Because we’re all human, and we’re all different, it’s only natural that our response to stress and overwhelm will be as unique as we are. We all cope differently to both internal and external stressors and just because we might be in a position that is regarded as high stress - for example, being a new parent or extremely busy at work - doesn’t mean we will always be burnt out.
It also doesn’t necessarily mean that if we are seemingly in a time of low stress that we won’t be burnt out. Lockdown is a great example of this. Even though we were living at a much slower pace, a lot of us found it hard to relax and quiet an anxious mind.
What’s more, we know that not all stress is created equal. Stress, and the subsequent rising of cortisol levels, is essential to our fight or flight response. It keeps us alert and aids motivation. All good things. It’s when those levels of stress (and thus cortisol) stay elevated that it can start to negatively impact our health.
When we have higher levels of cortisol, two relevant things happen: our body prioritises the processing of that hormone and in doing so, curbs all non-essential bodily functions.
In our caveman days, elevated cortisol levels were to help us run away from the woolly mammoth, all of our resources going into fight or flight, in other words, responding to stress. As such, things like digestion, growth, and immune responses - to name a few - are put on hold. That’s fine (essential even) when it’s short-term but in the modern world, our stress tends to be longer-term and the long-term suppression of those essential bodily functions is what we want to avoid.
So, what happens when we are chronically stressed?
Symptoms of chronic stress impact us all differently. Some experience physical symptoms from headaches, digestive discomfort, weight gain, whereas others may experience mental disruptions - including troubles sleeping or feelings of overwhelm.
For some, being stressed can also lead to lifestyle changes in response. Some people take up smoking, ‘calm down’ with a nightcap, and eat food that is quick and easy but perhaps not nutritionally dense or diverse. We get it, sometimes we take the path of least resistance to take the edge off but finding ways to truly release stress (without adding more) is a lot gentler on the body, the effects will last much longer, and our coping mechanisms can become second nature so everyday wellness becomes the norm.
We don’t need to tell you what stress is like, or what causes it - we will know this about ourselves better than anyone - but what we do want to emphasise is how important it is to support a calm body and mind, and how to identify when stressors are starting to rise – before they take their toll. Trust us, we’ve done the research!
Before we get started on our tool box of ways to find calm and peace, let’s do a quick check-in to see if we are burning the candle at both ends.
Ask yourself the following questions and see how many you say yes to:
- Do you find it hard to unwind at the end of the day?
- Are you exhausted even after several long, deep sleeps?
- Are you easily irritated by small triggers?
- Do you find yourself getting sick more often than normal?
- Have you noticed an increased heart rate?
- Do you feel cynical and/ or lacking in motivation?
- Do small tasks often feel overwhelming?
If experiencing two or more of these, and you're feeling tense and stressed, chances are you're on the road to burn out or maybe even already there.
How to banish burnout and nurture your nervous system
So, how can we come back from burnout and bring ourselves back to balance? The good news is that there are loads of tools within our toolbox that we can use in both diet and lifestyle, and – most of them you’ll already have at your fingertips.
A nice and easy way to start is to use the Stop, Assess, And De-Stress method.
3 step: stop, assess, and de-stress method
These three steps allow us to notice when we’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed as well as working to slow down a racing head (and heart), nourishing our nervous system.
STOP when you notice signs of stress. These include:
- Clenched teeth
- Shallow breathing
- Becoming easily irritated
- Tightness in the area surrounding your belly button
ASSESS. Ask Yourself:
- What is the most important thing to solve now? Start with that
- Did you sleep well last night? Have you had “too much” coffee? Sometimes knowing why we’re feeling the way we are can prevent overwhelm
- Do you feel like you’re running on adrenaline? Time to de-stress
DE-STRESS. Try one of these coping mechanisms until you find one that works for you.
- Take a short walk. You don’t need to go far, just get up from your space and get a glass of water, make a tea, or just move your body for a bit.
- Breathe. Try to breathe out for twice as long as your inhale. This activates your parasympathetic nervous system and slows your heart rate. Try this for two minutes.
- Nourish yourself. Look for calming, natural herbs like Kava or passion flower or try the mineral Magnesium for near-instant nourishment.
Support with herbs: InnerStrength & InnerCalm
Sometimes, our overwhelm and stress is at a level that is hard to come back from without support and sometimes that comes straight from nature.
InnerStrength and InnerCalm were developed to support us to adapt to stressful situations and to provide relief when they creep up on us and we need some to bring ourselves back to balance.
InnerStrength is a blend of adaptogenic herbs that support our body to respond well to all kinds of stress. Ashwagandha supports mood, cognitive function and relaxation, Lemon balm is ideal to use during stressful moments, soothes feelings of overwhelm and supports a good night sleep, L-theanine calms the sympathetic nervous system, Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogen used for boosting stamina and mental capacity, and Pantothenic acid supports healthy energy production under times of increased stress.
Because of its focus on adaptogens, InnerStrength is good for those who are highly stressed or exposed to stress on a regular basis. If a demanding job or schedule is leading you down the path to burnout, physical or mental exhaustion, or if you’re experiencing regular brain fog, taking one dose of InnerStrength daily can support the body to adapt and meet the challenges of increased stress levels, as well as support the body when long term chronic stressors are present.
For more immediate relief, InnerCalm, with its blend of Passion flower, Kava, and Zinc, can be taken when feelings of stress and overwhelm become acute. Also ideal for sleep, supporting a quiet mind as well as the physical signs of a jittery mood so a good night’s sleep is not out of reach.
InnerCalm supports by talking us from a wired state and overwhelm, back down to a calm, clear and manageable position and can be taken as and when it’s needed. Ideal for anyone who is prone to spells of worry.