This post is written in partnership with New Chapter, Vermont-based maker of whole-food vitamins and supplements, however, all opinions are my own. I only work with and recommend companies whose products I love, and I’m so excited to share these with you!
Learning how to manage my stress and anxiety has always been at the bottom of my list of health priorities. I have my diet down to a fine art (natch), and I work out every day come rain or shine. But helping my body mitigate the negative effects of stress always seems to fall to the bottom of my to-do list.
The more I learn about how exactly high levels of stress can affect almost every aspect of my health and wellbeing, the more passionate I am about finding enjoyable and easy to implement ways to relieve my stress and anxiety daily.
In functional medicine we term the amount of stress someone is under as the ‘allostatic load’. Allostasis is the process in which our body makes physiological changes to deal with external stressors. It can affect many aspects of long-term health. This includes our immune system, hormone balance, blood sugar regulation, inflammation levels and mood and cognitive function.
Ideally, we want to do everything we can to minimize allostatic load and its negative effects on our health. That’s why I’m sharing some of the some simple yet highly effective changes I’ve made to my daily wellness routine to help my body and my mind achieve a healthy stress response.
When considering how to manage your stress and anxiety in daily life, developing a mindful approach to caffeine is crucial.
I used to wear my caffeine tolerance as a badge of honor. For years, this meant I would enjoy a cup of coffee after lunchtime. But more recently I shifted my caffeine cut off point. First to 11am and then 9:30am. I’ve found this helps me feel a lot calmer and less anxious during the day. It even prevents me from suffering from a mid-afternoon energy slump.
The half-life of caffeine (the time the body needs to eliminate one-half of the caffeine) in healthy adults is approximately 5 to 6 hours. However, I recommend stopping caffeine consumption as early as possible during the day. This is especially important if you’re experiencing increased anxiety, energy highs and lows, or trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep at night.
I’d been meaning to buy a weighted blanket for a long time. But when anxiety got the better of me a couple of weeks ago, I decided to bite the bullet. It seemed like a great way to help manage my stress and anxiety in the short and long term.
Weighted blankets work by putting a gentle amount of pressure on the body, which activates your parasympathetic nervous system or your state of ‘rest and digest’. I started using my weighted blanket when I was feeling stressed or anxious, or when reading before bed. I now sleep under it at night too and truly believe it is improving the quality of my sleep.
I’ve been trying to cultivate a regular meditation habit for years as the benefits are so vast and well documented. But it always felt more stressful than relaxing for me!
Recently, however, I’ve been able to meditate every day for over a month. The fix was for me to meditate at the end of the day, instead of first thing in the morning. I’m a true morning person. In the early hours, my energy and motivation is highest, so I struggle to sit still and be mindful. Now I meditate at the end of my workday when my energy is lower. I really look forward to it as a chance to let my mind settle. It’s a great way to transition into my down time and evening routine.
Supplements offer wellness support, including for managing stress and anxiety. For the last month or so I’ve added New Chapter’s Magnesium + Ashwagandha and Ashwagandha Force to my daily supplement regime. I’m really feeling the benefits of reduced anxiety, and increased resiliency when dealing with stressful situations.
Used in over 300 metabolic processes in the body, magnesium is such an important mineral for optimum health. It’s especially important to make sure we reach our magnesium needs in times of stress. When our bodies are making high levels of the stress hormone cortisol they can ‘steal’ this much needed mineral from other important processes in the body. If our magnesium levels are low, we ‘re not able to activate a healthy stress response.
New Chapter’s Magnesium + Ashwagandha is my magnesium supplement of choice. It’s the one I recommend to my clients, as it is chelated with magnesium bisglycinate and sea-sourced magnesium. This means that your body can actually use and absorb the magnesium rather than have it pass too quickly through the GI system. I also love that you only need one tablet a day, making it easy to add to your daily wellness routine.
Additionally, it contains Ashwagandha, an adaptogen that helps your body activate a healthy stress response and promotes feelings of calm and relaxation. In fact, I’m such a fan of Ashwagandha (it helps me adapt to external stressors and manage both mental and physical stress) that I’ve also added New Chapter’s Ashwagandha Force to my daily supplement regime and even just a few weeks in I’m really noticing the benefits.
New Chapter’s Ashwagandha Force uses a clinically studied dose of this adaptogen herb. Ashwagandha Helps improve feelings of wellbeing, promotes energy, and boosts adrenal function* which is an oft-neglected part of stress management and self-care. Again, you just need one tablet a day to reap all these benefits. I like to take mine after breakfast for stress management that will help me throughout the day.
You can find all of the New Chapter products mentioned here in your local health food store, Whole Foods, CVS, on Amazon, or at www.newchapter.com.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.