I took a sharp trip down memory lane last week as I wandered around my daughter’s high school for parent’s evening. As we passed the exam hall, I noticed individual desks neatly spaced in rows and a flipchart detailing the day’s exam start and finish time. I was surprised how quickly I was taken back, not just to a mental picture of my own school exam hall, but to associated feelings of nerves and apprehension too.
Tests and exams can be incredibly stressful, and whilst a bit of stress can be a motivating force, if levels spiral out of control they can get in the way of you doing your best on the day. The good news is there’s a lot you can do to help maintain a more balanced stress response, both right in the midst of exam panic, and more long-term strategies too.
If you’re looking for a quick practical strategy to keep you calm in those heart-racing minutes just before an exam, make sure you don’t miss this great advice from Mandy Pearson as she shares a very simple process that will instantly help you to calm down and cope better.
In this article, we look at the 5 key nutrients that support a balanced stress response and help your body to cope better when those moments do arise. And it’s never too late to start incorporating these key nutrients into your diet. The great thing about calming nutrients like magnesium and l-theanine is that they have pretty immediate effects and can be used effectively as a short-term boost too.
Magnesium has to be the number one calming nutrient. Often nicknamed ‘nature’s tranquiliser’, magnesium can have an instantly calming effect. Unfortunately, magnesium is often completely lacking from a typical Western diet and is used up in huge amounts during times of stress. Magnesium is found in high levels in leafy green vegetables so make sure you include plenty in your diet. This mineral is best supplemented in a powdered form of magnesium glycinate as this can be taken in higher amounts, is highly bioavailable and is generally better tolerated than other forms. Supplementation with magnesium glycinate can help to restore levels of this crucial mineral and can lead to feelings of almost instant calm.
2) B vitamins
This important complex of water-soluble nutrients are a vital component of a healthy functioning nervous system. B vitamins are found in fresh, wholefoods and are often lacking from a typical Western diet. Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is particularly important, as it is needed for the balanced production of stress hormones. The B complex vitamins are used up rapidly during stress and can help to support a calmer state.
An amino acid found naturally in tea, which has been shown to have a soothing and calming effect. Unfortunately tea also contains caffeine, which can have the opposite effect. You can take L-theanine in supplement form to experience its gentle benefits in isolation.
This little referred to, naturally occurring, non-essential amino acid has an important role in the sleep cycle. It has been found to be particularly useful for those prone to waking in the middle of the night and may help to support restful sleep, an important aspect of general feelings of calm and wellbeing.
5) Vitamin C
This essential nutrient is found in very high concentrations in the adrenal glands and helps you to deal with stress. A daily dose of vitamin C as mineral ascorbates may have a calming effect on the nervous system.