Written by Dr. Danielle O’Connor, ND
Now more than ever, Canadians are feeling the pinch. I’m talking about stress! So much has changed…our normal daily routines, people are less active, getting less time outdoors, and socializing less with the ones we love. Everyone is trying to figure out their “new normal” and adapt to our ever-changing world.
All of these changes really throw our bodies out of whack. Recent studies show 54% of people are more emotionally exhausted,1 42% report a decline in mental health,1 and 50% say stress is having an impact on their sleep patterns.2
When our bodies are under stress, they initiate the fight or flight response. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is released and alters the functioning in many areas of the body including increasing our blood pressure, slowing down digestion, altering our mood and making us more anxious, turning on our brains which makes it harder to sleep, and even suppressing the immune system. This is definitely not the picture of health!
Other very common complaints with stress are poor sleep and lack of focus or concentration, or as many call it ‘brain fog’. Having difficulties finding the right word, or recalling someone’s name is not a coincidence, as it has been found that chronic stress can cause loss of brain volume leading to both emotional and cognitive impairments.3
Luckily, there are things we can do to help relieve symptoms of stress.
Top 3 tips for daily activities to help bring your cortisol down and support stress management
- Maintain time for yourself. It’s easy to forget about your own needs and health goals so keep half an hour to yourself and do things that spark joy within you. This could be as simple as enjoying your cup of coffee in solitude or a quick 30 minute work out.
- Engage in deep breathing especially when you are stressed. Take a moment to take a deep breath in and out. This helps to engage the parasympathetic nerve which decreases the stress response within our body.
- Spend time with your loved ones!
Key Supplements for Increasing Resistance to Stress
For added support, which I feel is something that we all need right now, I like to use various botanicals with adaptogenic activity. Adaptogens are a class of botanicals that temporarily relieve symptoms of stress.
Health Canada tells us that several herbal ingredients have long been used in Herbal Medicine as adaptogens to help increase energy and bolster resistance to stress:
Ashwagandha help increase energy and resistance to stress and is used for memory enhancement.4
Siberian Ginseng helps relieve general weakness and fatigue and helps improve mental and physical performance after periods of mental and physical exertion.4
Rhodiola rosea temporarily relieves symptoms of stress, such as mental fatigue and weakness, and helps support cognitive function.4
GABA has been shown to temporarily promote relaxation.4
Another great supplement to help support the body through times of stress is Mushrooms, such as Reishi, Cordyceps, Chaga, Shiitake and Maitake. Mushrooms have long been recognized as potent adaptogens5,6,7 as well as having the added benefit of supporting the immune system with their immunomodulating properties.8
Top 2 Supplements for Stress Management
- Progressive Resilient Mind is an amazing formula with a combination of herbals and nutrients to help support resistance to stress as well as mental performance. What sets this formula apart from other stress supplements, in addition to the added support for cognitive function, is the peace of mind knowing that it is TRU-ID® certified to guarantee the authenticity of the herbal ingredients on the label.9
- Progressive Mushroom Complex is a 7 mushroom blend that increases the body’s resistance to stress and is a source of fungal polysaccharides with immunomodulating properties. What sets this stress supplement apart is its additional benefit of helping support immune health. It contains all organic mushrooms and is TRU-ID® certified to guarantee authenticity of the ingredients on the label.10
- The other COVID-19 crisis: Mental health. Accessed Feb 24, 2021 at: https://www.qualtrics.com/blog/confronting-mental-health/
- Stress becoming a way of life for Canadians. Accessed Feb 24, 2021 at: https://www.ipsos.com/en-ca/stress-becoming-way-life-canadians
- How stress and depression can shrink the brain. Aug. 12, 2012. Science Daily. Accessed March 9, 2021. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120812151659.htm
- Health Canada. Single monographs. Accessed May 6, 2021 at: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monosReq.do?lang=eng&monotype=single#S_SINGLE
- Health Canada. Cognitive Function monograph. Accessed Feb 17, 2021 at: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=fonc.cognitive.func&lang=eng
- Koh J. H, Yu K. W, Suh H. J, Choi Y. M, Ahn T. S. Activation of macrophages and the intestinal immune system by an orally administered decoction from cultured mycelia of Cordyceps sinensis. BiosciBiotechnol Biochem. 2002;66:407–11.
- Sissi Wachtel-Galor, John Yuen, John A. Buswell, and Iris F. F. Benzie. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Chapter 9 Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92757/
- Katie M Love, Rebecca E Barnett, Ian Holbrook, Gerald Sonnenfeld, Hajime Fujii, Buxiang Sun, James C Peyton, William G Cheadle. A natural immune modulator attenuates stress hormone and catecholamine concentrations in polymicrobial peritonitis. J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2013 Jun;74(6):1411-8. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e31829215b1
- Health Canada. Mushroom Complex NPN 80106262. Accessed November 18, 2021 at: https://health-products.canada.ca/lnhpd-bdpsnh/info.do?licence=80106262
- Health Canada. Resilient Mind NPN 80107711. Accessed November 18, 2021 at: https://health-products.canada.ca/lnhpd-bdpsnh/info.do?licence=80107711