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Independent health store advice on how to deal with work- and exam-related stress, anxiety and fatigue

Looking for advice on natural health and wellbeing? Your local independent health stores can offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise. This issue we speak to Shell Gavin of health store Wild Poppy in Clane, Co Kildare

Maintaining a healthy stress balance is easier said than done. Sometimes the best we can expect to achieve, is to aim to avoid stress reaching overwhelming levels.

Morning habits

We can try our best to do this through acknowledging the stress, addressing it and over time learning to regulate those physiological and psychological responses, the 'fight or flight' response, as best we can.

There are some great supplements available that target stress in the body. These include omegas to support the brain and cognitive function; probiotics to support the gut, as beneficial bacteria can influence mood and adaptogens. Also known as nature's stress busters, these are now widely used across the world to combat stress and support mood regulation.

But first let's focus on what is widely regarded as an essential mineral that helps to relieve stress and plays a key role in the functioning of our overall health. Often hailed as a natural stress-reliever, magnesium plays a pivotal role in promoting mental well-being and managing stress levels. Magnesium is involved in the regulation of neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine, which are key players in mood regulation. Additionally, magnesium helps modulate the body's stress response by regulating cortisol levels, the hormone associated with stress. Its calming effects extend to the central nervous system, where magnesium acts as a natural muscle relaxant, soothing tension and promoting a sense of tranquility. Adequate magnesium intake has also been linked to improved sleep quality, another crucial factor in stress management. Simply put, maintaining optimal good quality magnesium levels can contribute significantly to a more resilient and stress-resistant mind.

Alongside magnesium here are the other supplements to consider adding to your stress-busting wellbeing shopping list:

Omega-3 – fuel for the brain. Omega 3 fatty acids are hugely important for cognitive function. The human body can make most of the types of fats it needs from other fats or carbohydrates. That isn't the case for omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. These are essential fats for brain and eye health and help with energy.

Probiotics – support that gut-brain connection. There are numerous studies on the fascinating link between gut health and mental well-being. Beneficial bacteria in the gut can influence mood and the stress response.

Adaptogens – nature's stress busters. Adaptogens are natural substances that help the body adapt to stressors, promoting balance and resilience. Popular adaptogens include rhodiola, ashwagandha and holy basil. Adaptogens regulate the body's stress response by supporting the adrenal glands and modulating cortisol levels.

Did somebody say a good cup of tea?

Alongside being a comforting beverage, another stress busting option that is sometimes overlooked is a great tea. Tea offers a myriad of benefits for stress relief. Various types of tea, such as green tea, black tea, and herbal infusions, contain compounds that can have a calming effect on the mind and body.

Green tea, for instance, is rich in L-Theanine, an amino acid known to promote relaxation and reduce stress without inducing drowsiness. Herbal teas like chamomile and peppermint are celebrated for their soothing properties, helping to alleviate tension and induce a sense of tranquility.

The act of sipping tea itself can also be a mindful ritual, providing a moment of respite and allowing individuals to step away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Moreover, the warm liquid can have a physically calming effect, easing muscle tension. By incorporating tea into a daily routine, you not only enjoy a delicious and comforting beverage but also access a natural and holistic approach to managing stress levels.

During those times, when the demands of life intensify, it is crucial to prioritise mental well-being and manage stress levels. While supplements can provide valuable support, they should always complement a healthy lifestyle that includes proper nutrition, regular exercise and sufficient sleep. Remember, before incorporating any new supplements into your routine, it's also advisable to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure they align with your individual needs and circumstances.

Who's who and what's what at Wild Poppy in Clane, Co Kildare

"We opened Wild Poppy nearly five years ago," says owner Shell Gavin. "The shop is an old cottage with plenty of charm and real character. We are the only health store in Clane and in the wider area, and we also have an online store and ship nationwide.

"This is a real family business – I am in the shop most of the time, and my husband Joe works with me two days a week. My aunt also lives locally and helps out too. We get lovely feedback from our customers and were delighted to be shortlisted for an award last year for our customer service. We also signed up last year for the Going Green initiative with Kildare Co Council Enterprise Board and passed with flying colours. We need to plant 40 trees this spring, and then we will be carbon neutral.

"We don't carry every range, but go for quality products that match the needs of our customer base – the ethics of a brand are also extremely important to me. We try to support Irish brands as much as possible and stock a small but select range of products.

"Most of our customers are women, a combination of those who understand their health and want clean products, women who want to manage the health of their family and those who have complex health issues. We spend a lot of time trying to source the right products for our customers, and work with our nutritional therapist Virginia to find the right fit for our customers' needs.

"Our food is specialised for our vegan and coeliac customers and we are always trying to find new treats they can enjoy! We specialise in supplements, essential oils and cruelty-free and natural skincare ranges. We have a great range of herbal teas. Last year we also converted some of the shop into a Gothic gift store, and we now stock spell candles, sage, tarot cards, crystals and pendulums and fun gifts.

"We send out a monthly newsletter to our customers with tips, recipes from Virginia and product offers. Every newsletter also offers 10% off any order, with no restrictions and we get great feedback on the newsletter"

VISIT: Wild Poppy on Main Street, Clane, Co Kildare
SPEAK TO: Owner Shell Gavin and nutritional therapist Virginia Ziulu
PHONE: 086 8554261
ORDER ONLINE: Delivery is local and all over the country
OPEN: Mon-Wed 10am-5.30pm, Thurs-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-5pm

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