Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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January 23 2018

The Anti-Stress Tool I’ve Used For 20 Years (and a Giveaway)

By Mark Sisson
172 Comments

Primal_Calm_inlineI haven’t talked much about stress this month, and I don’t want to give it short shrift. Yes, there’s a lot to take apart with food and exercise, both of which can feel more “actionable” at times. But stress can be a major roadblock to success. How we deal with emotional and physical stress will invariably impact our health, well-being and performance. Until we dial it in, we’ll compromise the results of all our other Primal efforts.

I’ve said in the past that stress has been one of the hardest aspects I’ve struggled with—and continue to now and then. Living Primally means I’m running on full rather than empty to be sure, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world always conforms to logic or sanity, let alone my preferences. And emotional tension aside, I like to push myself periodically in the gym or on an outdoor adventure, which means I’m dealing with physical stressors, too.

Here’s one thing I’ve done for twenty years to counter both emotional and physical stress.

Recently, I sat down with Brad Kearns to talk about one of the best kept secrets in performance nutrition—a potent anti-stress agent called Phosphatidylserine (PS).

PS is the lead ingredient in Primal Calm, a custom formulation that has been proven to help blunt the spike of cortisol in the bloodstream in response to stress. Old time endurance athletes like Brad and I have been using PS for over 20 years to help speed recovery from crazy training binges, but PS and the supportive ingredients in Primal Calm are also effective against routine modern life stressors like jet travel, hectic daily routines, compromised sleep, and so on.

We talk in the video about the physiology of stress and the best ways to use PS or Primal Calm—with more specific recommendations for bouts of heavy stress or training.

The goal isn’t to blunt the edge that can sharpen your focus or performance. It’s to achieve an evenness or, in some cases, a mellowness rather than the amped-up fight or flight response. I could easily write more, but check out my talk with Brad, and let me know what you think.

Now For the Giveaway…

320_Primal_CalmI don’t think I give enough attention to Primal Calm on the blog, but today I’m going big. I’d like to give one random commenter a year’s supply of Primal Calm (12 bottles).

Just tell me what questions you have about stress—emotional stress, training related stress, etc.—or what stress-related topics you’d like me to write about on MDA.

Be sure to comment before midnight tonight (1/23/18 PST) to be eligible to win. (And be sure to use a functional email address when you comment. We’ve had to choose alternate winners on a few occasions this month because emails were undeliverable to the listed addresses.)

Thanks for stopping by today, everybody. Take care.

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172 thoughts on “The Anti-Stress Tool I’ve Used For 20 Years (and a Giveaway)”

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  1. I’m curious about how to best turn chronic stressors that the modern world provides into hormetic stressors. It seems like there is probably a more advanced strategy than standing up every 20 minutes or so (though that is really helpful). In short, what is it that those who are able to perceive stress healthily are able to do that the rest of us aren’t?

  2. I’ve had terrible stress since moving two years ago. Does Primal Calm help with the stress of maladjustment?

  3. My question is about life stress vs. exercise-related stress. If you’re stressed and/or run down, but you think a workout might give you endorphins, is it okay to work out? Or would it be better to skip the exercise and do something to reduce stress so you’re not contributing to adrenaline/cortisol, etc.? I know you advocate more lifestyle activities, like hiking or surfing, than something like Orange Theory, but how important is it to get something like 30 minutes of movement every day versus catching up on sleep?

    1. In my experience, sleep trumps all. You want to be very careful with arenaline and contributing hormonal changes.

      Rest should always come first. You know your body. You know the difference between “I don’t want to work out” malaise that leaves as soon as you get started with your routine and true tiredness.

      Lack of sleep throws everything off.

