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By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

 

November is Stress Awareness Month so I thought I would take some time to address stress and how we can best manage it.

“Stress” has become a word that we all throw around but we sometimes forget the true meaning of it. I’m sure we’ve all told our friends that we’re a bit stressed and laughed it off. But despite the flippant way that we might refer to it, stress is a real problem for a lot of people and it can have serious repercussions.

Those who live with prolonged stress put themselves at risk for a number of health problems, including:

  • Fatigue/exhaustion
  • Irritability
  • Poor concentration
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Aches and pains
  • Headaches
  • Stomach and digestive problems

Stress can be caused by any number of things, whether it is work pressure, financial concerns, relationship issues or a high-pressure event looming. There is even evidence to suggest that not getting enough magnesium or vitamin B can cause stress.

The good news is that there are many ways in which you can manage and reduce your stress.

stress-pharmacy-corner-yogaOne of the most important things to do when trying to manage your stress is to learn how to relax. This is, of course, easier said than done. Everyone has different ways of doing this, for some, it’s a bath and a glass of wine, for others, it might be yoga, meditation or even a walk on the beach. Whatever your preferred method is, you need to make time for it on a regular basis – even if only two or three times a week. This will give you something to look forward to and allow you to regularly de-stress.

Many people find that exercise is a crucial part of keeping stress at bay. In addition to providing a much-needed part of your health regimen, exercise releases endorphins – the happy hormone – that may help to improve your mood and decrease your stress. Studies have shown that those who exercise in the morning are more likely to be successful at job interviews and are more focused than those who do not.

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Try melatonin-boosting foods like bananas or oats to help promote a good night’s sleep.

As with all things, a healthy, well-balanced diet is important. In periods of high stress, you can combat many of the symptoms of stress by eating well: lots of vegetables and unprocessed grains. Magnesium, B vitamins and melatonin should all be included in your diet and can be found in leafy greens, beans, whole cereals and fruit such as pineapples, bananas and oranges. If you’re concerned that you are not getting enough of these crucial vitamins, consider taking a supplement which contains Vitamin B (choose one which contains all of the B vitamins) and Magnesium in addition to a Melatonin supplement. Avoiding alcohol, processed food and sugar may also help, particularly if your sleep is suffering. Without high quality of sleep, we cannot function to our full potential and sleep deprivation can make you feel anxious, as well as other health problems. Make sure to keep a regular bedtime and avoid drinking or eating caffeinated products after lunch.

There are some holistic remedies which you may find helpful like Kalms and Bach Rescue Remedy. St John’s Wort has also traditionally been used to alleviate symptoms of stress. Check with your pharmacist before taking as it can interact with other medications. Lavender sprays or dried sprigs can be helpful for those who are struggling to fall asleep.

One of the most important things to do when dealing with stress is to make sure that you don’t isolate yourself. Talk problems and concerns out with your loved ones and make time to spend with them. Quality time with friends and family is a great way to relax.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed, but remember that it is normal to feel this way sometimes. Stress affects us all but in different ways. Some people struggle with stress more than others but this is nothing to be ashamed of. All it means is that we need to find our limits learn how to prioritize and how to unwind.

If stress is affecting your quality of life, speak to your doctor for advice.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.