We had the pleasure of chatting with clinical naturopath, @ameliabotanica on everything stress related. What is stress and how to recognise if you are stressed? What are the impacts of stress on your overall wellbeing including your gut health, skin health, mental health and libido. As well as how we can manage and reduce stress in our day to day lives. 

If you want to hear more about stress adaptation, listen to the full chat here

Amelia Botanica

What is stress?
Stress is a physical reaction to a stimulus that causes the adrenals to release cortisol. Stress is your body is going into a “fight or flight” mode as it responds to something scary or traumatic. Cortisol is our stress hormone which is released in the morning to create arousal and wake you up for the day. Some cortisol is necessary to ensure we function, however most of us are cortisol junkies!

How do you recognise if you are stressed? 

There are a number of physical presentations that you may be experiencing that can be a sign you are stressed such as:
- Sweating
- Abdominal weight gain
- Shaking
- Energy slumps in the morning and spikes in the evening
- Poor sleep quality
- Mood swings/low moods
- Hyperactivity

How does stress impact your gut health?

Stress causes the down regulation of signalling in the gut to do its normal functions. 

Amelia uses an example of grabbing a sandwich on the run in between meetings. This is so many people’s reality, however, this doesn’t allow proper hydrochloric acid production and can impact the digestion of your food. This acid production leads to fermentation in the small intestine. This works just the same as stress. When we are stressed, we experience this fermentation in our gut and our digestive system can become compromised. Side effects we may experience include dysbiosis, leaky gut, bloating, gas and so on.

How does stress impact your skin health?

Our skin is the biggest portrayer of our health and wellbeing. If we are experiencing high levels of stress, this may lead to gut permeability and ‘leaky’ gut which can present in the skin as blemishes, break outs and acne. Skin mapping is a great exercise to identify what is the cause of your skin issues. Amelia recommends understanding the root cause of the stress or gut health issues to be able to manage and reduce the side effects which may be presenting in your skin. 

How does stress impact your libido?

If you are in “fight or flight” mode you are not going to want to stop and make a baby.

Libido is a key indicator of your vitality. If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction, hormone issues, mood swings and low sex drive, it is important to recognise and identify if this is stress related. 

If you have low sex hormone levels and sex drive which we want to improve, Amelia recommends we focus on creating a space and energy to cultivate this mood such as lighting, massages, talking about what you like with your partner. She also says it’s really important we eat a healthy balanced diet, exercise regularly and connect with nature to increase our sex drive. 

Are there any benefits of stress? Can some stress be deemed healthy?
Some stress is needed to ensure we complete are daily tasks, however, as said before we are cortisol junkies running on coffee! We need to ensure that our masculine energy that makes us go go go is controlled and limited to short periods of the day, e.g. an hour in the morning spent at the gym or getting some work done.

It is really important that we regulate the amounts of stress we have to ensure best wellness outcomes.

Amelia’s tips on managing and reducing stress
- Reconnect with your breathe! Slow down, enjoy three rounds of deep breathing and check in with yourself. 

- Spend time in the sun and nature DAILY!

- No coffee on an empty stomach (this causes us to go into sympathetic nervous system dominance)

- Eat within an hour of rising to ensure cortisol and blood sugars are smooth rather than spiking and dropping

- Spend 10 minutes with your legs up the wall listening to a meditation - this is a great way to move you into your rest and digest state and calm the nervous system

- Supplement such as Nervine/Adaptogenic herbs - think a strong chamomile or sleepy tea, Ashwaganda, Rhodiola, Lavender, Ginsengs etc!

If you want to hear more about stress adaptation listen to the full chat here

Thanks again Amelia, you're AMAZING! 

Ash & Morgs x

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