  4. I’d like to know more about managing cortisol and training related stress

  5. I’ll have to look into Primal Calm some more. My daughter has recently started taking Omega 3s and Phosphatidylserine for mild ADHD. It has been over a month, and she is not seeing much difference. While I am going keto after reading your book over Thanksgiving break, the rest of the family including this daughter are not. I’d love to see her try some dietary changes, but do not intend to push her. Looking at the ingredients, would Primal Calm be a good alternative to the Phosphatidylserine supplement alone for a 16 year old? I do think the additional ingredients could be helpful. I add L-Theanine to my bulletproof coffee every morning.

  6. Hello Mark,

    I would like to know more about handling stress when you have a full-time job and school age children. While I think that some of the school demands are not in line with what i believe – ie they get too much homework and not enough recess, I still must prepare them for the world they live in. Thus some of their stress and responsibilities fall on me. I do have routines in place to keep the house running, ie put clothes out before bed, load backpacks every night etc. but It is difficult to not be the martyr and to take enough time for myself to de-stress. Then if work gets especially busy or stressful it tends to build and is hard to manage. How do you know if your stress levels are hormetic and not too much?

  7. Can you address ways to manage short term high stress times? I’m thinking specifically of non-chronic issues like moving, changing jobs, death of a family member, etc.

  8. Should we concentrate on shoe-horning in anti-stress time every day, or can we get similar benefits from taking a “real” day off?

  9. I would love to see information about how stress directly damages organs we need to preserve. I know that stress contributes to thyroid disease, but I don’t have a direct progression in the body. We often discuss how it works the adrenals, and what adrenaline does in the body. But that’s often the extent. Is it direct in the sense that adrenaline starts cortisol that then changes our digestion and taxes our organs by sending the wrong fuel? Or is it that cortisol directly inflames some body parts?

  10. Hi Mark! I have a question that is perhaps too complex/involved, but here goes:

    I’m a 39-year-old female. I grew up with (undiagnosed and untreated) depression, anxiety, and OCD that I believe kept my cortisol levels at high and unhealthy levels from basically ages 5-30! I believe this is what has caused me to always have a somewhat bloated belly, no matter how much I dial in my eating and exercise.

    My question is: is there any hope for me to recover from this long-lasting cortisol assault on my body? I quit my high-stress career, got therapy and medication to help my mental-health issues, and have my daily stress at a reasonably low level. I walk 2-6 miles outside every day and also do HIIT/weights about 5-6 times per week. I eat a gluten-free, clean, and Primal diet. I feel generally positive about my body, but my bloated belly has always bothered me, and I’ve wondered if I can do anything to help it, or if I just need to accept that I’ve done permanent damage to myself. Thanks in advance for any advice you might provide!

  11. I am always open to new ways to handle stress. I like how the term “mellowness,” rather than fight or flight. Great food for thought.

  12. I have been losing a ton of hair lately. I’m trying to figure out if it’s stress, not enough macro nutrients on my Keto diet, or possibly something g else. I could use help. Would your primal calm help with this issue?

    1. I am having exactly the same hair loss issue Hannah and wondering if primal calm would help.

    2. Very low carb can sometimes down regulate the thyroid and hair loss can result. Zinc and selenium can help support the thyroid. You may have to up your starchy carbs some. I found I do much better with some in my diet.

  13. Does Phosphatidylserine help with mental-related stress? (i.e. stress about work, finances, relationships, etc.)

  14. Is there any evidence of the keto diet adding to stress, especially making one more irritable? I going myself easily irritable while on it.

  15. You’ve probably already addressed this somewhere, but I’d love to hear more about strategies to deal with stress-related eating – or cravings. About 2 weeks ago, I went on a Skittles-and-Starburst bender due to work stress that added a couple of pounds I’m still trying to get rid of.

  16. Group dynamics…. my work place consists of over 150 fellow employees. It is a very, very cynical place. My attempts at positivity are met with jaded skepticism, which causes anger, frustration and stress on my part. Not good.

    I’m sure there are some universal lessons in there, regarding group dynamics, personal stress management and so forth. I start every week off optimistic and fresh, but by late week I’m worn down and frustrated. I want to be a difference maker and a positive influence. I’m not sure I have the tools. I know I can do it, though.

