April 28, 2020
Adapting to Stressful times
By Christine Cheng, R.Ph. and Fred Cheng, R.Ph.
Adapting to any changes in our lives can be stressful, whether it be “good” stresses such as welcoming a baby into our lives, winning a game, or starting a new job or “bad” stresses such as mourning the loss of a loved one or losing a job. Undoubtedly, the changes imposed upon all our lives by the presence of COVID-19 have turned them upside down and are forcing us to adapt to a new normal…and without a doubt, this is stressful! For some, it may be a subconscious change that we are not aware of until we snap at loved ones where we normally wouldn’t, or we are less focused or more forgetful than usual. For others, it could manifest in physical symptoms such as rashes or changes to our bowel movements (more on these physical issues in a future article). Regardless, there are ways we can help our minds and bodies adapt.
Developing new routines to keep a sense of rhythm to our days can be helpful. Make sure to include time for self-care, which can be as simple as taking a 15-minute “coffee break” or going for a walk around the block. Physical activity is especially effective for helping us let off some “steam” and comes with it a whole slew of benefits, including benefits to our immune systems. Seek advice from mental health professionals to help understand what is going on inside our heads mentally and for tips on how to cope. For some of us, adaptogenic herbs such as ashwagandha can help our bodies adapt to the new stressors in our lives by reducing serum cortisol, the primary stress hormone. Ashwagandha also helps to relieve anxiety by acting like gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain that is responsible for producing anti-anxiety and sedative effects. This herb has also been shown to enhance the effect of serotonin (which is known as our “happy neurotransmitter”) in such a way as to relieve anxiety. Ashwagandha’s benefits can be felt very quickly; sometimes even after the first dose.
L-theanine is another natural option to help us feel more calm. It also has been shown to increase the levels of GABA and serotonin in the brain while simultaneously decreasing the effect of glutamate, a brain chemical that stimulates (i.e., excites). Its use can cause the generation of alpha-waves in the brain; this type of brain activity is associated with a relaxed, awake, and alert state.
These supplements can be found on its own or in combination with other herbals and nutraceuticals that can help us deal with our stress. One such product is ADRENAL CHILL from CANPREV™ , which combines ashwagandha l-theanine to help us keep our cool during these trying times. Come speak with one of your Integrative Health Pharmacists at Cloverdale Pharmasave or Pharmasave Steveston Village to help you choose an appropriate supplement so that we can continue to “be calm, be kind, (and) be safe” (Dr Bonnie Henry).
Christine and Fred Cheng are a passionate, charismatic sister-brother pharmacist team at their unique, family-operated Pharmasave stores in Cloverdale and Steveston, B.C. They specialize in natural remedies and compounding for both human and veterinarian use. Everything mentioned in their article is available InStore.
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