Most days, “quite a bit” or “extremely stressful” is how 23 per cent of Canadians rated their stress levels, according to a survey by Statistics Canada.
And ripe for a lunchtime yoga session were those of core working ages (35 to 54) when daily stress rates peaked.
Although stress is an automatic response to challenging events, and thus a normal part of life, it can negatively affect health.
Cortisol, the hormone released when we’re stressed, can prevent us from getting deep, restorative sleep and lead to weight gain. Plus, stress has also been linked to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and immune complications.
Experts say that relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, meditation, tai chi and prayer can help relieve stress.
As can regular exercise — in just about any form. Part of the reason is that physical activity boosts production of feel-good endorphins. Exercise also works by helping distract from the day’s worries. Pick an activity you enjoy, so you’re less likely to excuse yourself out of it, and try to do it every day.
Of course, when channeled positively, stress can lead to growth, action and change. Here, how it inspired two stress-busting supplements.
“One day, I looked up and thought I’m generally a very happy person but I’m not happy anymore. I’m extremely stressed out. And I’m not as positive as I was,” says Ahmed Elafifi, who left his job as a soft drink executive to develop Tranquini, an all-natural fruit-vegetable juice containing extracts from green tea (theanine), lemon balm, chamomile and lavender – all proven to be calming.
Its soothing effect that is said to last up to five hours is, for Elafifi, “a positive way” to counter stress “without any negative side effects.” Good thing, as stress can lead to not-so-healthy habits such as smoking, drinking and eating poorly.
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After a cancer diagnosis, Monica Ruffo was looking to detoxify her life — from what she ate to what she did for a living. She left a career in marketing and advertising to study nutrition and develop a line of organic plant-based supplements, Well Told Health Botanicals. The boosters — as she thinks of them — are free from synthetics, fillers, soy and gluten.
“These are really meant to be little boosters in the areas where people need more than just a healthy diet,” Ruffo says.
The Stress Fighter formula contains just three herbal ingredients: reishi, known for its stress reducing and immune boosting properties; lion’s mane, shown to improve cognitive function and memory; maitake, to support the immune system.
A version of this article appeared in the March 2018 issue with the headline, “Serenity Now,” pg. 22.