  17. Hey, Mark! This could be a pretty broad question so I’ll try to narrow it down but when/how do you recommend taking Primal Calm? What time of day? Consistent timing and dosing over time or increasing in response to elevated stressors?

  18. i used this a few years ago and loved it. i have been thinking about bringing it back into my rotation

  19. My question about stress is about best practices for recognizing when you have hit your own personal threshold for enough? For example, when in the midst of a stressful period at work, how do you correctly identify when you’ve hit that point at which you’re better off NOT working out that day because the cumulative effect of your stress levels and cortisol response will negate the physical benefits? On some level most of us coming to this blog are Type A in nature, and at least I personally find it hard to know when I’ve hit my limits.

    1. An interesting metric to look into for this is HRV (Heart Rate Variability). It’s not a definitive marker but can be a good indicator that you might need to take a break. I keep track of my HRV every day and notice worse scores the morning after a hard workout or lack of sleep, etc. and always plan a “rest” day meaning a slow bike ride or a lot of walking.

  20. When I stress it’s usually financial stress. Grok didn’t have dollars to worry about so in primal terms I suppose I stress over the uncertainty of vital resources. How would Grok have dealt with the stress of not being certain where the next meal was coming from to feed his family?

  21. Hey Mark, I am a full time firefighter/Paramedic and soon to be PHC. I walk the talk most days on living primally but 24 hour shifts with random cortisol dumps every time the tones go off throughout the day and even worse in the middle of the night can quickly sabotage my fitness goals. I know sleep deprivation and stress of the job can ruin my health but I love the job and it pays the bills. I would love to see the topic of Firefighter/first responder sleep deprivation and stress covered. #primalosophy. Thank you sir.

  22. I have noticed over the years an uncomfortable spike in anxiety post workout that can last a few hours and even sometimes the rest of the day, most likely from elevated cortisol. I wonder if the PC supplement would help to blunt some of these symptoms. It can be very frustrating and can sometimes become a demotivating factor for exercise.

  23. My question doesn’t really have to do with stress, but more of supplements like Primal Calm. I often hear advice not to take supplements because you are just generating expensive pee. I eat a balanced diet, with nutrient dense food, which is suggested over taking supplements/vitamins. I’m just curious to hear your thoughts on supplements. Thanks Mark!

  24. I wonder if PS would help or harm those of us with hyperandrenergic POTS?

  25. I’m particularly interested in the effects of cortisol, and precisely how it manifests physically in response to stress. Does it manifest differently in response to “life” stress (work, family, etc.) than to “training” stress? How do we know we’re actually having a cortisol issue, as contrasted with those times it’s under control? Is it easily measurable? Is it just a matter of feeling crappy, or the accumulation of body fat? I’d love a detailed walk-through of the cortisol phenomenon and strategies for managing it. Thanks.

  26. As a graduate student as well as avid CrossFitter would it be wise to take PS immediately pre-examinations/WODS or post? If pre and/or post stressful events what should the timeline be like (15 minutes before/2 hours post?). Is it possible to over consume PS to negate exercise improvements? Would just taking PS at a certain time each day no matter what the day entails be best? Is there a so called reset period for PS (example off weeks/days for caffeine re-sensitivity)?

  27. Is there a relationship between vitamin D levels and baseline stress? How might Omega 3 & D supplementation influence the body’s reaction to stress, and where does L-Theanine fit in the conversation? Thanks!

  28. I’d like to see a discussion of stress and sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone). For me, intermittent fasting was associated with increased Cortisol and contributed to an Estrogen/Progesterone imbalance. Do we know anything about the interaction between Primal Calm/Phosphatidylserine and sex hormones?

  29. The line about blunting performance was so fascinating.
    Can we make a more thorough dissection of the interplay between mood and (specifically anti-stress) supplements? There’s a huge link between creativity, intelligence, and mental illness.

