How calm do you feel right now? If you’re anything like 74% of us in the UK, feeling calm and peaceful isn’t something we tend to gravitate towards easily. Research from the 2018 Mental Health Foundation study shows that almost three quarters of the UK population felt so stressed at some point in the year that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.
 Stress tends to impact women more than men , 49% of young people reported that comparing themselves to others caused stress , whilst more than 10% stated that feeling the need to respond to texts and messages instantly was a stressor too.  If this research was from 2018, there’s no denying we’ve accumulated a few more stressors in the past few years since the pandemic, as well as the various local and global issues that affect all of us on different levels.
Stress is something we hear so much today, it has become our ‘new normal’. Feeling ‘stressed’ is almost expected, put up with, and used as an everyday response when we’re asked; ‘how are you?’. Stress can even be addictive due to the different hormones it produces, which means feeling calmer can be even more difficult for those who find it difficult to wind down.  Despite the fact that we’ve become accustomed to stress as a ‘normal’ response to everyday life, it’s actually not a normal way to live, and it can have long-term health consequences.
How Stress Impacts Your Body
In the short term, stress is actually a good thing. We need little bursts of stress every so often to maintain a strong immune system, to help heal and recover from physical exercise or injury, as well as increasing cognitive function, motivation and resilience. You’ve probably heard of the ‘fight or flight’ response before. This is when we experience a stressor (such as a work presentation or public speaking task) and the body jumps into action, ready to fight or flee the situation. Our brains aren’t much different to the way they were thousands of years ago when we were fighting and fleeing predators or rival tribes – the difference today is that our stressors are much less harmful, yet much more chronic. When we experience this ‘fight or flight’ response, the following thing happen:
- Blood pressure rises
- Blood sugar levels increase
- Breathing rate increases
- Sweating increases
- Heart rate rises
- Digestion is suppressed
In the short term, these are all positive things – we don’t want our bodies to need to go to the toilet if we’re in the middle of a fight or running from danger…..
The problem occurs when we find ourselves in a chronic state of fight or flight, which many of us do today. When stress is left to go on too long without a pause, this can result in:
- High blood pressure
- Pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes
- Hormonal Imbalances
- Weight gain
As well as issues like heart disease, stroke and higher likelihood of developing types of cancer… 
This is obviously not good. However, there is good news – we have the ability to move out of chronic stress and the ‘fight or flight’ response, and into the ‘rest and digest’ response, where our bodies recover, rebalance, and we generally feel a lot calmer. If you’re feeling stressed, there are a few simple things you can start doing today to calm your nervous system and move towards a more relaxed state:
How To Feel Calmer
- Breathe better: breathing is a direct way to influence the nervous system. When we’re breathing in a slow, calm manner, this communicates to the brain and nervous system that we’re safe to relax. Practice breathing in for a count of 5 and out for a count of 6, as a longer exhale helps slow the heartbeat. Even better if you can breathe through your nose as opposed to your mouth.
- Exercise: Movement is a great way to diffuse stored stress and almost mimics the way we would fight or flee from a stressful situation, thus telling the brain we’ve escaped danger and can relax. It’s important not to workout for too long however, as this can then have a detrimental affect by increasing cortisol (the stress hormone), so stick to anywhere from 30 to 75 minutes ideally.
- Use your voice: Humming and singing works with the vagus nerve to relax the brain and body, so put on your favourite song and belt it out. Speaking to someone about how you feel can also be incredibly cathartic and a valuable way to release stress – it could be a friend, family member or therapist, but talking about how you feel is a powerful way to feel calmer.
Another vitally important thing we can to do feel calmer is to improve our sleep. Good sleep is important for maintaining a healthy brain, balanced blood sugar, good mood levels, vibrant energy, as well as helping regulate our stress tolerance. A poor night’s sleep can make us far less tolerant and resilient to stress than we would be on any other day, and if you’re chronically sleep deprived or are simply not getting good quality sleep each night, you’re probably feeling way more stressed than you would be with better sleep.
You can read more on how to improve your sleep quality in THIS blog, but as well as lifestyle tips, herbs, supplements and botanicals can work wonders not just for enhancing our sleep, but feeling calmer too. This is where the Calm supplement comes in, with specific ingredients designed to calm the mind and bring the body into a balanced state, as well as improving sleep. Here, we’ll dive into the key ingredients and why they’re so beneficial.
Calm Botanicals & Their Benefits
Organic KSM-66 Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is an ancient herb from the Ayurvedic tradition, and has been used for thousands of years as an adaptogen – meaning it helps us adapt to and overcome stress. Ashwagandha has been shown in clinical studies to reduce stress and anxiety, improve memory and cognitive function, and promote strength and endurance in athletes. Ashwagandha can also rebalance the effects of chronic stress by lowering blood sugar, reducing cortisol, reducing symptoms of depression, and reducing inflammation.
An amino acid found primarily in green and black tea and some mushrooms, L-Theanine can help ease stress and anxiety, as well as reducing insomnia. It can also reduce some of the symptoms of stress by lowering heart rate and blood pressure too.Chamomile Flower
Chamomile has long been known as a calming herb, but it also has other benefits such as helping treat diabetes, reducing inflammation, inducing relaxation and sleep, as well as treating menstrual pain in women.Magnesium
You may have heard of magnesium’s benefits before, as it’s such a valuable mineral for us to take, especially if you’re suffering from stress and tension. Magnesium should occur naturally in foods like leafy greens, nuts and cocoa, but due to the depleted mineral levels in our modern soil, foods now have much lower levels of vitamins and minerals than they did even 50 years ago. Magnesium helps our muscles and nervous system relax, aids in sleep, promotes healthy bones, and is involved in hundreds of other reactions in the body. When we’re stressed, our magnesium levels actually become depleted, which is why we need this mineral especially if we want to feel calmer.
Originating in Western parts of Africa, Griffonia seeds contain a molecule known as 5-hydroxytryptophan (HTP), which is commonly used to treat depression, anxiety, headaches, and insomnia.  HTP helps raise levels of the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin in the brain, helping us not only feel calm, but happier too. Lemon Balm
This lemon-scented herb belongs to the same family as mint, and is native to Europe, North Africa, and West Asia.  Historically used to treat anxiety, stress and sleep disorders, it can also help improve cognitive function and digestion. Lavender
As well as smelling and looking beautiful, lavender is a powerful herb for inducing sound sleep, reducing pain, reducing blood pressure and heart rate, and lessening menopausal hot flashes.  Lavender is known for calming the mind, which is why it’s also used so often in essential oil blends and massage balms.Valerian Root
The valerian root has been used in traditional medicine as far back as ancient Rome and Greece. The most common use for this herb is to treat sleep disorders and insomnia, so it’s a great choice for anyone who needs to improve their sleep quality.  Scientists also believe valerian increases the brain’s levels of GABA, helping regulate nerve cells and reducing anxiety.  Similarly to Griffonia seed, valerian can increase levels of serotonin in the brain too, improving mood and optimism.
Combined, this powerful blend of herbs can act as a valuable tool for moving us out of chronic stress and into a calmer state. As well as using the lifestyle tips, try taking Calm before bed to improve sleep, or as needed in the day. What are your favourite stress-reducing tips? We’d love to know how you stay calm, and how you’re enjoying this botanical blend.