Longevity Articles

5 Ways to Build Resilience Under Pressure

5 Ways to Build Resilience Under Pressure

Most of us are under so much pressure on a continuous basis that we don’t even consciously register it anymore until a tiny event pushes us into a rage or we become overwhelmed with distress on a random sunny Tuesday afternoon.  Many experts agree that overwhelm itself is the key driver of aging and disease, so it makes sense to work on this aspect of our lives directly. This can have dramatic downstream effects not only for mental and emotional resilience, but long-term physical health as well.

These effects impact every system of your body

Chronic exposure to high levels of pressure, whether from external sources or because of perception, exerts profound effects on the human body, largely mediated through the sustained elevation of cortisol, a glucocorticoid hormone produced by the adrenal cortex. Cortisol, often referred to as the "stress hormone," mobilizes energy reserves, suppressing non-essential functions during acute strain, and modulating the immune response. However, when agitation becomes chronic and cortisol levels remain elevated over an extended period, this adaptive mechanism can lead to deteriorated tissue function and faster aging, not to mention an evaporated enjoyment of life.

Cardiovascular System

Cortisol increases blood pressure and heart rate as part of the body's fight-or-flight response, preparing to respond to a perceived threat. Over time, these effects can contribute to increased risk of cardiovascular complications. Additionally, cortisol contributes to the development of arterial plaques by promoting the accumulation of abdominal fat and elevating levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.

Immune System

While cortisol has anti-inflammatory effects in the short term, chronic elevation suppresses the immune system, reducing lymphocyte numbers and function. This suppression compromises the body's ability to fight infections and heal wounds, and it may increase susceptibility to a wide range of illnesses, from simple to severe.

Metabolic Effects

Cortisol influences metabolic processes, promoting gluconeogenesis (the production of glucose from non-carbohydrate sources) and inhibiting insulin action, which can lead to elevated blood sugar levels and, over time, increase the risk of developing metabolic disorders. Chronic worry also promotes the accumulation of visceral fat, which is a risk factor for metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that increase the risk for heart issues, vascular weakness, and blood sugar dysregulation.

Musculoskeletal System

High levels of cortisol contribute to muscle breakdown and suppress bone formation, potentially leading to muscle weakness and decreased bone density. Over time, this can increase the risk of falls and fractures which often come with a poor prognosis later in life.

Mental Health

Chronic feelings of being on edge and high cortisol levels are strongly linked to mental health disorders, from feelings of nervousness to low moods to difficulty sleeping. Cortisol can affect neurotransmitter levels and brain function, impairing cognition and memory and altering mood regulation.

Digestive System

Worry can impact the gastrointestinal system, leading to symptoms such as heartburn, acid reflux, indigestion, and irregular bowel movements. Chronic agitation may exacerbate conditions that involve vomiting, frequent bathroom trips, and malabsorption of nutrients.

What Can Be Done?

While you may dream of your life being worry-free, that isn’t exactly a realistic expectation. The best we can do is minimize the effects of high pressure and maintain a sense of calm control over ourselves. Below are five things you can try to reduce the damaging effects of uneasiness on your mind and your body.

L-Theanine Calm Plex

The combination of Suntheanine® (a patented form of L-Theanine), GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid), and 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) forms a synergistic blend designed to enhance resilience through the modulation of neurochemical and physiological pathways. This trio engages with the body's central nervous system, neurotransmitter synthesis, and brain function to support a calm, balanced state.

Suntheanine® (L-Theanine)

Suntheanine®, a highly pure form of L-Theanine, is an amino acid predominantly found in green tea, known for its unique ability to promote relaxation without drowsiness. Mechanistically, L-Theanine influences the central nervous system to exert its effects. It crosses the blood-brain barrier and increases the production of GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that plays a key role in regulating neural excitability. Additionally, L-Theanine elevates levels of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters associated with mood regulation and a sense of well-being. By modulating these neurotransmitters, L-Theanine can attenuate the physiological and psychological impacts of strain, enhancing cognitive function and engendering a state of calm alertness.


GABA, the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, regulates neuronal excitability and induces relaxation, reducing nervousness, and improving sleep quality. Supplementation with GABA can help to restore optimal levels of this neurotransmitter, counteracting the overactivity of the nervous system associated with nervousness and worry. By binding to GABA receptors in the brain, it promotes a calming effect, which can mitigate the body's adaptation response and support a more balanced emotional state.


