Modify Your Mindset

The unconventional guide to modifying your mindset by improving your ability to adapt to stress.

Your mindset determines the type of results you get in life. It can affect your mood, your energy levels, and even your longevity. Imagine trying to change your mindset if you are feeling irritable, tired and are still reeling from a stressful situation?

According to the American Psychological Association, the share of Americans (3 out of 4) reported experiencing at least one stress symptom in the last month:

  • 45% report lying awake at night
  • 36% report feeling nervous or anxious
  • 35% report irritability or anger
  • 34% report fatigue due to stress1

The key to changing your mindset is by being able to easily adapt by feeling good, sleeping well and having appropriate energy throughout your day.

There are different ways to change your mindset so that you can see life differently and get into a happier mood. Hormones play an important role in being able to achieve this. Your brain is the command center of all hormones and they set the tone for how you feel throughout each day. In this article, we will focus on the adrenal hormone cortisol.

Deep inside your brain you have an endocrine gland called the hypothalamus. Your hypothalamus communicates with your adrenal glands to produce cortisol to balance blood sugar and energy production, normalize inflammation and stabilize your mood.

Cortisol should be highest in the morning to feel refreshed and lowest in the evening to be ready for quality sleep. But with adrenal insufficiency, free hormone tests can show the opposite where cortisol is flipped, lowest in the morning and highest at night. 

Take the Stress Assess Survey

Understanding Anxiety, Stress and Fatigue at the Cellular Level

We cannot talk about stress without giving credit to Dr. Hans Selye. He coined the word "stress" and was prolific in his pursuit to not only explain what stress was but to build a model based on thousands of animal studies.

Over a 50 year career, his team wrote more than 40 books and 1700 publications, and his General Adaptation Curve is the standard to show how a person loses the ability to adapt to chronic stress.

Dr. Selye spoke a few different languages and he went on to say that one of his biggest regrets was that the translation of the word "stress" wasn't exactly accurate at the very start of his work.

Dr. Selye meant to say "strain". From a practical standpoint, "strain" is a better word to describe how someone feels. When an individual has tons of tasks, emotions, professional priorities, and family obligations, they feel like they're literally getting torn apart.

This strain on the body is best described by understanding the General Adaptation Syndrome. 

Using General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) to Understand Your Stress Response

The General Adaptation Syndrome Graph showcases how the body adapts to stress over time. There are three different phases that the body goes through as it tries to return to homeostasis after the initial stressor. 

Phases of Stress Response:

  • Alarm Phase - Acute stress (in days)
  • Resistance Phase - Chronic stress (in months)
  • Exhaustion Phase - Chronic stress (in years)

Nutrients and Adaptogenic Herbs Stabilize Stress 

Adaptogenic herbs and nutrients help modify the stress response. They prolong the resistance phase, protect from chronic stress and provide energy when needed most.

According to a research paper entitled, Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress—Protective Activity,  "Adaptogens increase the state of non-specific resistance in stress and decrease sensitivity to stressors, which results in stress protection, and prolong the phase of resistance (stimulatory effect). Instead of exhaustion, a higher level of equilibrium (the homeostasis) is attained the heterostasis. The higher it is, the better the adaptation to stress. Thus, the stimulating and anti-fatigue effect of adaptogens has been documented in both in animals and in humans."2

What Phase Are You In?

Phase 1 - Alarm Reaction

Your body responds to stress in stages. During the alarm reaction (also called fight-or-flight), your heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure increase; your body releases hormones like adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol; and you experience feelings of fear and anxiety that can result in physical symptoms like an increased pulse.

Foundational Nutrient Support for Adrenal Glands

Support your adrenal glands with foundational nutrient support. Vitamins A, B and C from food sources such as liver, mushrooms, rice bran, alfalfa and nutritional yeast are helpful for maintaining energy production and mood.

We cannot overemphasize how important regular B-vitamin intake is because much of the b-complex is water soluble (and flushes quickly through the body) and is also used for blood sugar balancing by multiple glands (including the pancreas). Therefore, while you are recovering, regular b-vitamin supplementation will help.

The adrenals store more vitamin C than any other gland. Vitamin C is important in the stress response. We recommend supplements with buckwheat, known to have high amounts of rutin, part of the vitamin C complex. This part of the C-Complex is prized for vascular integrity (think bruising and slow healing).

Phase 2 - Resistance

The resistance phase begins after the alarm reaction ends, when your body starts to recover. At this point, your heart rate and blood pressure decrease back to normal levels, your hormone levels return to baseline, and you begin to calm down.

