Managing Stress Naturally

What are some common causes of stress?

Everyday life, work, and emotional triggers (sadness, fear, depression and anxiety) are just a few examples of daily stressors. Not everyone is stressed by the same things so it is important to know your triggers and how to avoid or deal with them.

What can stress do to the body?

Small amounts of stress are normal but when stress becomes prolonged or makes you feel overwhelmed then it needs to be addressed. Prolonged stress can lead to unwanted health problems, including:

  • Muscle tension in shoulders and neck
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach upset
  • Change in eating patterns
  • Social withdrawal
  • Sleep disorders

Ways to reduce stress

There are many natural ways to prevent and reduce stress. First of all, simply avoiding stressful triggers is one of the easiest ways to prevent stress. Furthermore, incorporating healthy lifestyle decisions into your normal routine is beneficial in combating stress. For example:

  • Physical exercise: the CDC recommends that adults participate in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise at least 5 days per week.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Reduce/avoid caffeine, avoid stimulants, reduce/avoid alcohol consumption
  • Get plenty of sleep each night
  • Breathing exercises
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Maintain a normal routine
  • Connect socially and stay involved in the community
  • Spend time outdoors (hike, walk, or run)

Calming “Over the Counter” Supplements

There are some over the counter supplements that claim to induce relaxation thereby decreasing stress. These include products that contain L-theanine, B-vitamin complexes, and 5-HTP. However, the majority of over the counter supplements are not approved by the FDA and can potentially interact with prescription medications and other over the counter products. It is always best to talk with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before choosing to use an over the counter supplement.

Brooke Douglas, PharmD Candidate 2018

Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy

References:

1. https://www.cdc.gov/features/copingwithstress/index.html

2. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/prevention/policies_practices/physical_activity/guidelines.htm

3. https://www.fda.gov/Food/DietarySupplements/UsingDietarySupplements/ucm109760.htm

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