5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter integral to mood, anxiety, and sleep regulation. By increasing the synthesis of serotonin, 5-HTP supplementation can positively influence the body's overwhelm response and support emotional well-being. Elevated serotonin levels are associated with reduced anxiety and improved coping mechanisms in the face of distress. Additionally, because serotonin can be converted into melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep cycles, 5-HTP also has the potential to improve sleep quality, further enhancing resilience.

Synergistic Effects for Resilience

The combined effects of Suntheanine® (L-Theanine), GABA, and 5-HTP on the central nervous system and neurotransmitter levels offer a powerful approach to emotional management. This synergistic blend not only addresses the immediate physiological responses but also supports long-term emotional well-being and cognitive function. By modulating neurotransmitter activity, this combination helps to balance the body's resilience, reduce feelings of nervousness and loss of control, and promote a sense of calmness and focus.


Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is a polyphenol found primarily in green tea, lauded for its broad spectrum of health benefits, including its significant impact on resilience. This compound has been extensively studied for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties, all of which contribute to its efficacy in enhancing the body’s ability to manage and mitigate feelings of overwhelming pressure.

Antioxidant Activity and Oxidative Stress Mitigation

At the core of EGCG's resilience benefits is its powerful antioxidant capacity. EGCG scavenges reactive oxygen species (ROS), thereby mitigating oxidative stress, a common result of chronic physical and psychological pressure. Oxidative stress can lead to cellular damage and has been implicated in the aging process and degeneration of tissues. By neutralizing ROS, EGCG protects cellular elements, including DNA, proteins, and lipids, from oxidative damage, thus preserving cellular integrity and function.

Modulation of the Neuroendocrine System

EGCG influences the neuroendocrine system, notably impacting the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which governs the body's response to overwhelm. By modulating this axis, EGCG can help in regulating cortisol levels. EGCG’s ability to modulate cortisol production supports a more balanced and adaptive pressure response.

Neuroprotection and Cognitive Function

EGCG exhibits neuroprotective effects that extend its resilience benefits to cognitive health. It has been shown to enhance neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. Moreover, EGCG protects neurons from worry-induced damage by inhibiting apoptotic pathways and promoting cell survival signals. These neuroprotective actions help maintain cognitive function and mental performance under pressure, contributing to overall resilience.

Anti-inflammatory Effects

Chronic unease is associated with systemic inflammation, which can exacerbate the body's strain response and lead to damaging complications. EGCG exerts anti-inflammatory effects by downregulating pro-inflammatory cytokine production and inhibiting the activation of inflammatory pathways, such as NF-kB. By reducing inflammation, EGCG can mitigate the adverse effects of strain on the body and promote a healthier, more resilient physiological state.


Adaptogens, such as ashwagandha and maca, are natural substances that work by modulating the body’s pressure response systems, particularly the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathetic nervous system, thereby helping the body to maintain homeostasis under pressure.

Modulation of the HPA Axis

The HPA axis is a central component of the body's response to overwhelm by regulating the production of cortisol. Adaptogens have been shown to modulate the activity of this axis, enhancing its adaptability to nervousness. By doing so, they help in normalizing cortisol levels, preventing the detrimental effects of chronic pressure, such as fatigue, impaired cognitive function, and metabolic dysregulation. This modulation ensures that the emotional response is more balanced and less likely to lead to health issues.

Enhancement of Cellular Response

On a cellular level, adaptogens activate several key factors in the strain response, including heat shock proteins (HSPs), c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNKs), and forkhead box O (FOXO) transcription factors. These molecules are involved in the cellular defense mechanism against strain-induced damage, promoting cell survival and repair. HSPs, for instance, act as molecular chaperones that assist in protein folding and protect cells from thermal and oxidative stress, while FOXO transcription factors help regulate genes associated with apoptosis, cell cycle control, and oxidative stress resistance.

Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Actions

Adaptogens exhibit potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which are essential in mitigating the oxidative stress and inflammation that often accompany chronic strain. By scavenging reactive oxygen species (ROS) and inhibiting the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, adaptogens protect cells from oxidative damage and inflammatory processes. This antioxidant action extends to the protection of mitochondrial function, supporting energy production and cellular metabolism, further supporting the body's resilience.

