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This week Kacey spoke again with Naturopath Jackie Arbuckle to follow up on last week’s KulaBlog focusing on the effects of stress on staff.  This week we explore how to cope with stress, and nutrients to assist in reducing stress levels to improve employee health.  
Hi Jackie, last week we spoke about workplace stress and its effects on employees.  This week could you please let us know how we can cope with stress?
Yes of course.  If you know you are under stress, and you may even have a few of the signs from the previous blog post, try to implement some of the below suggestions:

  1. Exercise is the best thing to do when under stress.  It allows you to actually become the flight or fight metaphor.  Going for a run, team sports, fitness programs, weights, pilates or yoga classes, boxing sessions, even sit-ups, push-ups and squats in your living room – all help your body to instigate feedback to the brain to tell it not to produce anymore stress hormones.
  2. Eat nutrient dense foods that are easily digestible.  This makes sense as the stress hormones that are produced lead to decreased ability to digest effectively. Eating easily digestible food such as soups, casseroles, and things cooked really well wont strain your body’s ability to digest them and will help you to avoid digestive problems
  3. Drinking more water allows your body to work more efficiently.  30ml of water per kg of your body weight is the minimum you should drink per day.
  4. Avoiding alcohol, cigarettes, and caffeine as these drain the body of valuable nutrients and are harmful for the body to deal with.  Caffeine has been shown to increase cortisol levels.
  5. Posture – sitting up straight can have a big impact on your attitude.  A good posture allows you to breathe deeper and slow deep breaths are very calming.
  6. Massage – just taking 30 minutes of time for yourself can work wonders, and what better way to do that than with a massage.  Massage has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol.
  7. Having a good laugh feels good and actually has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol.  So if you have had a stressful week – go and see some live comedy or a funny movie.

And are there some nutrients that assist the body under stressful conditions?
Yes there is, but always consult your naturopath before taking any new supplement to ensure it doesn’t interact with any medication you are taking.
Some nutrients to consider when under stress include: 
Vitamin B complex is essential for a healthy nervous system and immune system.  When you are under stress, your requirements for all the B vitamins goes up, so it makes sense to ensure you are getting more than adequate amounts in stressful times.  Food sources of B vitamins are whole grains, green leafy vegetables, meat, chicken, eggs and nuts.  It is best to take a B vitamin supplement in a complex and not different ones individually.  A good supplement will have approximately 50mg of most of the B vitamins and 50mcg of B12.  Never take B vitamins after about 4pm as they can keep you awake at night!
Magnesium has a crucial role in the nervous system. It also helps muscles to relax and a relaxed physical body is beneficial in a stressful situation.  It helps with a rejuvenating sleep, and has a quite remarkable effect on calming the mind.  Magnesium may in fact be good in combination with exercise as it has been found to decrease cortisol levels after aerobic exercise.  Dietary sources of magnesium include dairy products, seafood, nuts and seeds, meat, and soybeans.  A therapeutic dose of Magnesium is 100-300mg per day.  The best form of it in a supplement is Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate.
Vitamin C has been found to stop cortisol being released in stressful situations.  So if you know you have a stressful situation coming up, such as public speaking, a new job, or moving house it may be good to take pre-emptively.  Vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables such as berries, kiwifruit, capsicum, broccoli, cantaloupe, oranges, lemons, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and parsley.  A therapeutic dose of vitamin C is 2,000mg per day.
Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to decrease inflammatory products in the body, which in turn leads to a lower level of cortisol.  Good sources of Omega 3 fatty acids are salmon, sardines, and oily fish in general – however avoid too much tuna as it is quite high in mercury.  Supplements are a good option, as it is often hard to get enough Omega 3 each day in the diet.  A therapeutic dose of Omega 3 per day is about 700-900mg of EPA per day (EPA is a part of the Omega 3 fatty acid).  Be careful taking Omega 3 if you are on blood thinning medication. 
Remember if you are under too much stress, ask for help from friends or family, and seek professional help if you need it.  It is amazing what a chat with your health care practitioner can do with regard to making you feel better.
I hope you enjoyed the information provided by Jackie and hope that it helps you get your stress levels under control.
Stretch and smile,
Kula Corporate Yoga provides Melbourne workplaces with group yoga programs to build employee health, fitness and wellbeing. Kula Yoga offers staff a unique yoga experience to strengthen their minds and bodies. Find out more about our beneficial group yoga programs on our website www.kulayoga.com.au.