How to relieve stress naturally

As well as the best vitamins and supplements for stress, according to Nutritional Therapists at Wild Oats in Bristol.

Stress and anxiety are amongst the most common issues that we talk to customers about here at Wild Oats in Bristol.

Stress can be defined as a response to any kind of disturbance or demand, triggering a ‘stress response.’ Our stress response is how we react when we feel under pressure or threatened. It usually happens when we are in a situation that we do not feel we can manage or control, such as struggling to manage many responsibilities or undergoing a challenging time in your life.

People react differently to stressful situations. What is stressful for one person may not be stressful for the next, and almost any event can potentially cause stress. Some people might be able to keep going along with life without recognising the signs of stress. It might not always be easy to recognise the signs of stress when you are feeling or acting differently.

A degree of stress is a normal part of life. Some people can find stress helpful and motivating. However, if you feel that stress is extreme and chronic and is affecting your life negatively, the response can be overwhelming and can impact your emotions, body, and behaviour.

Symptoms of stress & how it affects the body

When you get stressed, your nervous system responds by releasing the hormones cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream. This is known as the fight or flight response, which can result in certain changes in your body to enable your body to be able to deal with stress, affecting various systems in our body and how they function. Acute, short-term stress is not detrimental to your health. However, ongoing, or chronic stress is unhealthy and can have a negative effect on your body.

Physical signs of stress might include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pains, or a faster heartbeat
  • Headaches, or dizziness
  • Muscle pain or cramps
  • Insomnia, and sleep issues
  • Digestive issues, such as constipation or diarrhoea
  • Sexual issues, including fertility and erectile dysfunction.

How stress affects mental health

Stress can impact our mental health. Stress might make you feel overwhelmed, anxious, irritable, and depressed.

Mental signs of stress might include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Struggling to make decisions
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Constantly worrying
  • Being forgetful

Behavioural signs of stress:

  • Being irritable or snappy
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Avoiding certain places or people
  • Drinking or smoking more

How stress affects the brain

When under stress, it’s common to feel forgetful and disorganised. However, over the long term, stress may change your brain in ways that affect your memory. Research has shown that stress can affect how the brain functions and processes information. Stress has been shown to interfere with cognition, attention, and memory.

 As well as effecting memory and other brain functions such as mood and anxiety, stress also promotes inflammation, which adversely affects heart health. Stress has also been associated with multiple chronic diseases of the brain and heart.

How stress affects the immune system

Stress weakens your immune system making you more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria. Other factors such as poor diet (such as one that is high in processed foods, sugar, refined carbohydrates, fizzy drinks, and caffeine), environmental pollutants (such as household chemicals and pesticides), and medications can also cause stress in the body. Allergies, skin complaints, thyroid disorders, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain are a few examples of conditions that can create ongoing stress and therefore cause inflammation in the body.

How to relieve stress naturally?

If you are feeling stressed, rest assured there are many ways that you can relieve stress naturally through nutrition and lifestyle approaches.

  1. Focus on a whole food diet, rich in fresh organic vegetables and fruit. Vitamin C is an important nutrient to help reduce stress hormones in the body. Vitamin C is found naturally in fruit and vegetables, as well as antioxidants, which are vital for protecting our cells, especially when under stress.
  2. Avoid excess consumption of caffeine, as it amplifies cortisol production (the stress hormone) and reduces melatonin production, which is the hormone that promotes sleep. Caffeine can also contribute to anxiety. Try a coffee alternative such as chicory root coffee (caffeine free) or a calming herbal tea.
  3. Magnesium and B vitamins are essential nutrients when the body is under stress. These nutrients are needed for cellular energy production, blood sugar balance and supporting the nervous system to alleviate stress. You can obtain these nutrients in your diet by increasing your intake of dark leafy green vegetables, almonds, wholegrain rice, lentils, and avocado.
  4. Adaptogens can help support and ‘adapt’ the body in times of stress. Herbs such as Ashwagandha, Rhodiola and Reishi mushroom can be taken as a liquid extract, tincture, tablet, or capsule. For best results, consult with a nutritional therapist or herbalist to ensure that you are recommended the right dose for your needs.

Here at Wild Oats some of our favourites include:

How do you treat chronic stress and anxiety?

Address the issues that are causing you stress, whether that be in your job, your personal life, or life your health. If you are struggling with your workload, speak to your manager about potential solutions. If your relationship is strained, talk to them about it, or seek professional help. If you feel your health is not what it should be, seek the help of a medical practitioner. A nutritional therapist can help you to find the root cause of stress and find the way to a happier more balanced life.

Stress Vitamins

What are the best vitamins and supplement for stress and anxiety?

Exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and eating a nutritious diet are amongst the best ways to equip your body to manage stress. However, there are vitamins and minerals that we recommend here at Wild Oats in Bristol that can help to support our bodies under stress.

Our favourite supplements for stress include:

  • Magnesium (as citrate, taurate, glycinate) – An essential mineral, aiding over 300 functions in the body including regulating the nervous system.
  • L-Theanine – A major amino acid uniquely found in green tea. L-Theanine increases brain serotonin and dopamine levels, supporting cognitive function and relaxation.
  • Vitamin C – A key water-soluble antioxidant, which provides adrenal support, reduces stress-induced cortisol release, and enhances immune function.
  • B-Complex – Needed for cellular energy production required to maintain nervous system health. B group vitamins taken as a complex has been shown to improve mood and quality in people experiencing depression and anxiety.

Please visit us instore at Wild Oats in Bristol to talk to one of our Nutritional Therapists about how to relieve stress naturally.

Written by Laura Walker, Nutritional Therapist and Natural Remedies Advisor and at Wild Oats.

Further reading and support for stress: