And unfortunately it doesn't appear to be getting much easier.
Here are a few suggestions for herbs and minerals that can help to manage your stress levels and lower cortisol (the chronic stress hormone).
When your body is chronically stressed, it lowers your immune response making you more susceptible to illness, therefore maintaining low stress levels can help your immune system to fight any bacteria or viruses you may come across. Managing stress levels is one of the best ways to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle. You could eat everything right and exercise, however if your body is chronically stressed, your immune system will always be struggling to keep you healthy.
I’ve written extensively about withania in past catalogues, but it remains one of my favourite herbs to manage stress. Withania (also known as ashwagandha) is a herb native to India that is adaptogenic, meaning it helps the body adapt to all types of stress, including both physical, environmental and emotional stress. It also lifts your mood and can even help the body to absorb iron. It can also help the body to recover from illness, both chronic and acute.
Kava, used traditionally in the pacific islands, is a brilliant herb for relaxation – it helps to manage stress and is one of the best herbs for sleep, anxiety and pain relief. Getting adequate sleep and rest means that cortisol and adrenaline levels are lowered, therefore leading to a less stressed state and a more efficient immune system.
Rhodiola, also known as golden root, is an adaptogenic herb that can also increase energy and balance your moods, particularly if feeling depressed or anxious. It can also improve cognition and mental performance and assist with recovery from illness, particularly chronic illness.
The full spectrum of B vitamins are important for managing stress levels within the body. B5 (pantothenic acid) is the main B vitamin that helps to reduce stress levels, however taking all B vitamins helps to maintain balance within the body – taking a single B vitamin can sometimes be detrimental. Although each B vitamin has a different role in our health, they are all complementary to one another and all help with the overall reduction of stress and lowering of stress hormones. They help to support the nervous system, reduce anxiety and depression and can even help with anger. B vitamins should ideally be taken in the morning, because they can be stimulating.
Magnesium is the relaxation mineral. It can lower blood pressure, help with sleep and anxiety, and therefore reduce stress levels. Magnesium can also block certain stimulating neurotransmitters and bind to calm receptors in the brain, helping us to relax. Magnesium is best taken at night, as it will help to maintain consistent sleep, however if taken in the morning it will not make you feel tired.
All of the herbs, vitamins and minerals mentioned in this article are generally safe when taken according to safe dosage ranges, however it’s always a good idea to speak to your natural medicine practitioner if you have any questions or concerns.