Conditions & Wellness

The Secrets of Becoming Stress-Hardy

Try these four strategies to feel calmer, more centered, and better able to handle modern pressures and challenges.

1. Avoid Drugs, Alcohol, Cigarettes, and Chemicals 

The first step in developing stress-hardiness is to avoid unnecessary substances that increase the body’s stress load. This includes drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and even chemical additives in processed foods. More than half a century ago, the father of modern stress research, Hans Selye, MD, discovered that exposure to toxic chemicals elicited the body’s stress response and caused enlarged, overworked adrenal glands and suppression of the immune system.

2. Eat A Nutritious, Blood-Sugar-Balancing Diet

You may be tempted to reach for sugar when you’re anxious—sugar actually does reduce psychological stress in the short term, but it causes long-term physical stress to your brain and body. Refined carbohydrates, such as sugar, sugar-sweetened beverages, and white-flour products, rob the body of its nutrient reserves and weaken the adrenal glands, which produce our body’s main stress response hormones. This makes people feel more tired and less able to cope in the long run. High sugar intake also is linked to depression, which lowers our ability to cope with stress.

A key to promoting stress-hardiness is to eat foods that are rich in nutrients and that help stabilize blood-sugar levels, including adequate amounts of unprocessed protein and fat, as well as low-starch vegetables such as broccoli, greens, asparagus, and mushrooms. A nutritious blood-sugar-balancing diet helps adrenal glands function at their best and promotes increased mental focus, better moods, and more long-term energy.

Eating a diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables is particularly important. Research has established that people who eat more fruits and vegetables have a reduced incidence of mental disorders, including lower rates of perceived stress, negative mood, and depression. People who eat more fruits and vegetables also have a higher likelihood of optimal mental states. Green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, and kale, are particularly rich in nutrients that are good for stress management, such as magnesium and B vitamins, including folate.

3. Use Nutrient Supplements and Other Natural Remedies 

For extra support, it’s a good idea to regularly use supplements and have other stress-relieving natural remedies on hand when you need them. While it’s not a definitive list, key stress-busting supplements, include:

Daily Multiple

Studies have linked stress with deficiencies in micronutrients, so a daily broad-spectrum multi with a wide range of nutrients is a great place to start boosting your mood and your body’s ability to handle stress. One study found that men who took a daily multi containing vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants showed a significant reduction in anxiety and stress, along with an improvement in alertness and general daily functioning, when compared to men taking a placebo.

Magnesium

Most holistic practitioners consider this mineral the top supplement for relieving stress. In fact, it’s so good at managing anxiety and stress that it’s sometimes called a natural “chill pill.”

Magnesium seems to act on many levels to improve the body’s response to stress and help reduce or eliminate its adverse effects. Yet research shows that Americans struggle to get the recommended amounts of 310–420 mg per day. Nearly half of all Americans—and by some estimates up to 80 percent—don’t get enough from their diets.

Most multivitamins contain less than 100 mg of magnesium, so most people can benefit from taking a separate magnesium supplement. Start slowly, with doses of 150–300 mg per day. But if you exercise heavily, are under a lot of stress, or have health conditions associated with magnesium deficiency (ranging from high blood pressure to metabolic syndrome to depression), you may need considerably more.

Related: Are You Getting Enough Magnesium?

Magnesium citrate is the most commonly used form in supplements. You can take capsules, tablets, or powders (that you can mix into beverages). If you end up taking too much, the main side effect is loose stools. You can usually solve that problem by taking less of the supplement or by switching to a different form of magnesium (e.g., magnesium glycinate).

Bach Flower Rescue Remedy

Rescue Remedy, which contains five Bach flower essences, provides convenient, gentle, non-habit-forming relief of occasional stress: It is the most widely distributed natural stress and sleep brand worldwide. Developed over 80 years ago and trusted today by millions, Rescue Remedy is a great resource to keep in your purse or briefcase—or as part of your first aid kit—for support during unexpected or upsetting events.

To help relieve feelings of stress, put 4 drops into your drink of choice or directly on your tongue. The remedy is also available as a spray and as pastilles (sugar-free lozenges).

CBD

CBD (cannabidiol), a naturally occurring compound in cannabis plants, is an anxiety-buster (but it doesn’t get you high). Recent studies show that CBD elevates levels of serotonin—often called the “feel-good” hormone—and diminishes anxiety. In one study in Brazil, participants who took CBD reported lower anxiety levels, and brain scans confirmed the participants’ testimonials. Another study in Brazil monitored people who suffered from Social Anxiety Disorder during a public speaking test. Researchers found that participants who consumed CBD experienced “significantly reduced anxiety,” while the placebo group suffered from higher anxiety.

More than half of the CBD users surveyed in a Harris Pol—some 55 percent—said they use CBD to relax. Respondents said they consider it more of a wellness aid than a recreational drug. Approximately 10 percent of men said they use CBD on a regular basis compared to 4 percent of women.