    While we can all agree mental illness is not preferable, since it’s a chronic twisting from the inside out, it’s dearly bewildering to me how certain imbalanced states of consciousness in humans can result in creative insight. And how sometimes, there are humans who can remain balanced and still achieve great insight.

    I’m not sure if I’m clear enough here. Let’s take, for example, Johann Goethe and William Shakespeare. Compared to contemporaries (e.g Marlowe), Shakespeare had quite an uneventful life, and somehow my intuition speaks to me that he was the type very passionate about his work, yet patient in his life endeavors. Goethe, on the other hand, is renown for his mood swings, intensity, and sensibility. So much so that, at age 25, he shot his protagonist (Werther; depicting his inner turmoil) to save himself, and dedicated his next decade to court life in Weimar.

    Through a lot of diligence, Goethe did manage to strike a balance. His periods of intense artistic inspiration and output often were triggered by his most depressive and intense moods, which he balanced through intense immersions through science that offered him a personal sense of well-being but, perhaps, cut short some of that inspiration short-term.

    The question then becomes, what exactly is meant by “mellowing out” performance, or mood? It’s obvious that emotions can be a two-edged sword, while at the same time, it is entirely possible to learn how to channel all your emotions in engaging pursuits. Emotions can both drive and hinder performance, depending on how they’re mastered. Could this mellowness attributed to Ptd-L-Ser, for example, soften the intensity of emotions — emotions which could otherwise be channeled into performance? Would a top-performer be willing to make that trade-off? Is lifestyle imbalance justified by one’s devotion to one’s life mission?

    And could we win out anyway, in the long-term, through disciplined patience and prioritization of balance in one’s daily life, in terms of performance over those who use the much shorter road of imbalance and overwork? Your stance, Mark, on how the endurance athletes of the future will maximize human potential by working less and resting more, inspires me… Its implications are far-reaching in all domains of human performance.

    And how does hormonal status impact creativity in general anyway?

    1. +1 I’m not sure if this is exactly what you are saying but another question I have is are we really better off taking a pill to help us become calm? Or would we be better of channeling our stress and emotions into better coping mechanisms engaging in other pursuits to manage that instead?

      1. This is what I’m saying, yes. I’m sure there’s no right answer; it’s a very personal choice. I’m also pretty positive that the majority of the population would rather not have to carry the burden of emotional excess.

        But there will always be exceptions. And I’m very interested in deeply understanding the interplay between supplements, biochemistry and mood for people that need something a little bit more specific than “mellowing out”; the strange cases.

        Anyway, very interesting discussion topic overall.

  30. Can you talk about the stress of loneliness and isolation? I am a senior but still work full time. My life partner died and I moved across the country a few years after. I work from home so I don’t get to hang out with co-workers and I only know 2 people here even after several years. I have no living relatives so it’s me and my pets 24/7.

  31. I’ve had a lot of work related stress lately. Would love to know best techniques for managing when work demands make it difficult to get to the gym. Trying to get good sleep is my current #1 tactic.

  32. As a working mom, I struggle with stress and balance (like everyone else!). Personally, I find stress to be almost a zero-sum game. Any stressor — changing diet, strenuous exercise, work deadline, sick children, house or car repairs needed, business travel, righteous indignation over something in the news — seems to take away from the total stress I can manage. Even good stress can add in; exhilaration can be as exhausting as frustration. I have to work at it, but the key for me is to keep as calm as possible as much as possible. The more I get worked up about anything (good or bad), the less I can handle overall, and rumination is a complete energy-killer. So for me, meditation and mindfulness are probably the most helpful tools.

    1. I meant to add at the end: Does anyone have a similar experience, where stress seems to be zero-sum?

  33. How does stress benefit us? Is that an outdated system that’s now causing more harm than benefits? What sort of stresses can be beneficial? Isn’t exercise, for instance, intentional stress induction? Are there other types?

