April marks Stress Awareness Month which is a time to recognise the causes of stress and what can be done to minimise its negative effects on the body. Recent research highlights the profound impact stress can have on brain function, from inflammation, to changes in cognitive structure. Stress management is integral not only for our mood, but for our overall brain health. Read on for simple lifestyle changes that can help you mitigate the impacts of stress to help keep your brain healthy.
It seems like a no brainer (pardon the pun!) but regular exercise is paramount to keeping the negative effects of stress at bay to promote overall brain health. During stressful moments, your body releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline that turn on a 'fight or flight' response thus putting the body on high alert. High levels of these hormones prolonged by stress can have negative effects on the brain and body over time such as changes in cognition that lead to anxiety and depression, high blood pressure and the formation of artery-clogging deposits.
Exercise is a powerful tool to combat this as it reduces these stress hormones whilst promoting the release of endorphins which are natural chemicals in the brain that help improve mood and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. These mood-boosting neurotransmitters may be easier to reach than you expect with a recent YouGov study finding that the average time for British adults who exercise three times a week to experience a natural high from exercise is just nine minutes and 44 seconds. Find a form of exercise that suits you - whether it's something low intensity like swimming or a brisk walk, or maybe you prefer running or a cardio workout, regularly moving will reduce stress, keep your brain healthy and make you feel good.
Eating a healthy and balanced diet with specific brain-boosting nutrients is often overlooked when it comes to managing stress and maintaining a healthy brain. Leafy greens such as spinach, kale and chard all contain folate which is a vitamin that helps produce feel-good chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin. In times of stress, the body uses vitamin C to produce cortisol so it is important to consume natural sources of vitamin C where possible to keep the body balanced. Citrus fruits such as oranges a great source of this vitamin, alongside other foods like blackcurrants, strawberries and peppers.
Ensuring you are supplementing high quality nutrients, particularly those that our body doesn't make, is a great way to care for your brain health and wider wellness. B vitamins such as vitamin B6 and B12 are important for the production of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals in the brain that regulate mood and anxiety. They can help to reduce stress and promote a sense of calm. Research has found that zinc can also help regulate the body's stress response by lowering cortisol levels and promoting relaxation.
Doctor Seaweed's Focus+ Capsules make it easy to feed your mind with the nutrition it needs to boost your mood, energy and brain health. Each capsule contains the important B vitamins and zinc to improve mental performance and support both brain and eye health. These stress-busting nutrients are carefully blended with natural iodine, a nutrient essential for cognitive function, energy and a balanced metabolism. Focus+ contains the unique addition of a soft gel capsule of omega 3 DHA from algae making this essential nutrient accessible to those on a more plant-based diet. Click here to shop Focus+
Wellness Tips to Alleviate Stress
We all know there's more to managing stress and improving your mood than just exercise, supplements and a healthy diet. In current times where having a work life balance can be difficult, it's important to take those small moments and acknowledge what really makes you feel wonderful. As part of our ongoing mission to find out what wellness means to you, we're sharing some of the tips from our community that could help you unwind and destress. Check out Bev and Jackie's wellness tips below!
"My go to wellbeing essential is the beach. Stepping onto the sand barefoot, regardless of the weather, breathing in the sea air always puts things in perspective. I know when I’ve gone too long without my beach fix! Throw in my dogs, family, friends, a good book or wine - one or all of the above and we are onto a winner!" - Bev
"Running is my happy thing! But not on pavements; getting out into the hills or next to water is good for body, mind and soul." - Jacki
We want to know what lifts your mood, helps you relax and makes you feel wonderful! Whether that’s a cold-water dip or sitting in your comfies watching Netflix, scaling a mountain or simply meeting with friends - we want to know your wellness tips. To share your wellness tip and to be in with the chance of winning a pamper day, click here to enter.