Adaptogens 101: Part of Natural Stress Management

If you haven’t heard of adaptoens, you’re in for a treat! This is one group of supplements that anyone can benefit from. Their name says it all – they help your body adapt to stress. Adaptogens work in a unique way, by helping you perk up or calm down, depending on what your body needs. They’re like the chameleons of the supplement world.

Read on to discover the different types of adaptogens and how they can support you.

You may hear the word ‘STRESS’ and immediately think of the mental and emotional aspects along the lines of feeling overwhelmed, overly busy, and/or anxious.

In reality, the body actually encounters different forms of stress every day and is always working to restore homeostasis (the body’s happy place, or natural equilibrium).

Your body is constantly being bombarded by stressors – even when you don’t feel stressed. In fact, you probably won’t feel stressed day-to-day from some of these ongoing sources of stress because your body is adept at dealing with them.

Here are some examples of common, daily stressors:

  • Exercise – yep, it’s good for you, but it’s a form of stress the body has to deal with!
  • Lack of sleep
  • Toxins - like exposure to environmental pollutants, heavy metals, and chemicals in personal care and cleaning products
  • Viruses/Colds
  • Anxiety - which can be caused by stress or exacerbates existing stress
  • Stimulation – in the form of light, screens, loud or constant noise and bombarding visuals
  • Negative thoughts – patterns of thinking that affect your emotions and body’s hormonal response

Decreasing stress is critical for good health. There are many effects of ongoing stress including: weight gain, poor digestion, increased inflammation, accelerated cellular aging, hormonal imbalances, including adrenal dysfunction - your adrenals are responsible for your body’s response to stress.

Good news - there are plenty of ways to reduce the impact of stress in your life, including:

  • Getting to bed before 10:30 pm and getting enough sleep
  • Keep up with a regular exercise routine
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet full of whole foods
  • Consuming enough healthy fats to support your hormones
  • Practicing tried ‘n true stress relief techniques
  • Processing your emotions (through talking, journaling and personal reflection)
  • Yoga, meditation and other practices that calm your nervous system

But, if you’re looking for something to naturally supplement your diet with, in a way that can minimize the impact that daily stressors have on your body, you might want to consider adding an adaptogen (or two) to your health plan.

What are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens - or Adaptogenic Herbs - are plant-based supplements (usually in pill or powder form) that do just what they sound like: they can help your body adapt to the stressors of your personal environment.

Adaptogens have a long history of use in ancient medical practices, like TCM - Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic practices.

Current research has found that Adaptogens boost mental function, attention span, and energy during times of stress and reduce the overall production of inflammatory stress hormones, like cortisol.

Here are 5 common adaptogens:

  • ASHWAGANDHA – decreases anxiety, calming effect
  • ASIAN GINSENG – decreases fatigue, calming effect
  • MACA – boosts energy levels, balances hormones
  • RHODIOLA ROSEA – boosts energy and immune system function
  • SCHISANDRA FRUIT – enhances energy and cognitive function

How do Adaptogens work?

The molecular pathways involved in the body’s stress response are complex.

The 3 glands responsible for regulating stress hormones:

  • Hypothalamus
  • Pituitary
  • Adrenals

These glands function in your body’s stress response. This is called the HPA axis which refers to the cascade of hormone secretion and effects that your body launches to cope with stress in your body.

Contrary to what you might think, your body’s stress response isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually a helpful, adaptive mechanism that supports you in living your best live. When you’re experiencing prolonged stress this healthy sequence of events can be disrupted (something called HPA Axis Dysfunction) which is when you’ll start seeing negative symptoms (like hormonal imbalance) resulting from stress.

Research has found Adaptogens help support these glands in achieving equilibrium or homeostasis – a fancy way of saying that they help stress hormones get back into balance.

Unlike caffeine, alcohol, and other drugs, Adaptogens can gently help reduce stress hormones, decrease anxiety levels, and prevent fatigue without any crazy spikes or crashes in energy.

How do you take Adaptogens - and are they safe?

Adaptogens are available in pill or powdered form, of which powders can easily be added to teas, smoothies, soups, and other recipes - see our recipe at the end!

The best part about these herbal supplements is that it’s not necessary to take every Adaptogen every day, and choosing just one to add to your routine can still provide health benefits.

It’s recommended to rotate between Adaptogens, using one at a time for several weeks and then switching to another, if desired, to reap the benefits of several varieties.

You should follow the dosing instructions on the product label or consult with a Natural Health Practitioner for specific Adaptogen recommendations related to the health conditions that you may be experiencing.

It's important to note, though, that while most adaptogens are generally safe for nearly everyone, please supplement with awareness.

RECIPE

Maca Mocha Smoothie

Ingredients

¾ cup coconut or other dairy-free milk
¼ cup brewed coffee, cooled
1 banana, frozen in chunks
1 tsp maca powder (can work up to 2 tsp per day)
1 tsp - 1 Tb cacao powder, raw & unprocessed (non-Dutch)
Optional: 2 tsp raw cacao nibs

Preparation

Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender.

