Chronic stress wears your body down in a variety of ways, both physically and mentally. To combat stress, it’s important to develop a self-care strategy that will allow you to incorporate enough sleep, regular exercise, and a balanced diet. These mainstays will be the foundation for everything else you do to take care of yourself during high-stress times. Adding supplements to your routine can help boost your body’s ability to deal with stress and anxiety (just clear it with your doctor first if you’re taking medication). There are so many supplements available, but here are 7 that we recommend:
The human body naturally produces 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) – which is an amino acid that our bodies use to produce serotonin. Increasing serotonin levels may help with depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, and weight gain. If you think you might be depressed, and you’re considering using 5-HTP, this is a good example of a conversation best had with your doctor. Some studies show that 5-HTP may be more effective when paired with antidepressant medications, and a qualified medical professional should work with you to help make such decisions.
Another amino acid, L-theanine is best known for its calming effects. Some studies have shown that 200 mg of L-theanine can help reduce resting heart rate, could be beneficial for improving sleep and can work to lower blood pressure in stressful situations.
There are eight B vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12. You can find supplements that combine all 8 into one, known as B-complex. Based on your age and overall health, you might not need a full B-complex vitamin because most people are able to get what they need from nutrients in food. However, some studies show that B-complex vitamins can help improve depression and anxiety symptoms.
Currently trending, cannabidiol (CBD), is a chemical found in hemp and marijuana. It does not produce the psychoactive effects associated with Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but anecdotal data does suggest that CBD is an effective tool to use for managing stress, anxiety, and insomnia. It comes in many forms (oil tincture, gummies, etc.) price points and strengths, so we recommend thorough research before buying anything.
Magnesium and GABA
Improving your sleep quality will directly improve your stress levels. Magnesium is known for boosting GABA levels in the body, a neurotransmitter that encourages your body to relax regulates the body’s stress response system, and promotes sleep.
What is homeopathy? Typically, it’s a combination of herbal, mineral, or other natural products. High-quality research that supports the use of homeopathic remedies for stress/anxiety is lacking and it is unlikely that a mainstream doctor would recommend them as a first-line approach for managing stress.
Best known for its stress-reduction abilities, ashwagandha may help reduce stress and anxiety by reducing cortisol levels (a stress hormone). Although it is an ancient herb, some scientific evidence does exist that points to benefits for boosting brain function, lowering blood sugar and lowering cortisol levels.Image © iStockphoto