you have any concerns or before starting a new supplement.) Below are several remedies that can help you kick stress to the curb.
Exercise has been associated with so many indicators of great health that it’s sometimes hard to keep track. Fortunately, one of exercise’s many benefits is stress reduction. Physical activity like cardio helps your body release endorphins (the “feel-good hormone”.) Working out either in a group or alone provides great benefits to your mind as well—you’ll either have a chance to socialize and bond with a workout buddy or to peacefully process your thoughts while benefitting your body.
Many people feel inclined to manage stress with sedentary activities, like surfing the web or watching TV. Those activities certainly feel good at first, but all in all, they could actually contribute to increasing overall stress and unhealthiness. A bit of exercise is usually a much more positive move in the long run.
2. Valerian Root
This herb has been a popular stress remedy for many, many years. It can help to ease anxiety, help you sleep, and calm feelings of stress. Valerian root is considered a sedative (and with good reason), so it’s definitely something you’ll want to try in the evening or on a day off, not before starting a jam-packed busy day.
You can drink valerian root in tea form, but most people are not a fan of the smell and taste, so you can also opt for a pill or capsule form of the herb. It can also be available as a tincture.
3. L-Theanine and Green Tea
Most of us know that green tea has all kinds of health benefits, from boosting the immune system to reducing inflammation to managing a healthy weight. When it comes to stress, green tea has yet another perk: L-theanine. This amino acid in green tea helps boost the health and function of your brain while creating a sense of calm.
Research has found that L-theanine could aid in managing an increased heart rate or blood pressure. It’s also been found to potentially reduce anxiety symptoms, particularly before a stressful situation like an exam.
This wonder nutrient is a powerful mineral for your overall health. When it comes to stress, magnesium can help calm your nerves and aid in falling asleep on nights when your head just won’t hit the pillow. When your body is short on magnesium, you may experience tiredness, cramps, feelings of weakness, and—perhaps not surprisingly—anxiety and difficulty sleeping. In fact, if you’re experiencing heightened anxiety and can’t pinpoint the reason, you might want to start by considering whether you’re getting enough magnesium.
You’ll find magnesium in seeds, legumes, nuts, oats, quinoa, avocados, leafy greens, and other nutrient-rich foods. Magnesium is also available in supplement form, which you’ll want to consider if you’re having a tough time getting the suggested daily magnesium intake. (Many people struggle with this—a large amount of the population in deficient in magnesium.)
5. Kava Root
Kava is extremely powerful in relieving stress and anxiety symptoms. If your mind races with anxious thoughts during times of stress, kava might be exactly what you need to help calm down. It can aid with trouble sleeping, anxiety-induced muscle tension, and any overall sense of restlessness. Most people take kava as a capsule. You can also take it in liquid form, but it doesn’t taste so awesome, so you may prefer a capsule. (Be sure to take extra care to inform your doctor before trying kava root, as it’s been associated with liver disease and some adverse side effects.)
As most of us know, lavender smells amazing—but it also offers all kinds of mood-related perks. Lavender can help ease your stress, especially when you’re trying to unwind at the end of the day. It can also put you at ease if you’re experiencing heightened anxiety. You can diffuse lavender essential oil for an instant sense of calm. Some parts of the world even have lavender pills on the market, and their effectiveness is sometimes compared to strong pharmaceutical anxiety medications.
7. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s are great for heart health and your immune system, but they’re also great for stress relief, especially when you consume them regularly. (Oh, and if that weren’t fantastic enough, they may also help ease depression symptoms.) Salmon, flaxseed oil, walnuts, spinach, and other foods are excellent sources of fatty acids if you’re not sure where to start.
This famously relaxing herb can work wonders during times of great stress. Many people drink it in tea form before bed to help relax their bodies and minds. Chamomile can help ease anxiety, insomnia, headaches, and tense muscles while aiding in digestions. When you drink chamomile tea, you can expect to feel calm and ready for a nap. It also has fantastic anti-inflammatory properties, which helps your body fight off joint pain, soreness, redness, and other inflammation-related issues.
Take Stress Relief One Step At A Time
The most important thing to remember when aiming to reduce stress is to take things one day at a time. The last thing you want is to become stressed about your stress issues. Try the remedies that most resonate with you, go easy on yourself, and give it some time—your adrenals will thank you.