Recommendations for Stress Relief

Dear Dr.Kim

I am feeling stressed and irritable these days and it doesn’t feel like me. Do you have any recommendations to relieve stress and help me cope better?

M.W. Victoria

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Dear M.W.

I don’t know your circumstances but it is common for stress to mount as we head deeper into fall. With busy routines, full schedules and shorter days, it can be challenging to balance your commitments.

During busy times it is important to be mindful and take charge of your schedule. Make an effort to increase stress-busting activities as opposed to being preoccupied and letting them slide. Each day aim to do something that brings you joy and takes care of your mental health. Moreover, make it a goal to devote at least 1 hour a day and a day each week to devote to rejuvenating activities or causes. Here are some ideas:

Exercise Cook or bake
Meet up with a friend Enjoy a massage
Meditation Take a bath
Spend time outdoors Learn something new

In addition, to incorporating or increasing these healthy lifestyle habits, you can find support in supplements.

I often say if I was sent to a deserted island (maybe Survivor!!) and could only bring one supplement, I might just bring a  B complex (OK … yes Omegas too!). It is one of the vitamins that can produce dramatic, rapid, positive effects. Many people find that it increases their energy and “lengthens their fuse” helping them roll with stress better. The B’s are involved in almost every reaction in the body and many habits such as alcohol consumption, the birth control pill, and stress deplete the Bs. Another Vitamin that is worth considering is  Vitamin D. The body requires sunshine to activate Vitamin D and Vitamin D supports a good mood. In fall and winter, the days are shorter and UV exposure decreases so it is worth supplementing Vitamin D. I suggest it is also worth testing Vitamin D to see where you stand.

There are several herbs that function as adaptogens, helping the body adapt to  stress; they heighten the ability to cope or be resistant to the drain that stress creates. Some examples of adaptogenic herbs are Holy Basil,  Ashwaganda, Rhodiola, Maca, and the Ginseng family. Adaptogenic herbs can be taken daily during periods of heightened stress and/or periodised throughout the year.

Minimizing the presence of stress in your life can be about pausing, taking stock and developing a plan to mitigate the vicious cycle. Sometimes, however, stress is inherent in the complexity of life circumstances and then it is OK to establish a plan to help offset the burden. I hope these tips help you discover some stress support strategies.

“Health from the inside out.”

Dr. Kimberly McQueen BSc, ND is a Naturopathic Physician in Victoria, BC. In addition to her clinic work she has been a consultant to the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence, Camosun College, Rugby Canada and Rowing Canada. P:778.433.4935 and www.kimmcqueen.com. Kim McQueen is one of the Co-founders of the nourishing Supershake, Rumble. See www.drinkrumble.com