By Dr. Stan Headley, natural health consultant for Cypress Pharmacy
The new year brings the promise of a fresh start. Yet, while many are feeling joyful and recharged after the holiday season, others have found that financial demands, family obligations and altered traditions have been a source of added stress compounded with the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With isolation, anxiety and worry over health concerns and job loss due to the pandemic, it’s no surprise some are struggling to find a renewed outlook for the year ahead. While managing the pressures and stresses of life looks different for each person, we must make the commitment to take extra care of our minds and bodies in 2021.
About 16.1 million adult Americans suffer from major depression, and approximately 40 million struggle with anxiety disorders. The pandemic has also led to higher rates of depression, with a recent study reporting that the number of U.S. adults experiencing depressive symptoms has tripled compared to before the pandemic.
Many who are suffering with stress, anxiety and depression are turning to natural solutions for helping ease symptoms and improve their mental states.
Full-spectrum, pharmaceutical-grade CBD, or cannabidiol, continues to rise as a popular natural approach for calming stress, anxiety and depression. Derived from the hemp plant, CBD works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is made up of receptors that act as messengers to give your body specific directions in regulating anxiety, depression, appetite/hunger, mood, sleep and more. We have cell receptors everywhere in our bodies, and external sources like CBD can help to balance and maintain the ECS by binding to the brain receptors responsible for controlling your nerves, which keep you feeling less anxious and more in control.
The quality of CBD is a key factor in its effectiveness, so consumers must ensure that they are purchasing CBD products from a trusted source. The amount of CBD oil in a product will have a direct effect on its efficacy, and the methods used to manufacture CBD oil will impact the safety and quality of products you might buy. A knowledgeable health care professional can provide guidance on product quality and safety as well as formulation selection, drug interactions, usage and application.
Additional steps for enhancing mental health include:
- Get moving. In addition to its many physical health benefits, exercise is also an all-natural mood booster. Exercise releases endorphins that help us feel good, which play a key role in enhancing our mental outlook.
- Get enough sleep. Getting the proper amount of sleep is a critical factor for health and wellness, especially when navigating symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Balance your diet. Maintaining a balanced diet is a major step to helping reduce stress. Follow a diet that is rich in vegetables, fruit, meat, fish and whole grains, and remember to drink enough water.
- Consider supplements, including probiotics. Probiotics provide a safe, powerful way to help alleviate some of the symptoms regarding anxiety and depression when taken daily. They have also been shown to boost overall mood and outlook. Additional supplements, including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, amino acids, iron, GABA and CoQ10, can also help provide a mental health boost.
While natural solutions can help mitigate some of the effects of stress, it’s important to speak with a trusted medical professional or pharmacist about changes to your health care regimen to determine any risks, interactions or unwanted side effects with other medications you may be taking.
Feeling our best helps us be better prepared to handle life’s stressful situations. With a new year ahead, developing practices that support our mental and physical health offers a great fresh start.