Neuroprotective Effects

Adaptogens also have neuroprotective effects, enhancing cognitive function and mental performance under pressure. They influence neurotransmitter systems, enhancing the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that supports the growth and differentiation of new neurons and synapses. This action not only helps in buffering the brain against the effects of strain but also stabilizes mood and enhances cognitive function.

Malic Acid + Magnesium

Malic acid, a dicarboxylic acid found in fruits, is an intermediate in the citric acid cycle (Krebs cycle), a metabolic pathway that produces energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the mitochondria. Its role in the cycle involves the catalysis of the conversion of fumarate to L-malate, an essential step for the efficient production of energy within cells. By participating in this cycle, malic acid directly contributes to the cellular ATP pool, ensuring that cells have the necessary energy to function optimally, even under pressure.

Magnesium is a vital cofactor for over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, many of which are involved in energy production and neurotransmitter synthesis. Magnesium is needed for the proper function of ATP, as it stabilizes its structure, allowing ATP to interact effectively with enzymes and energy-dependent processes. It modulates the release and uptake of neurotransmitters, promoting a calming effect on the brain and reducing the physiological response to pressure.

When malic acid and magnesium are combined, their effects on energy production and nervous system regulation are synergistically enhanced. This combination ensures a steady supply of ATP, supporting cellular energy demands during high-pressure periods, while magnesium’s role in neurotransmitter regulation helps mitigate the body’s adaptation response. Together, they help maintain cellular energy balance, reduce neuromuscular tension, and support cognitive functions, contributing to improved resilience.


Exercise is hands down the best way to relieve nervousness and build resiliency, and the evidence is stacked overwhelmingly in favor of this being the first line of defense against the damaging effects of constant emotional pressure. The benefits of physical activity extend beyond immediate mood elevation to long-term adaptations that improve the body's ability to handle distress.

Neuroendocrine Regulation

Physical activity has a profound impact on the neuroendocrine system, particularly the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which governs the adaptation response. Exercise induces the release of endorphins, often referred to as the body’s natural painkillers, which can elicit feelings of euphoria and general well-being, known as the "runner's high." This release can help mitigate the perception of worry. Additionally, regular physical activity has been shown to regulate cortisol levels, the primary hormone associated with unease. By modulating cortisol secretion, exercise helps maintain a balanced HPA axis response, enhancing the body’s resilience.

Neuroplasticity and Cognitive Function

Exercise promotes neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. This is partly mediated by the increased production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) during physical activity. BDNF supports the survival of existing neurons and encourages the growth and differentiation of new neurons and synapses, particularly in the hippocampus, the center of learning and memory. Improved hippocampal function is associated with enhanced cognitive function and reduced susceptibility to emotionally related disorders.

Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

Chronic pressure is associated with increased inflammation and oxidative stress, which can negatively impact cellular function and contribute to the development of various age-related conditions. Exercise stimulates the production of antioxidant enzymes and anti-inflammatory cytokines, effectively mitigating oxidative stress and inflammation. This protective effect not only mitigates immediate damage caused by stressors but also contributes to long-term health and resilience.

Cardiovascular Health

Regular exercise enhances cardiovascular health by protecting blood flow, blood pressure, and heart rate variability (HRV), a measure of the heart's ability to respond to pressure. Improved cardiovascular function ensures efficient oxygen and nutrient delivery to tissues, including the brain, enhancing overall resilience to physical and psychological pressure.

Social Interaction and Self-Efficacy

Exercise often involves social interaction, whether through team sports, group fitness classes, or community activities. Social support and increased social interaction can buffer the effects of worry and nervousness. Additionally, achieving exercise goals can enhance self-efficacy, the belief in one’s ability to succeed in specific situations. Increased self-efficacy can reduce perceived pressure and improve coping mechanisms.

Key Takeaways

Pressure, especially the kind of chronic pressure that many of us endure in the modern world, can have a laundry list of negative physical and emotional effects. To counter these effects, it’s of course ideal to limit overwhelming situations and have practices in place like mindfulness or meditation that can help relieve worry. In addition, there are steps you can take to guard against the negative effects of constant pressure as well as become more resilient against future challenging events. Supplements like L-theanine, magnesium, EGCG, and adaptogens can protect the body from the inside, while regular exercise can keep you stronger and more resilient in a sustainable way.

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