Can you just smell the freshly sharpened pencils and new backpacks? Back to school time is exciting, but for the parents and teachers planning for the big day, it can be stressful, to say the least. It’s a time when we naturally think of others first, which is good, but we can’t forget to take care of ourselves. The added stress of this time of year requires us to make self-care a priority so that we can continue to maintain optimal health.  Whether it’s controlling or losing weight, keeping active, or sharpening our brain, we can’t let stress distract us from the importance of staying healthy. 

If you have more than one child, or are preparing your son or daughter for college, this may be a particularly stressful time. You have multiple to-do lists, and you are counting on other people, as well as yourself, to get things done. The stress of a tight timeline may meet up with the stress of work and other family events happening all at once. It becomes a battle of priorities, and when your head gets caught in the middle…here comes the stress headache.

What is stress, anyway? 

The definition of stress is “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” 

Stress causes a significant physiological response. We breath deeper which puts more oxygen into our bloodstream. Our blood vessels constrict, which puts more blood in the muscles for strength to act quickly, but it also raises blood pressure. The stress response was designed for us to have almost instant super strength in times of danger, such as running from a wild animal. But your body can’t always effectively differentiate perceived stress from real stress, so running late to work may be as stressful as running from a wild bear. 

The problem is, when we experience stress too often, like most people do, it can cause severe health problems. Stress can be caused by any amount of change.  Changing jobs, moving houses, having children or even just changes at work. It can all stress us out too often.  It effects hormones, it damages our heart and arteries, it effects our minds, and often depresses our moods. 

First, let’s look at the dangers of not relieving stress like we should. These are just a few things chronic stress can cause: 

  • Tension Headaches or migraines
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Weight gain
  • Heart problems
  • Hair loss
  • Immune issues
  • Sleep loss
  • Stomach problems 

There’s good research that says stress can actually be good for us, if we respond appropriately. It becomes a challenge that makes us stronger, rather than a problem that we feel like we can’t fix. 

Here are 5 stress relief tips to help you have a healthy stress response: 

1. Be proactive in relieving stress daily with exercise.  You can do yoga which is especially stress relieving, or you can do sports, or walking or running. Whichever type of movement your body craves, make it a priority on a regular basis. This will proactively lower stress and keep you healthier and happier.

2. Try deep breathing and redirect thoughts. You may benefit from a “self check.” This involves reframing the situation. For example, if the kids are running late to school, you can remind yourself that you are blessed to have a school to rush off to, and kids to rush.

3. Take a break. When you feel overwhelmed consistently, for multiple days or weeks on end, you need a break to reset your mind and body. Maybe you need to take a weekend to rest, or  a vacation on a sandy beach. Don’t see it as spoiling yourself. At some points in life it becomes a survival strategy, or at least a sanity strategy.

4. Support your body nutritionally. Spoil yourself with a few special paleo treats and cut out sugars and white carbs (pizza, pasta, cereal, pastries, cookies). Pack in as many vegetables each day as you can. Vegetables like spinach, kale, red bell peppers, broccoli and avocado are packed with stress relieving nutrition that your body craves.

5. Take stress relieving supplements to help your body optimize performance during stressful times. The right supplements can support your body’s stress response for optimal health despite adverse or very demanding circumstances. 

Here are our top 5 vitamins for stress relief and how they work: 

1. Magnesium Glycinate is essential for health and should be your first priority supplement during stressful times. About 400 enzymatic reactions in the body, including reactions affecting heartbeat, sleep, energy, hormone production and stress hormones, rely on proper levels of magnesium for optimal function. Stress, sweating a lot, coffee intake,  alcohol intake, and eating carbs all deplete magnesium. When the body has low magnesium levels, it will tense up, which can cause a tension headache as well as cricks in the neck or muscle cramps, and even a heart attack.

2. Inositol is a water soluble B-vitamin that helps quiet brain chatter. It helps to be able to think about one or two things at a time and not twenty. Inositol is very effective at relieving mental stress from a busy mind. You’ll feel calmer and be able to think clearly about your next steps. It really helps.

3. Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb shown to reduce stress. It also helps improve brain function during long or stressful days. Rhodiola can help you avoid drinking too much coffee, which could tank your adrenals and cause adrenal fatigue.

4. Phosphatidyl Serine is a fat soluble brain nutrient that helps improve memory and also reduces stress. It can actually help you get to sleep after a stressful day, and then you can remember your grocery list the next day! Nice.

5. 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) helps reduce the anxiety we can sometimes feel in a stressful situation. When getting ready to go back to school, or getting ready for a move or another big life change, keep a bottle of 50 mg 5-HTP capsules in your bag. Take one 30 minutes before a meal, up to 3 times daily. It will brighten moods and boost memory. It even reduces carbohydrate cravings that often increase in stressful times. Also, if you take it at bedtime, it can help you fall asleep.

High quality, effective vitamins like the supplements at Hotze Vitamins are an excellent option for being proactive with stress relief and can substantially increase your ability to deal with stress. Magnesium is first priority, since it’s an essential mineral critical for good health, but the other supplements are lifesavers, as well. If you are under a good deal of stress, you can ask for a My HotzePak with all of these supplements included. They will all be in a pack for you, making it even easier to take in the nutrition you need to lower the stress. 

Stress is a natural part of life.  They key is not letting yourself live in stress on a regular basis, even during busy times of year, so that you avoid serious health problems. Being proactive with stress relief through exercise, deep breathing, positive thoughts, and excellent nutrition are valuable life skills that increase health and happiness and are well worth the time and money. Make your health a priority today and write down a goal to implement one or two of these stress relieving tips as soon as possible.