With the last 13 months being like no other, it's no surprise that overwhelming feelings of stress & anxiety have been prevalent.
Stress plays a significant factor in common mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. In a longitudinal study conducted by the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) along with several UK Universities, it was found that over half the adult UK population has felt anxious or worried at some point during the pandemic.
However, stress has been a problem even before Covid: in April 2018 MHF found that 74% of UK adults have felt “so stressed they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope”, at some point since April 2017. On top of this, the mental health charity Mind references a study from 2014 that found that 6/100 people will be diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder and 8/100 with mixed anxiety and depression in any given week in England.
These stats aren’t meant to scare you, they’re to remind you that:
YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE.
This month is Stress Awareness Month 2021, so we thought we’d talk you through all things stress; to help you manage your body’s stress response to ease some of your anxiety.
What actually is stress?
Let’s go back to basics… Stress is the body’s biological and psychological response to a threat that we feel that we cannot deal with. The threat, aka stressor, can be anything from an exam to moving house, or from fear of public speaking to being in physical danger. It’s important to remember that everyone’s stressors are different; for me, I find presenting very stressful, whereas some of my friends relish that sort of task!
You’ve mentioned the stress response, what is it?
Think back to times you would identify as stressful, what are the signs that this situation caused you stress? Generally, the body reacts to stress consistently, important bodily functions are increased, such as heart rate, blood sugar & breathing, and unneeded functions are suppressed, such as your digestive & immune systems. The short-term stress response is referred to as the Fight, Flight or Freeze response. Adrenaline is released to prepare your body for you to either stay still, fight or run from the perceived danger – an important ingrained reaction from when we were hunter-gatherers.
That sounds beneficial, what’s the issue?
For short-term periods of high stress, such as right before an exam, the body’s reaction is healthy and very much needed. However, issues arise when the stress response is prolonged – such as in people with anxiety or during Covid. Long term stress is linked to physical health problems like heart disease, problems with our immune system, insomnia, forgetfulness and digestive problems.
That’s stressful! What can I do about it?
There are many ways to help you manage your level of stress, and how your body deals with it. Let’s run you through some of our favourite ways to resolve your stress response, from the inside out:
- ADAPTOGENS: Products that aim to reduce your levels of stress & anxiety all include a very important group of botanicals called adaptogens. They are plants that help the body to adapt to and recover from current stress, as well as supporting your body to build resilience against future stress. Common adaptogens are Ashwagandha, Rhodiola Rosea, Holy Basil and Turmeric.
- CBD: It's a relatively new medicinal product in the UK, so it’s completely natural to be a little bit sceptical of CBD's benefits. Preliminary studies have shown CBD to react with our brain’s endocannabinoid receptors to promote a calming effect, as well as helping the body to effectively process hormones such as serotonin which regulates your mood and wellbeing. Both of these CBD effects can benefit and reduce feelings of stress. For more info, here is a report conducted by the World Health Organisation outlining how CBD works within our bodies.
- NUTRITION: What you put in your body can either lessen or exacerbate the body’s stress response. Stress resilience can be maximised by eating a nutrient-dense, blood-sugar balancing diet. Focus on keeping your meals varied, and eat whole foods (foods you’d find in nature). If possible, avoid processed foods that have a long ingredients list and high added sugar contents; cook from scratch and use lots of herbs & spices, which are not only flavour boosters but provide health benefits too! As well as what you eat, what you drink is also important to reducing stress levels. Cut down you daily caffeine intake; it may seem impossible but it’s worth it. Most importantly, water is an underrated yet easy way to keep your stress levels down and your energy levels up; so, keep hydrated!
That’s interesting, but why do you care?
Here at Evnly, we want to level with you; we believe that health seriously needs an alternative, so it's time alternative health got serious. We truly love CBD and plant-based remedies, they’ve helped to calm our stress & anxiety, to enable us to sleep soundly and keep grounded to succeed each day. We want everyone to know about the benefits so they too can reach their health and wellness potential! Therefore, if you’ve found this blog useful, share it. If you want to see us write about a specific topic, please let us know. Also, we'll soon be launching the Evnly store with a range of curated products to help you combat your body's response to stress & anxiety.