If you continue to experience chronic stress, then you feel wired and tired. Instead of recovering, you continue to deplete your nutrient reserves. Your body continues to create lots of cortisol, but now pays the price. At these high levels, cortisol goes from an anabolic (building) hormone to a catabolic (breaking-down) hormone. 

Herbal Support for Chronic Stress

Are you running out of “GAS”? If so, then this is a perfect time to talk about adaptogenic herbs.

When looking at a stressed-out individual, it helps to understand what phase of the General Adaptation Syndrome they are in. If they are in the acute and resistance phase, adaptogens are key. If they are in the exhaustion phase, they need energy right away, so tonics are best. Some people are "Wired and Tired" so herbs that are both an adaptogen and tonic are helpful.

Herbal tonics that increase or release adaptation energy:

Are you running out of “GAS”? If so, then this is a perfect time to talk about adaptogenic herbs.

When looking at a stressed-out individual, it helps to understand what phase of the General Adaptation Syndrome they are in. If they are in the acute and resistance phase, adaptogens are key. If they are in the exhaustion phase, they need energy right away, so tonics are best. Some people are "Wired and Tired" so herbs that are both an adaptogen and tonic are helpful.

Herbal tonics that increase or release adaptation energy:

  • Korean Ginseng
  • Licorice
  • Rehmannia

Adaptogenic herbs that conserve adaptation energy:

  • Korean Ginseng
  • Eleuthero
  • Ashwagandha
  • Rhodiola

Adaptogenic and tonifying herbs combine to:

  • support mental clarity and cognitive function
  • promote vitality and stamina
  • help maintain proper energy
  • support physical endurance
  • maintain feelings of general well-being when experiencing temporary stress
  • help the body adapt to the changes in everyday life
  • support and maintain the body as it ages
  • support the body's natural defenses against stress

Phase 3 - Exhaustion

When people are under a lot of stress, they could be in the final phase of the GAS, aka the Exhaustion Phase.

This is where the body is dangerously low on energy and nutrient reserves and the individual is having a really hard time making social, family, and work obligations. 

Whole Gland Support

Glandular extracts, also called "Desiccates" are whole gland products, without the hormones. They are often referred to as "replacement parts" and used as part of supplement plans for individuals who need short-term support (i.e. rescue remedies).

They are often paired with adaptogenic tonic herbs for individuals in advanced stages of stress. 

Take the Stress Assess Survey

Simple Lifestyle Changes Make BIG Changes

You can quickly change your mindset by incorporating simple lifestyle changes that include an anti-inflammatory diet, low-impact exercise with deep-breathing sessions, scheduled time for sleep and times without screens, along with an appropriate nutrient and herb plan based on your Stress Assess Score.

Incorporate an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

The anti-inflammatory diet contains mostly healthy fats, nutrient-dense foods, complex carbohydrates, legumes and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Processed foods, excess added sugars, refined grains (like white bread and white flour) and red meat are limited to once or twice a week. The goal of this healthy diet is to reduce chronic inflammation in the body.

Reduce Screen Time and Set a Sleep Schedule 

It's been well established that reducing night time screen time helps reduce chronic stress. According to a recent literary review, which concluded that digital device usage, specifically at night times, negatively impacted the quality of sleep, anxiety causes, feelings of depression, and issues related to self-esteem, as well as physical effects in individuals.3

Deep Breathing and Low Impact Exercise

Deep breathing exercises will relax and calm you while increasing blood flow to your brain. According to a recent study from 2017, deep breathing improved sustained attention with reduced cortisol levels. Deep breathing is so easy, anyone can do it.4

Simply perform a 15-minute resting breathing session and then follow that with a 15-minute deep-breathing session. For your resting period, try slow-breathing with relaxing music at a breathing rate of 6 breaths/min. During the deep-breathing session, try for an average respiratory rate of 4 breaths/min. Set a goal for twice a day for 8 weeks.

Low-impact exercise such as yoga or walking will strengthen your muscles and bones while reducing stress. It is important to not overdo exercise if your cortisol is elevated over long periods of time because cortisol can inflame muscle and ligaments which can become damaged and injured. Try for 30 minutes a day while you are recovering from stress. 

Take the Stress Assess Survey

The Stress Assess Survey

Complete this 2-minute, 20-question survey designed to help determine the amount of stress you are currently experiencing. The questions are scored from 0 to 5 points, tabulated, indicating your current stress level.

After you complete the survey, click "Submit Survey" and you will be redirected towards the appropriate supplement plan.