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Stress Relief

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Stress symptoms may be affecting your health, even though you might not realize it. You may think illness is to blame for that nagging headache, your frequent insomnia or your decreased productivity at work. But stress may actually be the culprit.

Common effects of stress

Indeed, stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can give you a jump on managing them. Stress that's left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Common effects of stress on your body

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems

Common effects of stress on your mood

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Irritability or anger
  • Sadness or depression

Common effects of stress on your behavior

  • Overeating or undereating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Tobacco use
  • Social withdrawal
  • Exercising less often

WHAT CAN I DO?

The first thing to do is recognize the early signs of stress. When you have identified your triggers then you can take action to calm yourself.

Try the following:

Recognize the signs: Loss of appetite, increased appetite, headaches, crying, sleeplessness, and oversleeping are all signs that you may be too stressed.

Relax: Deep breathing, exercise, and meditation are all helpful.

Control what you can: Focus on what you can get done and then let the rest of it go. You will never be able to accomplish everything you want to.

Exercise: The stress response is also known as the "fight or flight" response, meaning that when you feel stress, your body is ready for action. Exercising has been shown to help with stress and anxiety.v

Supplementation: there are many nutrients that can help with stress reduction.
L-Theanine is an amino acid which is known to help reduce stress.vi It works on the brain to help people feel relaxed but not drowsy.
Ashwagandha is an herb that has been studied to help reduce stress in humans.vii
Beta Sitosterol is a natural plant sterol and that has helped reduce the increase in cortisol in normally seen in stressed athletes.viii
L-Tyrosine is an amino acid used by the body to create the neurotransmitter norepinephrine and has helped to prevent a decline in cognitive function in response to physical stress.ix

One of the hardest things for many women to do is to think of themselves first, but taking care of yourself and reducing your stress is a great way to be present and available 

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iAlmeida DM, Kessler RC. Everyday stressors and gender differences in daily distress. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1998 Sep;75(3):670-80. PMID: 9781406.
iiPrzekop P, Haviland MG, Zhao Y, Oda K, Morton KR, Fraser GE. Self-reported physical health, mental health, and comorbid diseases among women with irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, or both compared with healthy control respondents. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2012 Nov;112(11):726-35. PMID: 23139343.
iiiSchwartz BG, French WJ, Mayeda GS, et al. Emotional stressors trigger cardiovascular events. Int J Clin Pract. 2012 Jul;66(7):631-9. PMID: 22698415.
ivBarrington WE, Ceballos RM, Bishop SK, McGregor BA, Beresford SA. Perceived stress, behavior, and body mass index among adults participating in a worksite obesity prevention program, Seattle, 2005-2007. Prev Chronic Dis. 2012 Oct;9:E152. PMID: 23036611.
vAsmundson GJ, Fetzner MG, Deboer LB, et al. Let's get physical: a contemporary review of the anxiolytic effects of exercise for anxiety and its disorders. Depress Anxiety. 2013 Apr;30(4):362-73. PMID: 23300122.
viKimura K, Ozeki M, Juneja LR, Ohira H. L-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses. Biol Psychol. 2007 Jan;74(1):39-45. PMID: 16930802.
viiAuddy, Biswajit, et al. A standardized Withania somnifera extract significantly reduces stress-related parameters in chronically stressed humans: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. J Am Nutraceutical Assoc 11.1 (2008): 43-49.
viiiBouic PJ, Clark A, Lamprecht J, et al. The effects of B-sitosterol (BSS) and B-sitosterol glucoside (BSSG) mixture on selected immune parameters of marathon runners: inhibition of post marathon immune suppression and inflammation. Int J Sports Med. 1999 May;20(4):258-62. PMID: 10376483.
ixShurtleff D, Thomas JR, Schrot J, Kowalski K, Harford R. Tyrosine reverses a cold-induced working memory deficit in humans. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1994 Apr;47(4):935-41. PMID: 8029265.
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