  34. Hi- I wonder if physical stress and emotional stress affect the body in the same way? Thx, Alane

  35. I’d like to know more about how the effects of stress are modified by how we think about or perceive stress.

  36. Maybe a bit of a stretch to relate this to stress, but here goes. I have been loving cold showers for some time, especially first thing in the morning as a wake-up tool (almost as effective as coffee, but much less enjoyable). Given that cortisol is already high around the time we wake up, do you feel that another physical (and mental) stressor like a cold shower right out of bed is a bit of “overload”?

    On a related note, how do you feel about a cold shower following a heavy lifting session? It may be the old bodybuilder-style “pump” idea still present in my mind, but for whatever reason I wonder if cold water exposure for a muscle that’s pumped following a good workout has any undesirable effect (or maybe even a positive effect for recovery). Rock on Mark!

  37. I have started adding “minor” evening exercise to my daily regimen to try to improve my sleep quality. During the week, I wake up at 3:15 am so that I am able to get a good 45 minutes of weight training in prior to work. I am not sure how well it is improving my sleep as I don’t get enough sleep to begin with. But, I have noticed an increase in energy, overall. I feel my diet is tight: I typically have +/- 50 g of carbs (from fruit) and have been following a primal eating habit for a few months now. Yet, I have been battling a minor cold for the past couple of weeks.This leads me to believe that my body is in stress. Do you think that my evening workout (typically 15-20 minutes of HICT step work, or, band work for my joints, or even Plyobox jumps could be the cause for my reduced immune strength, even though my energy is still on high?

    Well, what ever it may be, after watching your video with Brad, I am going to try some of the primal calm that I have, laying around here, somewhere…. I can’t wait to see the results.

  38. How to prepare for mentally stressful situation in advance.

  39. I have started adding “minor” evening exercise to my daily regimen to try to improve my sleep quality. During the week, I wake up at 3:15 am so that I am able to get a good 45 minutes of weight training in prior to work. I am not sure how well it is improving my sleep as I don’t get enough sleep to begin with. But, I have noticed an increase in energy, overall. I feel my diet is tight: I typically have +/- 50 g of carbs (from fruit) and have been following a primal eating habit for a few months now. Yet, I have been battling a minor cold for the past couple of weeks.This leads me to believe that my body is in stress. Do you think that my evening workout (typically 15-20 minutes of HICT step work, or, band work for my joints, or even Plyobox jumps could be the cause for my reduced immune strength, even though my energy is still on high?

    Well, what ever it may be, after watching your video with Brad, I am going to try some of the primal calm that I have, laying around here, somewhere…. I can’t wait to see the results.

  40. What other passive methods are the best for stress relief? Saunas, Cold Therapy, sunlight, walking, Burpees till you puke?

  41. Any tips for handling the subconscious stress (ie: dreams about work-related stressors, stressful thoughts about the day ahead in the first waking moments, etc.)?

  42. So many good questions already! I’m interested in whether Primal Calm can help chronic stressors (work) and maybe help lower them over time. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are only so many relaxation techniques, etc. that I can do, and that at least some of my stress is purely physiological.

  43. Great timing on this post! I’ve been struggling with just feeling “amped up” at all times. I just struggle to relax and nothing in particular is causing me to stress out. I’m just amped.

    I’ve recently started using an Apple Watch which monitors my HRV and my HRV is usually low during rest. I understand that it should be higher so I think it just reinforces me being stressed. Any thoughts on stress and HRV?

  44. I feel that I am pretty laid back in my waking life but at night it’s a different story. I clench my jaw and sometimes even bite the side of my tongue. I do sleep and I follow the guidance regarding sleep hygiene. I wonder if anyone shares this experience and/or has advice.

  45. Hi Mark. Does Primal Calm work well for insomniacs? I have found over the years the less quality sleep I get each night correlates with my anxiety and stress level during the day. Thanks

  46. Can you please talk about ketosis and stress, and how it is related to prevention of disease. I’ve read that being in ketosis 24/7, 365 days a year can be a chronic stress on the body. Then again I see where this is promoted as the primary goal to health. I am especially interested in ketosis as a preventative tool for alzheimer’s and want to know whether ketosis should always be my goal.

