Tips to support stress & nervous tension

Stress and worry are common health concerns of many individuals. Stress is your body’s reaction to harmful or threatening situations whether they are real or not and triggers a chemical reaction to occur in your body known as the ‘fight or flight’ response. Stress may present as feeling overwhelmed, experiencing low mood/energy, sleeplessness, head & neck tension and racing thoughts.

Prolonged periods of stress and nervous tension with the ongoing worry or fear that something bad is going to happen can start to impact your day-to-day life and may present with feelings of fatigue, restlessness, sweating and sleep issues.

Insights into a national study undertaken in New Zealand in 2021 showed rates of poor mental wellbeing had risen significantly across many age groups [1].

Indicators of nervous tension

Stress impacts each person differently. Some common indicators of stress include:

  • Irritability
  • Difficult focusing on tasks
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Low mood/energy
  • Sleeplessness
  • Head and neck tension
  • Racing thoughts 
  • Loss of appetite

Causes of stress and nervous tension

Everything in your internal and external environments, the food you eat, the exercise you do, the thoughts you think impact your nervous system. When you encounter a stressor and your brain decides that you are in danger (whether this be a real threat or perceived threat), it sends a signal which causes the hormones adrenaline and cortisol to be released. These hormones help your body react and respond to stress and can cause any of the indicators listed above.

Common causes of stress include:

  • Feeling under lots of pressure
  • Facing big changes in your life
  • Financial worries
  • Lack of control over a situation
  • Being unhappy or unfulfilled in life
  • Traumatic events

If you are struggling with ongoing stress & worry, it’s important to speak with your healthcare professional for supportive therapy and advice during these times and beyond.

Managing stress & nervous tension

It’s likely at some stage in your life you have experienced either stress or nervous tension and whilst you can’t always change the factors contributing to these, you can support your body to adapt to stress and nervous tension through some simple dietary and lifestyle changes.

Top foods to support stress and nervous tension:

  • B Vitamins - B vitamins are responsible for supporting your nervous system’s response to stress.
  • Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale. These vegetables are an amazing source of magnesium which is a mineral responsible for modulating activity of the body’s stress-response system.
  • Salmon – is a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids which are needed to support optimal brain health.
  • Avocados – well known as a source of healthy fats, avocados also contain stress adapting B vitamins.
  • Dark chocolate – some researchers have found dark chocolate as an effective way of coping with perceived stress in females [2]. It also provides magnesium (an essential mineral for your nervous system and stress response).

Avoid excess caffeine, alcohol and sugary foods as these can all contribute to variations in your energy levels making stress worse.

Top lifestyle tips to support stress & nervous tension:

If you are prone to experiencing stress and worry, incorporating a few self-care practices throughout the day can have a positive impact on your overall health and wellbeing. Try the following:

  • 10-15 minutes of meditation per day
  • A daily walk-in nature
  • Get creative – draw, dance, sing
  • Journal
  • Try an aromatherapy air diffuser with scents such as Lavender.

Thompson’s Herbal Favourites for Supporting Stress & Nervous Tension

Various herbs are traditionally used to support the stress response in individuals.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) has been used for thousands of years. It is used in traditional Western herbal practice to support the bodies stress response.

St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is also used in traditional Western herbal practice to support nervous system health. St John’s Wort can also be effective in supporting healthy mood balance.

Looking for extra support to help manage your stress and worry? Thompson’s Stress & Sleep range has been mastered to support you through these times.

Always read the label and use as directed. If symptoms persist see your healthcare professional. Integria, Auckland


[1] New Zealanders’ mental wellbeing declines | Stats NZ