NKOSI SIKELEL' IAFRIKA
Kicking Stress To The Curb
90% of illnesses (and injuries) known to us are in one way or the other connected to stress.
It is a modern-day epidemic. Whether the stress is a constant, nagging pain in the gut or a barely-there feeling, it wrecks your body. For some, it’s fistfuls of hair falling out; for others, it’s the entire immune system going haywire.
For the professional millennial, the consequences of an overloaded brain are worse because they face a level of stress higher than usual. That said, there is a ray of hope. Stress needn’t hold you back. With the correct arsenal of supplements and hacks, even the most high-strung work week can end productively and prepared for any curveball!
Hey Stress, Meet Body…
High levels of stress impact day-to-day life, not just mentally but physically too. Add to it the shooting levels of cortisol in the body (again, blame stress) and the repercussions are terrible. So, what truly happens when stress meets the body?
The Fight or Flight-Stage
The fight or flight stage triggers when the body is alarmed. Most recognize it as the ‘heart beating out of the chest’ when you slam the brakes to avoid an accident. Others feel it when there is a conflict like with a work colleague.
You know that tingling in the fingertips and jumping of the belly? It is the body releasing a burst of stress hormones - cortisol, adrenalin, and epinephrine, among others – which engages the flight or fight response. At this point, two things occur:
- Suppression of organs.
- Preparation of all energy resources to counteract the reason for the stress.
As long as the stress is short-lived, your body recovers, speedily, from both. But when the tension is chronic or recurrent, a constant state of exhaustion is created.
More than mere exhaustion…
Just exhaustion? You can live with that. After all, a good night’s sleep could cure it in a jiffy, right? Well, not so much. Stress, especially pressure that endures relentlessly, can do much worse.
- Mental stress ages us at a cellular level too. There is a direct correlation between “psychological distress, eating behaviour, and metabolic health.” When one improves, so do the others.
Chronic stress can cause some types of cancer. When the body is under lingering pressure and the mind is depressed, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (or what is known as our central stress response system) is continuously activated. This persistent on-off “impairs the immune system and contributes to the development and progression of some types of cancer.”
Stress or even mild distress causes so many psychiatric illnesses that a new field was established, called neuroimmunomodulation or psychoneuroimmunology, to investigate the mind-body connection!
Ten volunteers, healthy humans at that, were exposed to 100 dB noise (imagine a power lawnmower or a jet taking off) for two separate days. At the end of the experiment, each volunteer reported tension, anxiety, stress, depression, and unhappiness.
This was just one trial; many studies prove how daily stress can influence our mental and physical health, adversely. The question is how to manage your stress to perform better in life?
Tips On Managing Stress To Get More Out Of Life
The most potent tool for stress management is supplements like nootropics. When you face stress day in and day out, they help you adapt.
1. Ashwagandha Extract
You will not find a more powerful method of kicking stress out of life. The Ayurvedic herb has a huge list of advantages for the mind and body, with relief from stress topping it. Ashwagandha manages stress, anxiety, and tension because it calms you.
Here’s how it works…
Remember the HPA axis we spoke about earlier? The central stress response system? When the HPA axis is wonky, i.e., the trio of glands is not in sync, the stress-response becomes trigger-happy. Ashwagandha works on it by ensuring that the three glands, hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal, communicate with each other, effectively.
A nootropic that expressly assists in high-stress conditions, think of Phenibut as a natural reliever of anxiety. It creates a peaceful state of mind and clears away the tension, noise, and stress which hinder performance.
Another smart drug, this one doesn’t relieve stress but makes you more resilient to it by enhancing brain function. By increasing three neurotransmitters (dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine), NALT reinforces your ability to fight both physical and mental tension.
While nootropics do wonders to flush out stress, a few lifestyle changes never hurt anybody. Towards that end, give your mind a break by meditating, exercising, and just letting go. Let’s take a look at how they help…
When stress hormones run haywire, they cause sleeplessness, diseases, and depression. Mediation helps by reducing the amount of cortisol and keeping stress under the wraps.
Here’s how cortisol works…
A stressful day at workplace causes your adrenal glands to release cortisol (a known stress hormone produced faster than any other). Every time the levels of cortisol cross a threshold, they chip a little bit at your health. In other words, to be fit, keeping cortisol at the optimum level is vital.
2. Exercise It Out
Deep breathing exercises lessen the heart rate and balance blood pressure, which curtails stress. Even something simple like walking barefoot in the backyard can help relieve tension. The earthing effect combined with the light activity of walking eases pressures and aids in sleeping.
3. Let Go of Decisions
The persistent pressure to make decisions at work and at home saps the body of power. It causes fatigue, which makes focusing impossible and ultimately, seeds stress. Delegate work and automate life (like creating a capsule wardrobe for the office) to say adios to anxiety.
Navigate Stressful Waters Like A Pro
When the dial on stress is on a high it weaves a complex web of illnesses. In some people, it triggers issues like asthma, and in others, it increases the risk of diabetes. Thankfully, turning the knob down low only requires small steps and little efforts.
Stick to the hacks mentioned above and a hectic work schedule or last-minute deadline will never be stressful again!