In our ever-connected world, it’s pretty easy to feel overloaded. Whether it’s your smartphone incessantly buzzing, emails piling up or work deadlines looming, it seems like we never get the opportunity to properly switch off.
In fact, insurance giant AXA found that British adults are suffering a stress “epidemic” because of the “always on” workplace culture.
A study of 4,000 adults found that four out of five of us feel stressed during the working week, while almost one in 10 were stressed all the time.
While the stress response can be a useful drive that helps you take action, feel more energised and get results, regularly feeling overwhelmed during the working day can lead to serious mental health problems like anxiety and depression.
Obviously, the first step to reducing stress should be speaking to your employer about how you’re feeling so you can attempt to lighten your workload. However, there are also some preventative steps you can take to ease the symptoms in the short term.
Here, we asked the experts to recommend the best natural remedies to take when you feel stress is getting the better of you.
Ginseng is a natural adaptogen which has been shown to enhance our ability to cope with various stressors. “A supplement may be especially beneficial for people with exam or work-related pressure,” GP Dr. Sarah Brewer says. “The root of Panax ginseng contains chemical components called ginsenosides, which are believed to be the active ingredient. This can help to improve energy levels and balance the release of stress hormones throughout the day.”
This potent oat plant is a type of cereal grain that originates from the Mediterranean. It’s been used for centuries in herbal and folk medicine to treat insomnia, nervous exhaustion and stress. “If you’re feeling overloaded, try A.Vogel AvenaCalm,” says Dr. Brewer. “It contains a fresh herb extract of the oat plant for the relief of mental stress and nervous exhaustion.”
Magnesium is an essential mineral that is so good for stress it’s been dubbed ‘nature’s valium’. It’s thought that upping your magnesium intake counters stress by stimulating the GABA receptor in the brain. When GABA is low, your brain gets stuck in the “on” position and it becomes impossible to switch off and relax. If you’re easily overwhelmed at work, it’s likely you’re running on low GABA levels – a state that’s associated with panic attacks and other stress-related disorders.
“If stressful situations are acute and finite then the body can return to its natural state, but if stress is long-term, we may succumb to a state of chronic stress,” says Healthspan psychologist Dr. Meg Arroll. “This can lead to the depletion of magnesium, which in turn, diminishes our ability to produce important hormones and neurotransmitters.”
Dr. Dick Middleton, pharmacist and Chair of the British Herbal Medicine Association, says a good way to combat the instant nature of electronic communications is to roll on soothing essential oils like lavender to relieve the symptoms of stress and anxiety.
“This herb does not have the addictive or withdrawal problems which can sometimes be associated with long-term use of prescribed benzodiazepine drugs,” he says.
However, when buying natural supplements, he advises that patients should “always look for herbal medicines that display ‘THR’ on the pack” ( the letters stand for Traditional Herbal Registration) to ensure you are buying high-quality, safe products.