Related: Your CBD Questions Answered

CBD can be taken sublingually—by letting a tincture, spray, oil, or lozenge absorb under your tongue—or you can try capsules. Some CBD formulas are specifically designed for stress relief and include either essential oils or other herbs linked to stress reduction, such as chamomile, lavender, holy basil, and ashwagandha. Two examples: Garden of Life Dr. Formulated CBD Stress Relief Liquid Drops and PlusCBD Sprays.

4. Develop The 3 C’s of Psychological Hardiness

The topics covered so far—avoiding stressful substances, eating a blood-sugar-balancing diet, and using nutrient supplements and other natural remedies—are all ways to enhance the physical condition of the body. Total health depends on other factors that are mental, emotional, and spiritual in nature. Although stress from any source affects the body, it’s not enough to be physically strong. Research shows that to be truly resistant to stress, it’s also important to be psychologically hardy.

We owe much of our understanding of psychological hardiness to psychologist Suzanne Kobasa, PhD, who developed the concept almost four decades ago. Although high stress was generally regarded as leading to a high risk of illness, Kobasa conducted numerous studies in the late 1970s and early 1980s that showed this wasn’t always true. Some people did succumb to the negative effects of stress with a much higher incidence of illness, but others experienced equal amounts of stress and remained quite healthy. Kobasa found that those who avoided illness had a different way of dealing with stressful events than the subjects in her studies who became sick. She identified the following three characteristics—what she called the “three Cs” of psychological hardiness—that kept people well even when they were under great stress. They are:

Commitment

People with hardy personalities have a deep commitment to their work and personal relationships, which they say gives them “meaning, direction, and excitement.” Such involvement supports them in solving their problems without letting stress disrupt their goals—and they have dedication to a task and the belief that is achievable.

Control

They feel they can control problems either through their actions or through their attitude toward those events. They recognize what is beyond their control, and they don’t waste effort and angst trying to control those things.

Challenge

They see stress or change as an inevitable part of life and more of a challenge or opportunity for growth than a threat. They aren’t frightened of change, but are willing to work through difficult circumstances and even look forward to the chance to think creatively to solve problems.

In study after study, Kobasa found that individuals who possessed the three personality characteristics of commitment, control, and challenge remained in good health even when exposed to high levels of stress. In one study that tracked the health of 259 executives over five years, Kobasa found that managers who possessed high levels of the “three Cs” had half the incidence of illness of those who didn’t.

In the end, keep reminding yourself that stress hardiness isn’t the avoidance of stress. It’s a positive response to stress and the ability to minimize its negative effects. Just as germs don’t always make us sick if we have strong immune systems, stress is far less likely to make us ill if we learn the secrets of how to make ourselves stress-hardy.

Are EMFs Causing Your Body More Stress?

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In our day-to-day lives, our bodies are challenged by many environmental stressors, including increasing levels of electromagnetic fields (EMFs)—some of which are unavoidable. Natural EMF sources include the Earth’s magnetic field and sunlight.

But in recent decades, we have been exposed to an astounding amount of synthetic EMFs from manmade sources, such as mobile phones, WiFi and Bluetooth technologies, cell phone towers, and, increasingly, the controversial 5G network of communication bandwidths. Other EMF sources include computer screens, microwave ovens, and other technological devices that we use.

Exposure to EMFs results in oxidative stress—the formation of free radicals—in many tissues of the body and may also cause significant changes in blood antioxidant markers. Research also suggests that EMFs affect the nervous system. The most commonly reported symptoms related to EMF exposure include headache, fatigue, sleep disturbance, insomnia, depression, attention dysfunction, irritability, anxiety, and memory changes.

Information medicine—a relatively new branch of Western medicine that describes bodily functions in terms of frequencies and oscillations—aims to restore dysfunctional cell imbalances often caused by EMF exposure in a number of ways. One is by applying biologically healthy frequencies. In this method, a cutting-edge device, often in a chip form that attaches to your cell phone, contains an encapsulated blend of minerals programmed with state-of-the-art biofeedback devices.

“Just like a hard drive, this device stores thousands of beneficial frequencies that go into resonance with the electromagnetic field of the body and inform the body to make changes to counteract the synthetic electromagnetic fields we have introduced into our environment,” says David Andres, the Chief Executive Officer for Vita-chip in the United States.

“When these harmful electromagnetic fields are counteracted by using the chip, your body can reduce the stress it’s been experiencing from EMFs by lowering levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, as well as balancing levels of serotonin, the mood hormone, and regulating melatonin, the sleep hormone,” says Andres. The body can then reactivate its natural healing capabilities, and people end up experiencing less stress, reduced pain, more energy, and improved sleep, according to Andres.

To learn more about the Swiss-made informational bio-resonance chip, known as Vita-chip (now available in the U.S.), visit vitachipus.com.

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Bach Rescue Remedy Drops 

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CV Sciences PlusCBD Hemp SoftGels Gold Formula

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MegaFood B-UnStressed

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Natural Factors Stress-Relax Magnesium Citrate

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RidgeCrest Herbals Anxiety Free Stress Relief Complex