School bells are ringing again around the country as we enter the back-to-school season. It’s an exciting time of the year with new routines, school supply shopping, and loads of prep and planning.

But for parents and kids, teachers, and college students heading back to campus, back-to-school season can also induce a lot of stress.

Stress is normal... until it is not 

Put simply, stress is how our body reacts to a change or an event – which is not necessarily a bad thing. You have probably heard of the fight-or-flight response – that is basically the stress response.

It was designed to protect us from danger by stimulating the brain, the adrenal glands, our muscles, and much of the rest of our body to respond to a perceived emergency. In some situations, like prepping for a test or starting a new school routine, stress helps motivate us to prepare and adapt for the upcoming change.

The problem is, as an entire society, we are more stressed-out than ever before. According to the most recent American Psychological Association survey, stress is running at alarmingly high levels across all age groups.

We are stressed from trying to balance various aspects of modern life – home, school, work, family, friends, children, health, money, relationships, diet, digital overload, etc. – and the balancing act is causing stress overload.

That is when stress can become dangerous. Chronic, long-term stress is, without a doubt, bad for our health. And because each person reacts to stress differently, stress can affect a person’s health in ways that can be very prominent or hardly noticeable at all.

Chronic stress can:

  • Affect hormones like cortisol, which accelerates your heart rate, increases muscle tension, alters immune system functionality, elevates blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, and contributes to obesity
  • Cause unhealthy coping habits, such as overeating (especially junk food), skipping meals, self-medicating with alcohol, smoking, sleeplessness, and irritability
  • Impact GI health, metabolism, mental health, and emotional health

Am I doing enough to manage my stress?

In most cases, a certain amount of stress is okay, as long as it remains at a level you can healthfully manage. But when stress exceeds a certain level, it can become harmful. The added stress associated with going back to school and engaging in a more regimented routine underscores the importance of stress management.

How well are you managing your stress? Taking a quick at-home stress test is a good place to start. Thorne’s Stress Test uses saliva samples to measure the two primary adrenal gland markers of stress – cortisol and DHEA. In addition to the test results, you will get a personalized plan for your diet, lifestyle, and (if indicated) supplements to help you manage stress.

Stress support supplements

In addition to healthy lifestyle habits, like eating nutritional foods, drinking lots of water, and getting regular exercise and restful sleep, certain supplements support the body’s response to stress. Here are seven supplements to help manage stress during the back-to-school season.

  1. Memoractiv™
    Thorne’s Memoractiv is an ideal formula for overwhelmed students, stressed-out teachers, and parents looking to maintain their mental edge and focus as school resumes. This nootropic is a special blend of unique herbal extracts and special nutrients that support productivity, creativity, and mental focus, while promoting a feeling of well-being and helping the eyes filter light from blue screens.* Planning an all-nighter to study for a test or grade papers? Memoractiv also contains a unique form of sustained-release, low-dose caffeine to promote alertness and concentration.*
  2. Hemp Oil +
    What is hemp oil? Looking for a safe and effective way to balance your body’s response to stress and anxious feelings? Thorne’s Hemp Oil + is a synergistic blend of phytocannabinoids that supports and regulates one of the body's most important, yet little-known, systems — the endocannabinoid system.* By nourishing this system, Hemp Oil + benefits users by relieving stress, easing discomfort, and even improving gut health.* It can also be paired with Memoractiv for a more comprehensive approach to improve mental focus.*
  3. Adrenal Cortex
    Stress and the hormones related to stress take a toll on your adrenal glands. Adrenal Cortex supports healthy adrenal function because it promotes a balanced stress response.* It’s formulated with a unique extract from adrenal cortex tissue, which plays a valuable role in supporting healthy adrenal glands – while also helping maintain immune function and promoting an energetic feeling.*
  4. Relora Plus 
    Help curb habitual stress-eating habits and decrease anxious feelings with this blend of two botanicals (used in the practice of traditional Chinese Medicine for more than 1,500 years) and six essential B vitamins.* Relora Plus supports restful sleep and balances cortisol and DHEA levels.*
  5. Stress-B Complex
    Thorne’s Stress B-Complex contains an optimal balance of essential B vitamins, with extra pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) to support healthy adrenal and immune functions.*
  6. Rhodiola 
    Rhodiola, a stress-relieving botanical, has been extensively studied in Europe for 35 years and is categorized as an adaptogen because of its ability to increase resistance to chemical, biological, and physical stressors.* It supports neurotransmitters that enhance mood, sleep, and mental focus.*
  7. PharmaGABA-250
    Thorne’s PharmaGABA-250 supports healthy stress management and a good night’s sleep.* PharmaGABA is formulated with a natural source of the inhibitory neurotransmitter – GABA. A study concluded that the natural GABA in PharmaGABA increased the brain’s relaxing alpha-wave production while decreasing stress-related beta waves – creating a profound sense of physical relaxation while maintaining mental focus.*