The effects of stress can be enormous and have both short-term and long-term consequences. Stress can affect eating habits and sleep cycles, and trigger depression, which can lead to a low metabolism and inactivity. Stress can also increase bad habits, like smoking and drinking, which tend to lead to more serious health problems, like cancer and heart disease. Stress hormones, such as cortisol, actually deplete vitamins B, C, A, and magnesium from the body, which are depleted during stress responses, such as muscle tension and increased blood pressure. In times of anxiety, we have a special need for B vitamins, which help maintain nerves and brain cells. If the calories consumed during times of stress do not come from nutritious food, the vitamins will be depleted even more quickly. Even a mild vitamin B deficiency from consuming empty calories like potato chips and soda for a few days can upset the nervous system and exacerbate stress, according to Elizabeth Somer, RD, a nutritionist from Oregon. In times of stress, try to consume bananas, fish, baked potatoes, avocados, chicken, and dark green leafy vegetables, which are excellent sources of vitamin B.

Vitamin B complex – B vitamins have been shown to directly affect neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Evidence suggests that B vitamins are important in the balance and metabolism of neurotoxic chemicals that have been linked to conditions related to anxiety and depression. The B vitamins support the adrenal glands and are depleted during the “fight or flight” response and when converting food into energy for the body. We like the high potency B complex capsules from natural factors.

Glutamine – the most abundant amino acid in muscle cells, it preserves muscle by reducing cortisol levels.

Insolitol – shown to possibly help reduce cortisol in people with mental illnesses such as anxiety and OCD.

L Thianine – an amino acid derivative commonly found in tea, theanine is able to cross the blood-brain barrier. Theanine has psychoactive properties and has been shown to reduce physical and mental stress. L-Theanine can help the body’s immune response to infections by increasing the ability of gamma delta T cells to fight disease.

Magnesium – It is found in cells and bones and is especially vital in protecting arteries from blood pressure caused by stress. Food sources include dark green foods, whole grains such as brown rice and whole wheat bread, garlic, lemons, avocados, chamomile, cantaloupe, black beans, seeds especially pumpkin seeds, and dark chocolate. When you’re chronically stressed, you can be magnesium deficient even if you eat these foods regularly.

When you’re stressed for any reason, your body’s hormonal response causes magnesium to leak from your cells into your blood. The higher the stress level, the greater the loss of magnesium. The lower your magnesium level initially, the more reactive you will be to stress (the higher your level of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol will be in stressful situations), causing a greater loss of magnesium from cells.

Soaking in an Epsom salt bath can help. The best dietary supplements are the acidic salts of magnesium such as magnesium chloride, citrate, gluconate, or glycinate. We like the natural factors of calcium and magnesium citrate plus D.

Omega-3 fatty acids – believed to have a calming effect on the central nervous system. We like Nordic Naturals DHA with strawberry flavor.

Phosphatidylserine (PS) – It is a cortisol blocker that introduces nutrients and removes toxins from cells. It can be helpful in preventing short-term memory loss, age-related dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Vitamin C – Prolonged stress depletes vitamin C in the adrenal glands and lowers blood levels. We recommend 1-2 grams 3 times a day with food. In January 2007, “Psychology Today” reported that vitamin C exerts a subtle cortisol-lowering effect in the human body. Vitamin C is water soluble, so there is little risk in taking large doses.

The following may be helpful in reducing cortisol levels:

Bedtime early – Try to be in bed before 10 at night, lack of sleep is a stressor that causes an excess of cortisol. Melatonin is a natural sleep aid that can be effective for jet lag and resetting your sleep cycle. Hypnosis can also be very effective in inducing sleep and a sense of well-being.

Eat frequently – Your cortisol levels rise after 5 hours without food and your body’s fight or flight response mechanism will detect “starvation” and go into storage mode when you eat. A good way to avoid excess fat storage is to eat small meals throughout the day.

Eat a breakfast that contains protein. – protein helps rebuild glycogen stores, which are necessary to fuel your brain. Your brain is particularly drained after sleeping.

Cut out sugar and processed foods. – eat lots of fruits and vegetables to make sure you have vitamins to increase your resistance to stress. Vitamin C, B1 and B2 are especially important, see below.

Eliminate caffeine completely – Caffeine directly stimulates stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. Caffeine is a diuretic; it depletes water and vitamins from the body, which contributes to bone loss. Caffeine can also interfere with the quality of your sleep.

Drinking water – dehydration induces a stress response that raises cortisol levels. Drink water before bed and when you wake up.

Minimize prolonged strenuous physical activity – After an hour of exercise, your body’s testosterone levels drop and cortisol begins to rise. Keep workouts under an hour and don’t train for more than 2 days in a row.

Practice relaxing activities like massage therapy, sex, and laughter.

Scientists began uncovering the mechanisms behind the mind-body link in the 1980s and early 1990s. According to a NY Times article, nerves were found connecting the brain to the spleen and thymus organs. used in immune responses, and it was established that nerve cells could affect the activity of white blood cells that fight infection. Today I don’t think the mind-body link can be discussed. Consider how good you feel physically and mentally after an hour of yoga, a run in the park, or a few days in the sun.

Here are other tips to help you increase your sense of well-being:

Fresh air – Give your mind and body a break from sitting and staring at your computer screen. Make an effort to get outside at least once during the workday.

Exercise – Low impact activities like walking or skating are enough to stimulate endorphins without inducing stress in the body.

Reduce your daily commute – Studies show higher cortisol levels in people with longer morning commutes. Using public transport instead of driving can reduce the stress of traffic jams. Other habits that can help make your trip more fun include carpooling, music, and choosing a slightly longer but less congested route.

Hypnosis and self-hypnosis – Stress hypnosis can be very effective in inducing a state of relaxation and can also be used as a natural way to induce sleep.

Deep breathing – a shallow or irregular breathing pattern caused by stress can upset the oxygen and carbon dioxide balance in the body. During a stressful period, you can help expel excess carbon dioxide by exhaling for 5 long seconds and then letting your lungs fill naturally (don’t consciously inhale). Do this for 5 breaths in a row with your mouth closed and you should feel a sense of calm. Regular deep breathing can prevent illness, as the more stale air you exhale, the more fresh air you can inhale, which penetrates deeper into the lungs and doesn’t give all little critters a humid, humid environment in which to multiply.

Surround yourself with love and positivity – You are who you surround yourself with. When it comes to friendships, choose quality over quantity and surround yourself with people who inspire you. The effects of drama and gossip can be a great source of stress for some.

Retrain your thinking patterns – this goes beyond trying to always see the positive side of things. The mind can exert a direct influence on the immune system. “The brain has the ability to modulate peripheral physiology,” says Dr. Richard J. Davidson, director of the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin, “and modulates it in ways that can have health consequences.” Books like Ekhart Tolle’s Stillness Speaks and the Power of Now discuss new methods of thinking that can clear the mind and foster stillness, peace, and what he calls “the joy of being.”

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