You’re not alone. If you spend part (or worse, all) of your day sitting in traffic, working long hours, transporting kids, cooking dinner, and making time for other projects, you may feel you hit the exhaustion point long ago. You might feel chronically tired and frazzled, or you may experience insomnia and rely on caffeine during the day to kick your energy back into high gear.
Over time, these minor symptoms can cause major health problems. Learning how to relieve stress is one of the best things you can do to balance your body and mind. In addition to diet and meditation, adaptogenic herbs offer you a natural way to support yourself in times of high or chronic stress. These herbs help steady you when the storms of life hit.
Adaptogens are a class of plants that help the body positively adapt to stress. A daily dose of these herbs can assist the adrenal glands, gently energize the body and brain (without the caffeine crash), and even promote restful sleep at night. They’re associated with vitality, stamina and immune system support.
The most popular adaptogens include ashwagandha, astragalus, eleuthero and rhodiola, but you may also find holy basil (tulsi), schisandra and licorice root to be helpful as well. Even some medicinal mushrooms are classified as adaptogens, such as cordyceps and reishi.
Look for adaptogenic herbs in your local health food store, usually found in the vitamin aisle. The most common forms include:
Start with a small dose in the morning and notice how your energy levels fare throughout the day. If necessary, increase the dosage.
It’s also important to do some research before consuming these herbs if you have high blood pressure or are pregnant or nursing. Ashwagandha, for example, is contraindicated in pregnancy because it might induce uterine contractions.
With such a long list of stress-relieving herbs to choose from, it can be difficult to pinpoint which one will produce the best results for you. Everyone’s biochemistry is different, so your body may respond better to some herbs than others.
A functional medicine doctor or nutritionist may be able to point you in the right direction. You can also research the different herbs to discover which ones are more targeted to specific organs or symptoms, such as liver detoxification or mental acuity. Rest assured, however, that the side effects of most adaptogens are few.
Adaptogenic herbs can offer much-needed support for the mind and body. But if you’re experiencing high stress day after day, year after year, the negative effects of burning the candle at both ends will begin to show, no matter how many herbs you’re taking.
Add adaptogens to your daily supplement regimen, but consider where and how else you can make lifestyle changes to support your health and happiness. Deep breathing, taking a short walk, spending a few minutes in the sun, and asking for help from others are all excellent ways to reduce your overall stress levels.Take stock of the stressors in your life and reevaluate their importance. Is there anything on the list you can rearrange or eliminate to allow more breathing room in your busy schedule?
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Stay Ever Well,
Lynne + Renee