Before you know it, it’s Monday morning all over again. Cue the page-long to-do list, crying toddler, malfunctioning coffee pot, six voicemails from your mother-in-law, and a bloated work inbox.
Maybe you’ve tried eating a healthy diet, exercising when you can, and setting boundaries or prioritizing your daily tasks. But most days, life just feels overwhelming. And your body may feel like it’s running on empty, too. You may be bone-tired, anxious, and depressed, and it’s only gotten worse over the last six months—with no end in sight.
Incorporating a stress-relief supplement into your daily routine could help improve your symptoms and overall well-being. From boosting your energy levels to quelling your anxiety and improving your concentration, there are a host of supplements on the market, suitable for almost every lifestyle.
How can supplements help with stress relief?
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), stress is the “physiological or psychological response to internal or external stressors. Stress involves changes affecting nearly every system of the body, influencing how people feel and behave.”
Short-term (acute) stress is actually normal and can be beneficial for us.
For example, you may feel stressed about running the afternoon board meeting, but that stress can also motivate you and help you be more productive. Problems may arise when acute stress turns to chronic stress. This is where elevated cortisol levels over a long period of time can leave us feeling fatigued, moody, and depressed.
Chronic stress can lead to elevated levels of cortisol and corticotropin hormones in our bodies, which can deplete several essential minerals and nutrients such as magnesium and zinc.
As a result, we may experience symptoms of anxiety. For some of us, this may include: fatigue, fear, moodiness, weight loss or gain, nervousness, increased heart rate, trembling, and panic attacks.
Some supplements that claim to decrease anxiety can do so in many ways. A pure form of Ashwagandha KSM-66, for example, can significantly reduce our cortisol levels, whilst a magnesium supplement can benefit our central nervous system, which plays a major role in how stressed we feel.
Improving sleep quality
Stress can interfere with quality sleep, sometimes leaving us awake all night and fatigued during the day.
Several supplements can help you fall asleep and stay asleep, helping you feel rested and ultimately boosting your energy levels.
For example, some supplements may increase your serotonin levels, which can help you fall asleep faster. Others can decrease your body temperature, increase your melatonin (signalling your body it’s time to sleep), or calm your nerves by lowering your cortisol levels, which may lead to better quality and duration of sleep.
Tackling low serotonin levels
Serotonin is an important chemical messenger in our bodies that transmits signals between our nerve cells.
It is found in the digestive system, but also exists in our central nervous system and can affect several parts of our wellbeing, including our mental health.
It is also known as a “natural mood stabiliser”, so when our levels are low, we may feel more anxious, on-edge, stressed, fatigued, or depressed. A stress-relief supplement may contain more tryptophan, for example, than natural food sources, which can jumpstart your serotonin levels.
Research suggests supplementing with tryptophan may be as effective as taking an antidepressant for those who suffer from moderate depression symptoms because of its ability to raise serotonin levels.
Lowering cortisol levels
A few supplements may be adaptogenic and can lower our cortisol levels.
For example, the KSM-66 variety of ashwagandha found in Earths Secret’s Calm complex comes from the roots of the plant, and has been shown to significantly lower cortisol levels and therefore, our stress symptoms.
Research shows that adaptogens like this one can strengthen our stress response and help “decrease sensitivity” to the stress in our lives.
Boosting concentration and work performance
Chronic stress can leave us feeling distracted, which can negatively impact our work performance. Some supplements such as Omega-3 fatty acids and B-vitamin complex can help you find your focus again by calming the nervous system and balancing your neurotransmitters.
The best stress relief supplements of 2021
The 5-Hydroxytryptophan (HTP) supplement comes from the seeds of the Griffonia Simplicifolia plant grown throughout Africa. 5-HTP affects our brain and central nervous system by aiding in the production of serotonin.
Benefits: 5-HTP may help lessen the frequency of migraines, help with symptoms of fibromyalgia, improve the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and insomnia, and aid in weight loss.
