Stress—just reading the word can hit a nerve that gets your heart pumping. April is Stress Awareness Month and we’ve decided it’s time to place the spotlight on the unhealthy nature of stress when it’s not controlled.
It’s no secret that stress can put your health at risk, but now research has shown that the additional presence of poor sleep is linked to long term compounded problems. Apparently, this diabolical duo can lead to accelerated aging and a weakened immune system, especially among those who are obese. This is the result of shortened telomeres – the protective caps at the end of chromosomes that keep DNA healthy and safe from damage. Telomeres begin to shorten as you age, or prematurely age, depending on your lifestyle.
How To Approach Stress
With so many available combative tools and techniques there is no reason to stress about stress. Meditation, yoga, exercise, and balanced nutrition are just a few healthy options.
One underused tool for mitigating stress is a family of botanicals known as “adaptogens”. These plants and herbs have the ability to help the body reduce and resist the effects of stress:
- Ginseng is the most well-known adaptogen and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) is considered the most potent. According to Wallace, research has validated Asian ginseng’s use for improving mental performance and your ability to withstand stress. This red ginseng also has antioxidant effects, antidepressant effects, and can help lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
- Holy Basil, also called Tulsi, is known in India as the “elixir of anti-aging”. Preliminary studies suggest that holy basil can help you fight fatigue and stress, boost your immune system, and regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and hormone levels.
- Ashwaganda is often referred to as Indian ginseng. Often used in Ayurvedic medicine, ashwaganda regulates the immune system and eases anxiety. Ashwaganda has been used in eastern medicine for over 2,500 years and has immuno-modulating effects that boost your immune system and aid the body in lower cortisol levels.
- Astragalus root is used in Chinese medicine. It boosts immunity and buffers the effects of stress. It increases the amount of anti-stress compounds our bodies use to repair and prevent stress-related damage. It may also reduce the ability of stress hormones like cortisol to bind to receptors.
- Licorice root can increase energy and endurance, boost the immune system and protect the thymus from being damaged by cortisol but its use requires professional supervision because of how it may affect blood pressure.
- Rhodiola (rhodiola rosea), or golden root, is a potent adaptogen that has been the focus of much research. Rhodiola provides a buffer to stress-related mental and physical fatigue. Also, new research proves it is also effective in weight loss.
- Cordycep Mushrooms like Reishi, Shiitake, and Maitake mushrooms are fungi with antioxidant properties. They may not be adaptogens in the classic sense, but each has adaptogenic, antitumor, and immune-enhancing properties.
Eating well, getting proper rest, staying active, writing down what you’re grateful for and maintaining social connection will all help protect you from chronic stress. Adding adaptogens to your routine can make you even more resilient to premature aging.
As a wellness coach, I help people every day to find the best ways for them to “de-stress” and sleep better at night. If you’re feeling stressed out, or you wake up every day feeling like you pulled an all-nighter, please contact me here, or through my Facebook page. I’d love to help!