I wake up tired, I feel tense or stiff, I can’t stop worrying, I feel overwhelmed and my head is going to explode, I feel nervous and restless and I suffer from insomnia. Does it sound familiar to you? Fran Ballesteros, pharmacist and Vitae educator tells us about the reasons why we lose our balance and how we can recover it naturally.
When does the concept of stress and anxiety appear in our society?
The concept of stress as something negative emerged at the end of the 80-90s specifically in Wall Street and the world of stock brokers. Constant stress, non-restorative sleep, busy life… All this makes you be permanently on alert to survive and this is when stress and exhaustion appears.
Logically, this exhaustion is determined by one of our activating pathways, cortisol and adrenaline. Physiologically, this pathway that keeps us active, if “combined” with a highly aggressive lifestyle it remains much more active. It should be noted that it is not a bad thing to have a little physiological stress, the problem comes when this is maintained over the time and it goes against other pathways, like for example, the sleep one.
What is homeostasis and why is this concept becoming so popular?
The homeostasis of the organism is nothing but the balance of the body. It is important to note that, for each activating action I have, I must give my body a relaxing action. This also happens the other way around, if I dedicate all my time to activating relaxation pathways and, for example, I spend most of my time at home and on the couch, the day I have to go out and do something that requires a little activation will be very difficult for me.
Everything is about balance.
Why do we lose our balance?
We lose our balance because we put so many things before our own well-being. We put work at first place, better performance, social life, sports, etc. All this is great but with the right amount, otherwise, your inner peace disappears.
We have to continue living with a certain level of activation, we cannot suddenly stop and just meditate, for example, since, fortunately or unfortunately, the society in which we live does not allow it. Therefore, we have to keep doing our daily life without destroying that balance or homeostasis.
How can we recover the essence and feel good again?
Stress and anxiety can exhaust us mentally but at a certain point it is possible that we somatize and begin to have tachycardias, a feeling of suffocation, deep feelings of sadness, intrusive thoughts, etc.
When our body and brain get there we cannot return to an optimal state overnight, therefore, the first thing to do is stop and relax. When we are in front of a person suffering from anxiety, we are faced with someone who is in a loop and, therefore, before starting to work it is important to stop and go back to zero.
In this case, we could help ourselves with food supplements based on natural anxiolytic plants such as valerian, passionflower or California poppy. Second, we will try to regain homeostasis / balance and finally we will work on sleep and relaxation. All this would be highly recommended to complement it with cognitive behavioral therapy.
That is to say, in summary, the protocol that should be followed is: stop, reset (get that person out of obsession and shock), build a good base of rest and tranquility and work on tools so that something similar does not happen again and, thus, learn to properly manage stress and anxiety.
Can diet help us better manage stress and anxiety?
Finally, I would like to emphasize that everything related with a healthy diet will benefit and everything that is not healthy will generate inflammation in our body that will trigger a wide range of symptomatology. One of the things that can occur is inflammation at the neurological level, which will cause a worse transmission of neurotransmitters. This is why we can have our serotonin (neurotransmitter of happiness) store full, but not release it properly. It can also happen that at a physiological level and in a natural way, regardless of whether or not we are stressed, we do not release these neurotransmitters correctly. It is then that through food we can help ourselves by introducing foods that promote the generation of serotonin in the nervous system, such as chocolate, nuts, seasonal fruits, etc. Essential fatty acids will help us to work that inflammation that we mentioned.
As we always say, stress and anxiety are multifactorial and require modifying different areas of our life in order to manage them.