Dosage: Doses of 50 to 300mg daily may improve the symptoms of anxiety and depression, however, you can take up to 800mg with or without food. Also, consult your doctor before taking 5-HTP, if you are already taking medication for depression.
Sourced from the roots and leaves of the small shrub (Withania somnifera) and grown in India, Africa, and the Middle East, ashwagandha is an adaptogen, which means it can significantly lower our cortisol levels.
Benefits: May improve focus and concentration, could reduce anxiety and symptoms of depression, may lower bad cholesterol levels and blood sugar, and could lead to a more positive outlook and overall well-being.
Dosage: You can take ashwagandha any time during the day. You can purchase it as a capsule, powder, or tea. Doses of 125mg to 5 grams for up to 3 months have been shown to lower cortisol levels.
Magnesium is one of the most important minerals for our physical and mental health. When we are under stress, our magnesium levels can drop, and this can have a negative impact on our mental health and energy levels.
Benefits: Can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety, reduce fatigue, increase energy levels, and improve PMS symptoms for some women.
Dosage: Supplements come in tablets, capsules, gummies, and in the form of tea. It also exists naturally in several foods that we eat, such as dark chocolate, salmon, spinach, and cashews. Women should take 310-320 mg per day, whilst men should take 400-420 mg.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical compound found in cannabis. It comes from hemp, which is a specific type of cannabis plant, and it has low amounts of THC.
Benefits: General feeling of calm and relaxation, may reduce feelings of anxiety and may improve sleep quality. It may also help reduce symptoms of multiple sclerosis and lessen the frequency and severity of seizures in epileptic patients. It may also help curb cravings for alcohol, tobacco, and opiates.
Dosage: CBD comes in a variety of forms—from capsules, gummies, liquid extracts, and oils—its diverse range means there’s one form bound to suit most of us. The average dose, however, is 200 mg daily.
Kava Kava, known as “Kava” for short, comes from a plant indigenous to the South Pacific islands. It has been used in Pacific cultures as a ceremonial drink. Its active ingredient is kavalactone, which has several relaxing and mood-boosting benefits.
Benefits: Kava can reduce symptoms of anxiety, promote a calming feeling, reduce insomnia and help with sleep quality. It can also help reduce pain.
Dosage: Sold in capsule, liquid, tincture, powder, and tea forms, Kava is widely available in the US and UK. An effective dose may range from 70 mg to 250 mg daily.
L-theanine is an amino acid found in tea leaves and a few varieties of mushrooms. It may affect our serotonin and dopamine levels which can influence our mood.
Benefits: May increase relaxation, improve cognitive functioning, reduce symptoms of anxiety, reduce blood pressure, enhance focus and concentration, aid in weight loss, and improve sleep.
Dosage: There isn’t a clear dosing recommendation, but being mindful of caffeine consumption is advisable. It’s also sold as a capsule and often comes in 200 mg doses.
Lavender is an herb, and its leaves and flowers can be used to make supplements, oils, teas, and flavouring agents. Its oil has a sedating effect, which can help you relax.
Benefits: It may help you fall asleep faster, improve overall sleep quality, increase focus, and boost energy levels.
Dosage: Lavender comes in capsules, tablets, as an essential oil for aromatherapy, and even as a sleepy-time tea.
Ready to find some relief from stress?
Whilst short-term stress is normal, chronic stress can interfere with your quality of life.
Since many of us are busy day in and day out, sometimes slowing down isn’t an option. Because the symptoms of stress are diverse and can affect multiple areas of your body, it’s important to find a supplement that can also target an array of symptoms, so you can start feeling better sooner.
Earths Secret’s Ultimate health regime consists of its three main complexes: Calm, Thrive, and Sleep.
Each complex is vegan-friendly, non-GMO, and contains no fillers or preservatives. Their all-natural ingredients, when taken together, can help you battle multiple symptoms of stress, including insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, depression, mood swings, low energy, high blood pressure, and many more.
We may be resilient creatures, but our bodies aren’t designed to tolerate chronic stress. Fortunately, there are all-natural supplements designed to refill our tanks and help us feel our best, just as Mother Nature intended.