  47. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for the information. In our increasingly connected world, I’d appreciate some insight on how screen time (I.E. news programs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) impacts cortisol response, and some ways to reconcile the “need” to be connected and informed, but stress free. Thanks!

  48. Is Primal Calm helpful in relieving stress related to Aspergers for children and adults? Thank you

  49. how do seniors manage the stress of doctors who only want to push big pharma versus the unending array of supplements? we feel forgotten in this melee

  50. In addition to all the other excellent questions related to stress, I’ve wondered about the effects of daily stress on cognition. I’ve only recently started using Primal Calm and haven’t been great about always remembering to take it, but when I do remember to take it regularly it feels like I’m more able to focus. Not sure if it’s a direct effect of PC, a side effect of helping alleviate stress, or possibly even a placebo effect.

  51. I wanted to ask about the effects stress can have on your life despite being “primal” or “paleo” or doing the “Whole30”. Specifically someone that is doing the Whole 30 type eating pattern and relatively active (Yoga once or twice a week and some walking) but still not seeing any results. The only thing I can think of is stress might be holding them back? I had amazing immediate results and wonder why that doesn’t happen to other people.

  52. I would like to see some comparison in the perceived stress improvement (or worsening) for different types of exercises
    I would also like to get the year’s supply of Primal Calm 🙂

  53. I’m curious about how Primal Calm will work for PTSD induced stress. I was 900′ away from Tower 2 on 9/11. I get some pretty hefty anxiety spikes (which training helps tremendously), however, the worst element in persistent insomnia. I’d love to see if PC helps with my sleep.

    Thanks!

  54. I’d like to know more about how to best combat stress from HIIT other than just don’t work out 5 times a week. Don’t know that I’m willing to sacrifice days at the gym. Thanks!!

  55. Normally I feel pretty low-stress, but I do struggle with occasional binge eating on carbs when I am stressed, particularly when there is a change in my routine or we’re visiting family. What strategies work well for staying calm in the face of disrupted routines?

  56. I am interested in your thoughts on stress and its effects on the immune system. Do you believe Primal Calm can be beneficial for an individual that frequently becomes ill under stressful situations but is otherwise considered “healthy”?

  57. This post was perfectly timed as I was just sitting at my desk crying due to my inability to cope with work stress. How quickly does the product work? Does it build up over time?

  58. I would like to know more about physical stress (exercising, inflammation, etc) versus emotional stress. How do those affect the body differently (or the same)?

  59. I’d like to know how long it takes to recover from chronic stress/adrenal fatigue or the best way to do so. Due to a difficult work situation the stress kept ratcheting up higher and higher til I just collapsed. How do I recognize when I’m in that situation sooner next time because I sure missed it til I was completely underwater.

  60. I’d like to know more about the effects of long-term stress, particularly as it relates to children. For children who come from neglectful and abusive homes, how does the long-term stress of that environment impact their health? Even kids who, at a young age, are removed from their parents custody deal with the trauma for years. This is the case with our foster children (now our adopted our children). Being diagnosed with PTSD, among other diagnoses, as a child is no small hurdle in life. Maybe Primal Calm is a supplement to add to our care plan. Can children use Primal Calm?

  61. I am transitioning off a prescribed anti-anxiety med and would like to know some tips for getting things back on track naturally, both mentally and physically.

    Thank you!

  62. Other than primal calm(used before and love it!) what physical practices do you use to help reduce the affects of stress?

  63. I would love to see more about sleep aids. Natural and other alternatives. Should we use them? Do they do more harm than good?

  64. I’m curious about exercise stress as an older adult vs younger. 10 years ago at age 36 I worked out 6 days a week, no visible issues. Now I absolutely need a day off in between workouts or I feel it mentally, physically, emotionally… why is there such a change, even though I eat and sleep just as well as I did then, if not better! Extra exercise seems a lot more stressful these days.

