Merry Stress-Mas!

By Sherree Walters, Guild Trainer and Assessor

Tis the season to be Jolly, and is also known as the season to be stressed!

Christmas is the time of year many of us love to hate or hate to love. It’s the time of year where we’re enviously glaring at people who have it all organised months in advanced, whilst we still have presents to get, food to organise and family to accommodate! It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but many of us suffer from the dreaded stress-Mas!

So what is the definition of stress?

Stress is a “physical, mental or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension” (Medicine Net, 2016).  When we are stressed, our body goes into fight or flight mode. Our bodies releases hormones like Adrenaline and Cortisol that are designed to make you more focused, increase reaction time as well as increased strength and stamina.

Symptoms of stress may range from the following (Medicine Net, 2016);

  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Weight issues
  • Auto Immune Disease
  • Skin conditions- such as eczema outbreaks,  Premature ageing
  • Reproductive Issues – Infertility
  • Pain
  • Heart Disease – Increased risk of hypertension, heart attack and stroke, Increased blood pressure
  • Digestive Issues
  • Sleep Issues
  • Cognitive and Memory Issues

Pharmacy Assistants see and experience stress every day. From the tired mother wrestling with her overactive children, the soon-to-be bride who wants to lose weight for her upcoming wedding or the customer who is concerned about the health of a loved one. Many of our customers are looking for solutions for their symptoms, rather than addressing the underlining stress they are experiencing.

As trained pharmacy assistants we know that we need to determine a few facts about the customer before we can proceed with the sale of any stress related items;

  • Who is the medication for?
  • What are the symptoms and how long have they been present?
  • Have they tried any other treatment?
  • Do they take any medications (including vitamins, minerals and supplements) or have any other health conditions?
  • Are they pregnant or breastfeeding?
  • Are they emotionally aware of the stress?
  • Do they have a good venting outlet?
  • Do they take part in daily physical activity?
  • How is your diet?
  • Are they stressed due to internal or external factors?

We can then look at the answers the customer has given us to determine whether we can supply them with products and lifestyle tips to assist their needs or whether we are required to refer this customer on to our pharmacist.

We can supply our customer with many products to aid them, such as

  • Melatonin to help control sleep cycles
  • Magnesium to aid nerve and muscle function
  • Valerian to aid with insomnia due to anxiety
  • Vitamin B which converts food to energy and is classified as a good “pick me up“ vitamin to help improve mood

(SIRCHC306- Advice on Complementary Medicine & SIRCPPK201- Assist customers seeking commonly requested Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements – Guild Workbooks)

We need to ensure the customer is walking away with a whole solution and not just aids. Here’s a few tips you can give your customers to help them through the Christmas stress minefield.

  • Regular exercise is great. Exercise creates serotonin in the brain which is the feel good chemical
  • Create a good work/life balance, take time to smell the roses and enjoy life
  • Meditation and yoga are great relaxation techniques to calm and soothe the mind
  • Avoid high sugar and fatty foods, eat green leafy vegetables, salmon, blueberries & nuts
  • Have a sleep plan and make sure you stick to it
  • And lastly remember just to get everything off your chest! Sometimes the best medicine is talking to your partner, friend or family! (Better Health Channel, 2014)

The best way to avoid stress over Christmas is to be prepared. Every year I have my shopping organised by September, food arranged by November and any additional pieces organised in the weeks leading up to Christmas. These simple preparations leave me feeling stress-free, organised and ready to enjoy Christmas with friends and family!

On that not, I wish you all safe and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! See you in 2017.


Medicine Net (2016)”definition of stress”

Guild Workbook SIRCHC306- Advice on Complementary Medicine

Guild Workbook SIRCPPK201- Assist customers seeking commonly requested Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements

Better Health Channel, Victoria State Government (2014)