What happens when you get stressed?
Many jobs and ways of life present people with a large amount of stress on a daily basis, but this time of year is especially stressful for students who have ominous deadlines looming just around the corner. The effects of this stress on the body can be worse than they appear on the surface, and can actually lead to further complications including illness, headaches, high blood-pressure, and issues sleeping . In order to deal with increased stress levels our body releases cortisol – the fight or flight hormone. Cortisol focuses the body towards processes important in a life or death scenario, and temporarily halts those that are not. While this would be very useful if you’re running away from a bear, it’s not so useful if you’re 30 minutes away from your dissertation deadline as several cognitive processes are affected. Specifically, the area of the brain responsible for thinking clearly and carrying out purposeful goal-directed behaviour is affected, which makes it very difficult to pay attention and organise your thoughts .
How does your body combat this?
Cortisol levels are regulated by the level of serotonin in the body, but serotonin is also depleted by stress and bad eating habits  (no, sorry, that that diet of red bull and dominoes isn’t that good for you). In fact, serotonin deficiency can lead to cravings for food containing L-tryptophan (a source of serotonin) such as chocolate, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, meat, fish, and peanuts, which can lead to obesity and even depression (as well as a lighter wallet).
How can we help?
It may come as unwelcome news to the hordes of smokers outside of university library doors, but many recreational activities like smoking or drinking that people often do to reduce stress actually keep the body in a stressed state and cause more problems . But there are very simple steps than can be taken to combat stress. Regular exercise, yoga, social activities, and meditation can have dramatic effects on your stress levels, and help you manage them long term. If you’re looking for a more immediate effect, Brainfeed can help you there too. Even though the body can’t produce enough serotonin to regulate cortisol when stressed, supplements are available that have been clinically shown to boost serotonin levels which would lead to lower levels of cortisol. 5-htp is a great supplement that is the direct precursor to serotonin (5-ht) . Not only this, but 5-htp benefits also include increased production of melatonin – the sleep hormone – which leads to further stress relief by allowing for a proper night’s sleep. Brain feed offer high quality 100mg tablets at prices starting from £12.99. Click here to find out more.