Last week I told you about three of the methods I use for managing stress and anxiety: Exercise, meditation, and social interaction. During this time of high stress where work habits and lifestyle have been forced to change, focusing on doing one stress-relieving activity per day helps to actively manage anxiety. Hopefully, you were able to try one or more of these in your own daily routine this past week, and are ready for more.
Managing stress is just as important as a healthy diet for maintaining immunity. Chronic stress can wear down your immune system. Scientists have found that in people who are stressed for even a few days, to a few months or years, all aspects of immunity declines.
Here are three more things that can help with stress and anxiety:
Rhodiola Rosea is a medicinal plant with a long tradition of use for managing stress and anxiety. The rhodiola root contains several bioactive compounds and is considered an adaptogen, meaning it may help your body adapt to stress when it’s consumed. Rhodiola is most often found as a supplement where the beneficial compounds are extracted from the roots so a higher dose can be achieved.
There is a great deal of research supporting the use of rhodiola supplements for managing stress and anxiety. Two studies in university-age students found that rhodiola improved feelings of stress, anxiety, and mental fatigue during high stress exam periods. Another study in older adults found similar improvements in feelings of stress and measures of attention.
There’s no need to feel guilty for reaching for the sweets when you’re feeling stressed, as long as that sweet is dark chocolate. It sounds like a cliche, but science supports it. Dark chocolate is packed with healthy compounds that have beneficial effects throughout the body, including your gut microbiome. One study in adults with high anxiety looked at the gut microbiome and stress hormones before and after eating 40 grams (about ½ a bar) of dark chocolate each day for two weeks. The researchers found changes in the gut microbiome after eating chocolate that corresponded to decreased levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline.
Green Tea (L-theanine)
Green tea contains a compound called L-theanine that has been shown to have stress-reducing effects. Because L-theanine is in tea, it’s often combined with caffeine, and a lot of research focuses on their combined effects on mood and cognitive function. Research into L-theanine alone is a growing area of interest, and focuses on the stress-reducing and anti-anxiety properties of L-theanine.
For stress reduction, try a caffeine-free tea instead of regular. Caffeine can increase anxiety in people who are already stressed, or in stressful situations. A study on green tea found that low-caffeine green tea enhanced the stress-reducing effect compared to a standard green tea.