Blend until frothy and desired consistency.

Add in cacao nibs for last 10 seconds of blending for added texture. Crunch with benefits!

REFERENCES

Healthline: Adaptogenic Herbs: List, Effectiveness, and Health Benefits

Healthline: Smart Girl’s Guide to Adaptogens for Hormonal Balance and Stress

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2017: Understanding adaptogenic activity: specificity of the pharmacological action of adaptogens and other phytochemicals

Pharmaceuticals, 2010: Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress—Protective Activity

3 BIG Mistakes When Trying to CALM a Racing Mind and What to Do instead (hint: it’s NOT meditation)

You’ve had a long day and you finally climb into bed. Just as you take a few deep breaths and your body starts to relax, your mind revs up with a long list of all the things you forgot to do.

Does this sound familiar?

One of the biggest frustrations I hear from my clients is that they can’t seem to shut their brain off when it’s time.

I know for myself when I tried to calm my racing thoughts I made some big mistakes that led me in the wrong direction and resulted in more frustration and wasted time. So, I’m going to save you all that and tell you what I do now instead.

I went through this myself and the first mistake I made, is I thought that having a busy and out of control mind was normal. I thought that this was just how it was for busy entrepreneurs and that this is something I’d have to deal with for the rest of my career.

Which led me to make a 2nd big mistake which was pushing through. Because I thought that having racing thoughts and a hard time concentrating was normal, I’d resolved to push on and grind through my work, even when I wasn’t feeling well mentally.

I thought that if I could just focus more, maybe block out some distractions that I’d be able to get my work done anyway. I’d will myself to sit at my desk and get my work done. But if you’ve ever tried to problem solve when you’re feeling scatter brained you know that’s just an exercise in frustration.

Pushing through when you really do need a break only increases the amount of stress on your body. It keeps you in the fight or flight side of your nervous system and makes your body more acidic and prone to disease and infection. This is not a good solution over time, and it doesn’t feel good in the moment either.

My 3rd mistake came when I decided to try to do something about my racing thoughts. This is where meditation came in. When I’d be feeling flustered and scatter brained on a busy day, I’d set a timer for 10 minutes and try to get myself to sit still and be quiet, thinking this would calm my mind.

If you’ve ever tried to go from 100 miles an hour down to 0, you know this is not easily done. I would end up fidgeting, focusing back on my to-do list and the mental spirals would start again. Only this time they’d feel worse because I tried to do something about it and failed.

Finally I realized I wasn’t honouring what my body needed in those moments. I realized that I had so much energy coursing through me and my mind was so active, I needed an outlet for that energy, rather than to try to settle it down. I needed to MOVE. So that’s what I’ve learned to do now instead.

When you’re having a day where you feel like your mind is going in a million different directions, give yourself permission to get up from your desk and move. It doesn’t have to be much, but taking a walk, stretching, or doing a few yoga poses would help.

Here’s why this works… mental energy is similar to pent up physical energy. When you keep it contained it’s going to feel like a lot of pressure. But when you allow that energy to release through movement you relieve that pressure and change your mental and emotional state.

Try getting up and moving your body the next time you’re feeling mentally overwhelmed and let me know how it works for you.

How to Handle a Massive To-Do List Without Feeling Like a Failure

I can still remember a time when my life felt like a game of whack a mole… I would knock one thing off my task list, only to have 2 more things pop up that I’m supposed to have done by the end of the day. I constantly felt on edge and anxious like my incomplete tasks were looming over me everywhere I’d go.

Does this sound familiar?

If it does, you probably know the guilt that comes with having a full to-do list and letting things fall through the cracks.

If you’re juggling a what feels like a never-ending to-do list and seem to always wind up feeling like a failure for not getting everything done, this video is for you...

Constantly feeling overwhelmed by your tasks, or like you don’t measure up because you can’t complete them all takes its toll on your emotional and physical wellbeing.

I remember thinking to myself, how is it that I can have a thriving career where I’ve helped hundreds of people take control of their health, published a book, have a great relationship with my friends and family, and be “successful” by most standards yet somehow still manage to feel like I was inadequate? I was wracking my brain thinking What could possibly be missing?

If any of this sounds familiar, you’re probably like me… you’ve tried to get super organized, plan ahead in calendars and read books on time management but nothing’s working.

We can’t manufacture more hours in the day, but it turns out we don’t have to. I’m going to share with you something I realized. It was a total game-changer for me.

Let me ask you this… What’s truly more important to you, getting all your tasks done each day, or the way you feel about yourself at the end of the day?

Probably a bit of both, but I’d guess that the way you feel at the end of the day really would outweigh whether all of the clean socks made it into the proper drawer. Am I right?

That’s because, a lot of the things we have on our to-do lists are not matters of life and death importance. You can always put the socks away in the morning. So why waste time and energy feeling like a failure because it wasn’t done today?

Here’s something to think about… whether or not you get all of your tasks done in a day doesn’t change the essence of who you are. Yet, when you base your self-worth on how much you do, instead of on who you are, you end up feeling inadequate. This is a recipe to come up short every time.

