As hard as we might try, reducing stress in our lives can be very challenging.
Surprisingly, small amounts of stress can actually be good for us. It can give us energy and motivation, and help us adapt to change.
It doesn't take much, however, to tip the stress scale from good stress into bad stress. And too much bad stress can lead to a lot of serious problems.
Web MD lists some of the physical effects of stress as headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. It's no wonder stress can be so bad for us! It's to see how these problems can lead to even more health problems if left unchecked.
Even though it isn't ideal, often stress is unavoidable.
Everyone experiences ups and downs in life. Even positive changes, like getting married or buying a home, can still contribute to stress levels.
But it isn't all bad news! Science has recently shown that there's a lot you can do to lower your stress levels naturally.
One of the biggest mood-boosters is also one of the simplest: regular exercise. Yoga, a slow-moving exercise routine, is a great stress reliever.
If yoga isn't for you, you can try 30 minutes of cardio 3x a week. Outdoor exercise is also recommended for stress relief.
Participating in breathing exercises or guided meditation for 20 to 30 minutes a day can also reduce your stress levels.
Doing activities that you find enjoyable and relaxing can go a long way as well. Hobbies, time with family and friends, arts and crafts, time with pets, or any other activity you enjoy works just fine.
A lot of us already know about these stress reducers. But did you know there may be one more thing you can do?
Probiotics and Stress
Take a Probiotic
Taking a probiotic may be a natural way to de-stress, boost your mood, and recover more quickly from sadness.
One study involving about 40 young men and women who had no history of mental health disorders found that when they were taking a probiotic they had less overall minutes of depressed feelings and spent less time dwelling on sad thoughts compared to a group who took a placebo.
University Health News notes a study that showed improvements in symptoms with depression patients.
And even Medical Daily has published an article about how good bacteria may help fight depression, talking about multiple studies.
Surprising? We thought so too.
How do Probiotics Help you De-stress?
While it's well-known among probiotic enthusiasts that your daily dose of friendly bacteria is absolutely necessary for stress-busting, we wanted to know why these results were showing up, and turned to the experts for their theories.
Research in the field of probiotics and mental health has been exploding, and although most research is only in the beginning stages, it's clear this is a field worth looking into.
Lowering the Stress Hormone
In a study published in Medical Daily, it was discovered the probiotics might help lower cortisol.
Cortisol aka The Stress Hormone is one of the major contributing factors to the physical symptoms of stress.
In one scientific study, people who took probiotics before bed woke up with less cortisol in their saliva than a control group, suggesting that probiotics play a role in lowering the hormone.
Probiotics have become widely study for reducing inflammation.
Inflammation is another major physical symptom of stress. Many experts believe that managing inflammation is the key to managing chronic stress, and probiotics may play a very important part in that. Inflammation is our body's healing response, but if it's too much or lasts too long, it can cause even more damage and disease.
You can check out the articles below on how the two are connected, and on how probiotics fight inflammation.
Connecting the Gut-Brain Axis
Experts are also studying to learn more about the gut-brain axis, and how this might contribute to low moods, stress, and anxiety.
Several studies have linked probiotic use to an increase in overall positive mood and energy, as well as showing some probiotics may be useful when battling a mental illness.
While more studies are needed to confirm there connections, it's a very promising field that excites scientists all over the world.
Putting it All Together
If you find yourself feeling more stressed than usual, it's not something you want to ignore. Take a yoga class, participate in activities you find relaxing, and consider doing breathing exercises or meditation.
Of course, if your feelings of stress, anxiety, or sadness last for longer than two weeks or cause discomfort, it's very important to schedule a meeting with your doctor.
In the meantime, a little yoga and a probiotic may be just the pick-me-up you need.
Have you ever experienced a difference in mood when taking a probiotic? Let us know your thoughts!