Stress Awareness

April 1, 2020

Don’t accept stress as the new normal. Make a difference with lifestyle choices and good nutrition.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know that we often highlight awareness days and months. When we thought about taking a look at stress and how it affects us as part of Stress Awareness Month, little did we know that the world was going to face one of its most stressful periods in living memory.

Right now, there are going to be far more people than previously who are going to be experiencing stress and anxiety, some of them at levels that they could not even imagine a couple of months ago. With the news and social media being virtually wall to wall coverage of COVID-19 and all the ensuing restrictions as well as fears about wellness and health.

When even getting a weekly shop becomes difficult, let alone trying to work from home or cope with having children home from school, daily life has become very stressful in its own way. Whilst some have ten year’s supply of toilet roll, others are not able to get out at all and are coping with total isolation. We can’t make it go away, but we thought we would use this opportunity to share with you some ideas that may go some way to helping you cope.

From everyone at AOR, we wish you well and hope you and your families stay safe and well.

What is Stress?

We tend to think all stress is bad, it isn’t. Sometimes it is what gives you the push to get something done, how many people do their best work as the deadline looms? But it is not always the case and it can be detrimental, especially if it is a permanent state.

We may think it is all in the mind, but stress is primarily a physical response where the body thinks it is under attack. You have probably heard of fight or flight, that is our body getting prepared to deal with stress. A complex mix of hormones and chemicals flood into the body, the adrenaline, cortisol, noradrenaline and more all help us ‘spring’ into action and cope with the emergency. Heart rate increases, faster breathing, the blood supply goes to key organs and the muscles prepare for action.

What can we do about it?

In some situations, this response keeps us focussed and in extreme cases, keep us alive. The issues occur when we are like this as a constant state, then it can become a health issue. For some it might be muscle tension, high blood pressure, poor digestion, headaches and more. For others it can become a mental health issue with an overload of emotions and not being able to cope or rationalise clearly and everything becomes overwhelming.

Stress.org the people behind Stress Awareness month, have created a list of ten top tips to help you cope or at least take some of the pressure off. If you click on each point, you can get a further explanation. The list is a good way to start to identify where you may be able to help yourself.

MIND is a mental health charity that offers a lot of support for mental stress and related issues. They will talk to you on the phone, have a long list of resources and are a great starting point for finding out what is available to you and where to get help.

If the current situation is affecting your mental wellbeing, Mind has put together a list of resources and advice that specifically relate to problems associated with the response to the virus. Advice for how to cope with staying at home with the family, ways that you may be able to access financial support, information on self-isolating and what it means and the symptoms of the disease.  The sudden changes to how we are used to living our daily lives is bound to have an impact on all of us, if you are feeling overwhelmed by it or if you feel it is having an impact on your mental wellbeing, please visit the MIND page here.

Looking after yourself the best you can is important, supermarket shopping may have become a bit of a nightmare, especially when some people are not thinking of others and over purchase, but you can make it work for you and by planning can improve your diet. A varied diet—not just pasta—is a great way to keep the immune system healthy. Try planning simple meals before you go shopping, aim to include fruit and veg along with beans and pulses for variety.

Some areas have vegetable box deliveries and a few new ones have sprung up in recent weeks, originally delivering to food outlets, they have turned to delivering to homes and the public. It might be a bit of pot-luck as to what you get each time, but it will be fresh and often local. You are supporting a local and often small business too, helping relieve the stress from someone else along the way.

Some people have found that being forced to stay at home has given them the opportunity to cook a bit more than normal and experiment. Especially if your shopping basket is slightly different to normal. The internet is full of every kind of recipe imaginable, try something new and perhaps even get to cook with the family giving everyone a task and keep occupied. BBC Good Food or Cooking on a Bootstrap by  Monroe are two great places to start for recipe ideas for any sort of budget.

If you want to burn off some energy, or have children that need to, have some fun with Joe Wicks and his PE classes. Remember, exercise is a great stress reliever. He’s also donating all the profits from his channel to the NHS!

Don’t stop taking your supplements simply because you are not out and about, certain nutrients such as Vitamin C,  D and Zinc are all needed for proper functioning of the immune system. Vitamin D is also available in a liquid which is perfect if you are trying to get children to take it. If you can take Vitamin C with bioflavonoids in the same formulation, you are extending the benefit of Vitamin C as you are also taking its natural co factors.

If you are looking for an advanced Vitamin C supplement, look for the C present as calcium and magnesium ascorbates, these are non-acidic forms and easily absorbed. Other co factors include taurine and potassium. Adding the amino acid L-Lysine to the combination adds extra support too.

Quercetin is a bioflavonoid often found with Vitamin C, you can also take it as a stand-alone supplement and it is a good addition to a wellness regime. Bioflavonoids have antioxidant properties and look after peripheral circulation too.

If you are taking a Zinc supplement, look for one with added copper to create a better balance in the body and support mineral function.

Whilst thinking of supplements for the immune system, you can also help yourself by thinking of the nervous system too. A Vitamin B Complex will provide all the B vitamins in a balance, look for them in active forms for easy absorption. B vitamins are important for proper functioning of the nervous system and to help manage tiredness and fatigue. They are best taken in the morning or lunch time.

Magnesium is important for proper functioning go the immune system too. It also supports normal psychological function, tiredness and fatigue. If you are not sleeping well, take Magnesium in the evening with your meal.

If sleeping well is an issue, try 5 HTP a precursor to tryptophan and in turn to serotonin. Some users find it helps balance their moods. Herbal teas such as chamomile and lemon balm can also help.

You may have often wondered why we often find a cup of tea relaxing; green tea contains a naturally occurring amino acid, L-Theanine. It is a useful supplement if you want the benefits without the caffeine. Another good supplement to add to your regime.

At times like these it is important to look after yourself and your family, if you find it difficult to take a range of supplements, at least aim to take a broad spectrum multi vitamin and mineral. This will go a long way in providing your body with essential nutrients. Make sure it contains, B vitamins, Vitamin C and D, and the minerals Magnesium and Zinc.

How ever you are right now, it is important to keep in mind that for most people, this virus will mean they are ill for a week or so and they will make a full recovery. It is important to be aware of the symptoms and get treatment for those that are vulnerable and at risk. Fresh air and a bit of TLC along with a good sleep pattern can go a long way to help keep your stress levels manageable and your immune system in good condition.

There will be a time when things return to normal, it may be a slightly different normal, we might see more people routinely washing their hands, which can’t be a bad thing! We might also have a bit more awareness of looking after ourselves and those around us and increased respect for those that are carrying out vital roles in our communities.

We hope you and your families stay well and take care.

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