Let’s face it. Our country is trying to overcome one struggle after another. Whether it’s combating COVID19, speaking out against racism, or experiencing/watching protests and riots, I think we can all agree that we are living in tense times. Everyone is experiencing stress and anxiety to some degree over the past couple of months.
Whether you’re experiencing “adrenal fatigue” due to chronic everyday long term stressors, or just recently became stressed because of our country’s current situation, I’m here to help.
Since these stressors are most likely to stick around for a little while longer, I wanted to share some tips to help people struggling with these overwhelming emotions. This article includes some tips you can use right now to help manage your stress and anxiety during a time like now.
How Does Stress Affect The Body?
Short Term Stress
When your body is exposed to stress in the short term, your body goes into its “fight or flight” mode. The stress signals cause your cortisol levels to rise, digestion to halt, and a rise in blood pressure and blood sugar levels. This is beneficial if you are stressed out in life-threatening situations, however, many times we get stressed out over non-life threatening situations – news, finances, relationships, being quarantined with our family without a break…
When you finally relax and calm down, your body comes out of that “fight or flight” mode and goes into the parasympathetic mode, known as “rest and digest”. Your cortisol levels return to baseline and your body functions normally.
Long Term Stress
Bigger issues arise when you experience chronic stress and carry that heavy load on your shoulders day in and day out. With everything going on right now, many people are feeling this type of stress every day. Long term stress can affect your hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA )axis.
Your HPA axis acts as a negative feedback loop to control your stress response. It can turn off your “fight or flight” mode, as well as send signals to stop creating cortisol, which allows your body to relax once again. However, long term stress can disrupt this process. The HPA axis ceases to work properly, allowing your body to stay in that stressed state even when the stressful event is over. In short, your body won’t know how to properly deal with stress in a healthy way, leading to a cascade of other health issues.
Additional Symptoms Of Stress And Anxiety
If your body is overwhelmed with stress, it can cause more significant problems with your bodily functions. For example, the following could occur if you keep exposing your body to stress and anxiety without any management.
- Immune System Suppression
- Digestive Problems
- Gut Imbalance
- Sleep Issues- insomnia, poor quality of sleep, waking up in the middle of the night
- Skin Problems – acne, eczema, psoriasis flare-ups
- Affected Memory
- Reduced Concentration
How To Manage Overwhelming Emotions
It’s essential that we all learn how to manage stress. While we can try to lower our stress by limiting ourselves to negative people and events, getting a new job, or reducing our busy schedules, we can’t avoid stress our entire life. It’s not realistic. Worrisome news and stressful situations and experiences are going to happen. However, you can learn how to better manage stress so that it doesn’t affect your body in the way I explained above. Try the tips below to help deal with stress and anxiety.
Start Incorporating These Practices Into Your Daily Routine
- Reading Mindset Books
- Getting Outside in Nature
- Exercising – Choose something you actually love doing. Hiking, kayaking, rollerblading, walking with friends, etc.
Consuming herbs and supplements can be hugely beneficial to you right now and moving forward. Here is a list of my favorites that I would suggest to my patients.
Herbs for Anxiety
GABA: This is a major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. It allows the brain to relax and is considered an important factor in stress-fighting mechanisms. It can decrease beta waves in the brain which are commonly connected with stress and restlessness.
Kava Rhizome: This promotes a calming effect by increasing the activity of GABA, yet still reduces the release of excitatory neurotransmitters. You can feel relaxed without cognitive impairment with Kava.
Chamomile: Increases the sense of calmness throughout the body which could help people with anxiety and depression.
Valerian Root Extract: Reduces the sense of stress and contains sleep supporting properties which can be hugely beneficial for people who are struggling with insomnia from stress and anxiety.
Passionflower Extract: This can enhance a greater sense of calm by binding to GABA receptors as well as aid in sleep.
Inositol: This is a B vitamin that is involved in cell signaling, especially in nerve cells with neurotransmitters. When this is low, it can cause irritability and worry.
Taurine: This is an amino acid that can activate GABA receptors in your brain, meaning it can calm your brain cells (neurons), keeping your brain from getting overexcited.
L-Theanine: promotes a sense of calm and relaxation without dizziness by increasing alpha brain waves. It can also increase the production of serotonin and dopamine in the brain.
5-HTP: This is an amino acid that gets converted into serotonin, which is known as a “feel good” neurotransmitter.
Mucuna Pruriens: This contains an important chemical, L-dopa, which is needed to produce the neurotransmitter, dopamine. Dopamine, also known as the “happy hormone”, can enhance positive feelings and motivation.
Herbs for Stress & HPA Axis
Bacopa: This is a nootropic, meaning it can improve cognitive function. Bacopa can help increase focus and memory and positively impacts your mood. It can also help with repeated stress.
Phosphatidylserine: This can reduce cortisol levels when your body is exposed to stress. It can also increase learning, memory, and concentration.
Holy Basil: Enhances immune function, increases your body’s resilience to stress and can increase attention span.
Schisandra Berry: This is an adaptogen that can help improve your body’s stress response as well as support learning and memory.
Licorice root: Helps maintain inflammatory or cortisol balance which can help support your HPA axis function.
Can Telehealth Integrative Medicine Help With My Stress And Anxiety?
If your stress levels are becoming too much to handle, which is completely understandable during these times, integrative telehealth can be a helpful option for you. You can connect with a provider easily over the internet without having to go to a clinic and potentially be exposed to any viruses going around. With telehealth, you can explain symptoms you are experiencing and your integrative provider can give you recommendations for particular supplements, dosages, and brands that would work best for your unique situation.
Reshma Patel, PA-C is the founder of Ananda Integrative Medicine located in Brentwood, Los Angeles. She is an integrative provider who offers in-person services as well as telehealth services. With over 17 years of experience in urgent care, she knows what works best for patients. If you are struggling with unmanageable stress or anxiety and need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to Reshma Patel. She will work with you to assess your lifestyle behaviors, give you recommendations on specific supplements, and can order lab testing if necessary.
Schedule a virtual appointment so you can learn how to start taking control of your stress all while staying in the comfort of your own home.
Take this quiz to find out if you have underlying stress or anxiety that needs to be addressed.
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Reshma Patel, PA-C, MMS, CEO / Founder of Ananda Integrative Medicine
Integrative & Holistic Practitioner Reshma Patel, PA-C, combines conventional Western medicine with an Integrative and Holistic approach to wellness at Ananda Integrative Medicine, in Brentwood, Los Angeles. She believes that the path to true health lies not in treating or masking symptoms, but by identifying and healing the root cause of health conditions. Her approach to medicine helps patients harness their natural healing ability to optimize body function and overall wellness.