Stress is the silent global epidemic recognised by the World Health Organisation, that shows up in every corner of society and leaves no one untouched.
You are constantly battling stress, whether you are aware of it or not. Life is usually dotted with internal and external stressors at every turn, spiking cortisol levels along the way! The menstrual cycle, illnesses, and pivotal life events like puberty, menopause, or andropause fall into the category of internal stressors. On the flip side, external stressors like bereavement, a new job, relocating homes, or the changing seasons add extra demands on your nervous system, testing your resilience to stress.
Your adrenals jump into play when you experience stress, as they are responsible for releasing the stress hormone cortisol. The negative effects of cortisol include fatigue, mental fog, mood swings, and weight fluctuations. If you continuously face stress without supporting your adrenals, you will get overworked and tired. The good news is that adaptogenic herbs like Ashwagandha can reduce cortisol levels1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6979308/, support you in managing stress, and nourish maxed-out adrenals2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6750292/3https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573577/. Begin supporting your adrenals today, as a step towards increased energy levels and vitality
When to use Ashwagandha to help manage stress
1. Change of season
Once upon a time, the change of season would indicate it’s time to mirror the environment. Moving through autumn to winter, you would take it easier, sleep for longer to reflect the reduced light and go into more of a hibernation mode. Nowadays, we do not stop or adapt to this change and continue like it is summer all year round (up before the sun for work, at the gym, parties till late at night!..). But your body still continues to respond to the change in season via your circadian rhythm, spiking your cortisol as you move into the colder months. This seasonal change has also been shown to raise your immune response to acute stress, leading to an increased chance of seasonal illness and disease.
So, if modern life has you working against the body’s natural cycle, it is essential to at least maintain balanced cortisol levels. This will not only support a smooth, calm transition into the winter months, but it will also help to prevent seasonal colds and flu!4https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5243227/
2. Going on holiday
Going on holiday is supposed to be relaxing but sometimes the overall process is.. not! Between super early starts, time zone changes, navigating the airport, and potential jet lag – not to mention organising kids or other family members – there’s a multitude of stress before you get a chance to kick back and relax.
Incorporating Ashwagandha into your daily routine a few weeks before any trip will support your body’s ability to adapt to these changes in circadian rhythms5https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-59192-6_21, ensuring a completely relaxing holiday from start to finish!
Ladies, we don’t just have period pain to contend with but also increased cortisol; lucky us!6https://doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2020.00311 This usually occurs during the follicular stage of the menstrual cycle (the first day you menstruate until ovulation). This explains why some women feel more irritable, given the additional stress hormone circulating.
Using Ashwagandha during this time not only reduces cortisol, which can exacerbate PMS symptoms but can also reduce pain and cramping due to its anti-inflammatory abilities.7https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7857981/
During menopause, the adrenals take over the role of releasing the necessary hormones to maintain female health. This is a significant role for the adrenals, and if they’re already lagging, your body may struggle to adapt to this transition. This time may also introduce an imbalance in adrenal cortisol, further complicating the body’s ability to navigate through the changes of menopause.
Introducing Ashwagandha as a preventative during perimenopause will really help to manage your body’s stress response, which can help reduce the onslaught of menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, mood swings and sleep disruptions. This phytoestrogen herb will also contribute to higher estrogen levels required at this pivotal stage, with a positive impact on joint pain and bone loss.8https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34553463/
Remaining aware and mindful of the potential internal and external experiences in life keeps you one step ahead of stress. You’re two steps ahead if you’re already using adaptogens like Ashwagandha 😁
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