But, when you realize that who you are remains constant no matter how much you do, you can choose more powerfully where you’re going to show up.  Then you can feel good about the things you give your time an energy to.  Because you know that eventually you’ll make it to putting the laundry away, and that leaving it undone for a day or two doesn’t make you a bad person.

Now I know you might be thinking this is easier said than done. It does take effort and a plan. That’s why I created the 90 Days to CALM program to help you focus on what matters to you most and learn techniques to de-stress, even when the laundry isn’t folded and put away. It comes down to knowing your values and prioritizing them, which we talk about in the program.

To see if you’d be a good fit to join the CALM community, inquire by emailing hello@selinarose.ca and so we can reach out to you with details.

The BIG Lie That Keeps You From Feeling Like the Boss In Your Life – And How to Get Past It

When I first started my business I was thrilled to have the freedom to work whenever I wanted. Yet there was a downside to that. I found myself working all the time because there was so much to do I felt like I couldn’t fit it all in.

On top of that, I hadn’t developed strong boundaries around my time so I felt pulled in a million different directions by my family, friends and clients.

After a long week, one particular tear-filled conversation with my partner gave me the perspective I needed to see how I’d been holding myself back. It was the same Big Lie that I see so many ambitious professionals telling themselves, which is why they’re staying stuck.

I was exhausted and I felt like no matter how much of myself I gave to my work or the people around me, it was never enough.

It was to the point where I started resenting my work, and my family and friends because so much of my time was going to them, I barely had any time for myself.

Then my partner looked at me and said something that would completely change my perspective. He said “maybe if you made more time for yourself you’d stop feeling so resentful of other people.”

Looking back now, I’m glad I reached that breaking point because a lot of powerful realizations came out of it. I was able to really understand what my clients were feeling.

Over the years I’ve watched hundreds of women put themselves last on their priority list only to wake up years later and wonder why they’re so exhausted and unhappy with their bodies.

So if you’re reading this and thinking “yup, Selina I do the same thing and I just don’t know how to stop” you’re in the right place.

Here’s the thing, as long as you keep thinking you need to be the one to do everything and look after everyone, you’re going to stay overwhelmed and exhausted. The demands on you and your time will continue to run your life.

But that’s where you’ve got it wrong. The big lie that keeps you from feeling like the boss in your life is the idea that you have to do everything yourself.

Here’s something to think about… what if instead of saying yes to everything that’s asked of you, and being the one to solve all the problems and do all the things, what if you stopped to really think about what needs to be done by you and separate that from what you could leave to someone else?

I know it’s hard to release control, it was a process for me too. But once I understood that I didn’t have to control everything around me, that I could delegate, say no, and even (this was the real scary one for me) ask for help—  that’s when things started to feel better. I was able to set better boundaries and make my self-care a priority on a regular basis instead of waiting for a health crisis to force me to slow down.

If you want to talk more about how you can get rid of overwhelm and start feeling more like the Boss in your life, book a breakthrough call with me. I’d love to talk more with you.

In my 90 Days to CALM Program we talk all about taking control of your time, your energy and prioritizing self-care so you can go from stressed out and overwhelmed to calm, focused and productive. Book a call with me if you want to know more.

It’s time to let go of the Big Lie that’s keeping you burnt out an exhausted and level up to become the Boss in your life.

How to Be Consistent with Your Health Habits

For the longest time, I felt extremely frustrated with myself and actually a bit ashamed that I couldn’t seem to keep up any sort of consistency with basic things like prepping healthy meals, getting to bed on time and exercising regularly.

I would set a start date and decide to focus but something would come up like a social event, or a project, and I’d put my commitment to myself on the back burner because whatever it was felt more important. Does this sound familiar?

If you’re looking to build consistency with your health habits but so far all you’ve been doing is setting goals and then having a bunch of stops and starts, I’m going to show you how you can get past that so you can see results from your efforts and actually have more energy to do the things you love.

Here’s something to think about…what if, instead of starting by setting big action goals for yourself, you started out by taking a step back to set an intention, plan and get control of your nervous system which is what allows you to be calm and focused?

It starts with your morning routine.

You might be thinking – Selina I want to go to yoga after work, what does this have to do with my morning?

Here’s why this works… when you have a morning routine that allows you to get organized and set intentions for your day you’ve taken time that day to prioritize and presence yourself to your goal.

Your morning routine allows you to:

  • Build time into your morning routine to get prepared with things you’ll need to act toward your goal (e.g.: bringing your workout clothes with you to work).
  • Foresee any obstacles to you taking your desired action and plan ahead or ask for support if necessary.
  • Set an intention for the actions you want to take for the day and your desired outcomes
  • Connect with why taking those actions are important so you can be focused and motivated by what drives you in the moment.

Taking action toward your goal actually begins way before it’s time to do the specific thing. When you start your day with a morning routine that gets you centered and focused you can be prepared to take the actions you want to take for the day.

This made a huge difference for me and my clients have put this into action and reaped the benefits as well. Consistency increases when you’re prepared and ready for the day.