Stress, unfortunately, is a fact of life. Whether it’s related to work, relationships, finances, sleep or just the world in general (news fatigue, anyone?), it’s a feeling almost all of us experience. The way you manage your stress is important and should be tackled with a holistic approach. What media you consume, how much exercise you do and your inner dialogue can all help or hinder your stress levels so managing these in tandem is important.
Walking through the park, eating stress-relieving foods, even chewing gum can help. Another way you can support your body in managing stress? Supplements and vitamins. These natural substances can assist you in dealing with stress and anxiety so it doesn’t leave you feeling worn out and rundown.
There are eight varieties of B vitamins, which, according to Blackmores, are all needed for your general wellbeing. Each B vitamin has its own name (for example, vitamin B9 is also known as folate) and its own function within the body. Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12 all help to maintain a healthy nervous system, which, in turn, can help provide relief and fight the symptoms of stress.
A study published in October 2011 looked at how 60 participants faired over 12-weeks when taking one of two forms of a vitamin B complex supplement. According to Healthline, participants taking the vitamin B complex experienced less work-related stress symptoms during the study — including depression, fatigue and anger — compared to those in the placebo group.
While B vitamins can be found in a number of foods including wholegrain cereals, meat and poultry, eggs, nuts, fish and fresh vegetables, your body only has a limited storage capacity for many of these vitamins, so to ensure you’re getting enough when needed, try adding in a complex B vitamin into your diet. These can be found in capsule form at your local pharmacy.
This medicinal herb is native to India but has gained popularity across the world in recent years. Commonly used in Ayurveda — a holistic healing system from India — ashwagandha is referred to as an “adaptogen”, which according to Healthline, means it can help the body manage stress — both physically and mentally.
A study from 2019 looked at how ashwagandha could relieve mild stress in 60 participants. Some of the participants were given 240mg of ashwagandha extract, while the others received a placebo daily for 60 days. Compared to the group who took the placebo, those who consumed the adaptogen experienced a greater reduction in anxiety, stress and depression as well as a 23% reduction in morning levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Ashwagandha can be found in the form of tablets or powder, which can be added to hot or cold drinks including broths or milk.
Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in your body as it is involved in over 600 cellular reactions including the contraction of muscles and making DNA. It is estimated that 68% of American adults don’t meet the recommended intake for magnesium each day, so consuming the mineral in supplement form helps you achieve this intake while also proving useful in the treatment of anxiety and stress.
A 2017 review of 18 separate studies found that magnesium did reduce a number of different forms of anxiety including mild anxiety, anxiety during premenstrual syndrome and postpartum anxiety. Researchers believe magnesium to be effective in managing stress and anxiety thanks to its ability to improve brain function and regulating neurotransmitters that send messages throughout the body and brain.
“Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxer, which immensely helps with anxiety. It’s a nervous system relaxant and mineral that assists with fear, irritability, and restlessness,” herbalist Mona Dan told Byrdie. “We hold on to so much tension within our muscles, and this is a super-healthy and easy way to create calmness.”
This lemon-scented herb comes from the same family as mint and has long been used as a way to help boost mood and cognitive function. According to Healthline, lemon balm can also be useful in the treatment of stress symptoms, allowing you to relax while also elevating your disposition.
A study from 2004 found lemon balm to be helpful in easing the negative mood effects of laboratory-induced psychological stress, with participants reporting an increased feeling of calmness. You can find lemon balm in capsule form if you want to give it a go yourself.
Commonly used as a natural sleep aid, valerian root can be found in capsule or liquid form. The compounds within the herb are said to help with restful sleep and reduce the feelings of anxiety and stress thanks to the way they interact with the chemical messenger gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
This messenger helps to regulate nerve impulses within the brain and nervous systems but low-levels of GABA have been connected to acute and chronic stress as well as anxiety and poor sleep. Valerian has been found to inhibit the breakdown of GABA in the brain, which, according to Healthline, results in increased feelings of calmness.
Vitamins and supplements should also be taken in addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle. Always check with your GP before adding supplements into your diet.