The holidays are exciting and joyful, but you can't enjoy them to the fullest when you're feeling burnt out, exhausted, anxious, or overwhelmed.
Before the holiday hustle begins, many of us are already dealing with high-stress lifestyles. When you add extra holiday errands to your schedule, such as shopping, cooking, baking, parties, and traveling, it can be difficult to find the time for exercise, relaxation, and self-care.
You may know that stress is the worst saboteur for your health and wellness.
Prolonged stress not only causes us to experience emotional turmoil, but it prevents us from feeling optimistic, motivated, and performing at our best each day. Negative stress can also limit the amount of enjoyment we get from life's pleasures, such as spending time with friends and family.
On a physiological level, chronic stress is linked to serious health conditions when it's not properly addressed. In fact, panic and anxiety disorders, migraines, hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, accelerated aging, and heart disease are among the health conditions that have been linked to chronic stress.
Needless to say, prioritizing stress management can make all the difference in your lifestyle and how you feel on a regular basis - especially during the holidays.
Now, it's understandable that when you have a jam-packed schedule, adding another task to your routine (even if it's intended for relaxation) can only create more stress. When it's challenging to make it to a yoga class, or there's no time for journaling, Nature has provided us with the perfect superfood for fighting stress: adaptogenic herbs.
What Are Adaptogens and How Do They Work?
Adaptogens are a class of herbs that have been shown to help our bodies cope with stress on a physiological level and adapt to the changes in our environment.
In this sense, adaptogenic herbs have been described as helping to “take a load off your shoulders,” or at the very least, helping your body handle the stress of carrying that load much easier.
Adaptogenic herbs help our bodies handle stress better by lowering cortisol levels.
Cortisol is one of the primary hormones that's released during our stress response, which is also known as ”fight or flight” mode. Fight or flight is like a warning bell that goes off in our nervous system when we've encountered a perceived threat or danger.
Now, cortisol is extremely useful in the short term during the fight or flight response. It dilates our pupils so we can see better in the dark and gives us a quick burst of energy to run away from danger. In short, the fight or flight response is meant to save our lives.
The only problem is that today our stress levels tend to be high, which means we also have high cortisol levels. We're constantly in fight or flight mode due to hectic schedules, rush hour traffic, and high-pressure jobs. Unfortunately, our nervous systems can't tell the difference between a wild beast chasing us, running late for an appointment, or trying to get your holiday shopping done on time; it simply reacts to stress and fears all in the same way.
As a short-term survival mechanism that was intended to help us survive, continually being in fight or flight mode is dangerous to our health. The frequent release of stress hormones causes cortisol to build up in our blood in the long term, which leads to serious health problems. In fact, elevated cortisol levels are the primary reason why several chronic illnesses are linked to stress and why cortisol is often referred to as “the silent killer.”
As you can see, our need for stress supportive nutrients today is greater than ever.
Studies show that by lowering cortisol levels, adaptogenic herbs may help improve our resistance against stress. This means that by offering our bodies stress support on a physiological level, we can meet stressful situations with improved mental clarity and calmness rather than anxiety, irritability, or agitation.
By lowering cortisol levels, adaptogenic supplements may also be useful for preventing the long-term consequences of chronic stress. As you can see, the less negative stress your body perceives, the healthier you'll be.
While lowering your stress response is the most useful benefit of adaptogens, the physical effect of these powerful adaptogenic herbs can also be felt on several other levels.
Adaptogens for a Happier Mood, Energy, and Mental Focus
Adaptogens have been used to reduce chronic fatigue symptoms and improve mental clarity, focus, and concentration. Certain adaptogenic herbs are also used for natural energy supplements. In fact, many professional athletes turn to adaptogens for mental strength and physical endurance support.
While we've discussed cortisol's impact on the nervous system, cortisol is a hormone that also triggers a reaction in the endocrine system. In particular, cortisol affects the adrenal glands.
Your adrenal glands are two little glands that sit above your kidneys. They're directly involved in your stress response because they control the release of cortisol, as well as other stress hormones such as adrenaline and aldosterone.
Like anything in life that's being overused, you can only imagine that when you're in a constant state of stress, your adrenal glands begin to wear out. And as your adrenal glands slowly get depleted, it's common to enter a state of exhaustion, which may ultimately result in a serious condition called adrenal fatigue.
Low functioning adrenal glands impact every part of your body. Since all of your hormones work closely together, any disruption to your endocrine system will negatively impact the rest of your hormones.
Hormonal imbalance has been known to lead to symptoms such as depression, sugar cravings, anxiety, brain fog, a lack of motivation, overwhelm, high blood pressure, weight gain, and frequent colds and flu.
As you can see, the importance of offering your body proper nutrition for stress support cannot be understated when it comes to your entire well-being. Not only can adaptogenic herbs fight the negative effects of stress, but they can help you feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and capable of handling challenging circumstances as they arise.
Eleuthero: The Most Powerful Adaptogenic Herb
There are several types of adaptogenic herbs. Rhodiola, ashwagandha, maca root, holy basil, schizandra, and astragalus are a few examples of adaptogens that are used to promote stress relief, and each one has its own unique health benefits.
However, there's one widely studied herb that's so powerful it's been nicknamed “the king of adaptogens” by herbalists; this herb is called eleuthero.
Eleuthero, also known as Siberian ginseng, helps the body cope with both mental and physical stress. For this reason, eleuthero is almost like an “all-in-one” health tonic for anyone dealing with any form of stress, from caregivers to athletes.
In addition to stress support, eleuthero is an effective energy boosting supplement because it helps increase blood oxygen levels. This makes eleuthero an ideal alternative to stimulants such as caffeine, which can interfere with restful sleep, promote anxiety and jitters, and further tax the adrenal glands. By oxygenating the blood, eleuthero also helps promote enhanced focus and concentration.
Eleuthero has also been studied for its ability to improve immunity. In fact, one study showed that participants who took eleuthero for just four weeks had more T-cells, which indicates that immune system function became stronger.
Best of all, eleuthero is safe to use on a regular basis and doesn't have any harsh side effects. As an herbal supplement, there's no concern for creating a dependency.
As you can see, adaptogens are beneficial to your body anytime you're encountering stress. By adding stress supportive nutrients to your diet, you may find that you experience increased motivation and joy during the holiday season (and everyday life, for that matter), rather than the usual anxiety and stress that ensues.
Adaptogenic herbs can be taken in powder, liquid, tablet, or capsule form. When it comes to eleuthero, I recommend taking Organic Sun Eleuthero tablets, which are most effective when taken on a regular basis.
You can also add eleuthero to your diet with Sun Eleuthero Extract. Sun Eleuthero Extract also contains bee propolis for extra stress support through essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
Organic Sun Eleuthero tablets work best for fighting against the negative effects of stress on a daily basis, while Sun Eleuthero Extract is perfect for those who are looking for a quick, all-natural energy boost and source of complete nutrition.
About Brandi Black, RHN
Brandi Black is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist from Vancouver, B.C. Experiencing her health challenges at a young age led her to become passionate about educating on the healing properties of food and how to achieve hormone balance, clear skin, and sustainable weight loss naturally. In her spare time, you'll find Brandi writing on her blog and hanging out with her teacup chihuahua, Coconut.
Eleuthero: One of The Finest Adaptogenic Herbs
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It's always important to check in with a licensed healthcare practitioner before adding a nutritional supplement to your diet. This information is proudly provided by Sun Chlorella.