  65. I’m curious whether Phosphatidylserine could help with full-blown anxiety disorders, in addition to run-of-the-mill stress.

  66. Great info! I would be interested in the effects of stress on sleep

  67. I actually don’t have a question about stress specifically, but do you have any plans for chewable or gummy supplements? I can’t swallow pills, and mixing them with applesauce or peanut butter is inconvenient and usually not tasty.

  68. Besides the basics (nutrition, sleep, exercise), what are some of the most impactful ways to counteract stress (and most supported by good science)? Meditation? Counseling or therapy? Outdoor time? Hormetic training?

  69. I have to comment that when I follow my primal/keto diet my stress level automatically goes down overall, I don’t worry about things all the time etc. Does it completely disappear well no. The supplement you talk about actually sound interesting to me, but my question would be are there any foods that will also help lower stress levels?

  70. Are the naturally calming foods I can eat? For example, mint is energizing but chamomile is calming. Are there food equivalents for these?

  71. I’d like to see data/info that can convince me that supplements like this (and others) are ‘safe’ and won’t cause other problems. Lots of ‘natural’ things can be unsafe if you abuse/contort/misuse them enough! I am 100% sure that stress is evil, but I also don’t need to be inviting other problems. I take care of my 89yr old mom, who on top of just general aging issues, had a stroke a year ago (yes, definitely mega stress – I’m VERY grateful she’s hanging in there and recovering!). I’m all she has so I can’t afford for some kooky side-effect from some hair-brained thing I tried in order to help me cope or ‘have better workouts’ put me out of commission – for her or me! I firmly believe that ‘heaven helps the man who helps himself’ – I’m not looking for a quick fix. I’ve gotten (short) daily workouts back into my sched along with keeping my job, getting my mom to all her appts, etc, including a weekly restorative yoga class, meditation, breathing exercises, etc. What I NEED are things that work that aren’t going to risk inviting other problems. There is SOOO much out there claiming to help with stress it’s unbelievable! I spent 20 minutes at the grocery store the other day reading the back of ‘stress’ tea boxes trying to find something I could add to my normal plain green tea that might give me a little help … so many claims on herbs and things with 6 names that I couldn’t even pronounce – I left without any tea. I’m willing to work at it, and willing to pay good hard earned cash – I just need to believe it’s actually going to HELP. Tell me how to figure out fact from fiction – and how to avoid things that could cause me more harm than good (which ironically, would only increase my stress more)!

  72. what is the source of the PS in Primal Calm — is it an animal or plant based supplement? I’ve read that there can be issues with both animal (cow) and plant (soy). I’ve also read about some sourced from cabbage, but how does that work?

  73. Could Phosphatidylserine potentially replace a beta blocker for stress related hypertension?

  74. Does the body respond differently to acute and chronic stress, and is the calm supplement taken the same way for both?

  75. Hi Mark! Can you comment on the stress created by nocturnal-work-related disturbances in circadian rhythm/”shift work syndrome”, and how Primal Calm/PS may be therapeutic?

  76. My primary stressor is social anxiety. Will Primal Calm likely help this?

  77. What is the effect of high intensity exercise on stress, and what is the normal timespan of its effect? Does the time of day that you workout affect how much cortisol will be released? I find after I run sprints or lift weights, I’m stressed for hours after my gym session, and can have trouble sleeping.

  78. I have Celiac (a major cause of stress on most days) and would like to know if Primal Calm is certified gluten-free?

  79. what can we do with stressors that absolutely cannot be eliminated from our lives while maintaining a high level of energy for our life’s demands?… coming from a mom of 3 under 3, breadwinner, full time working outside the home, special needs parent.

  80. I’d like to see a discussion, based on whatever research has been done (if any), on at what point an acute stressor, with possible good hormetic effects, turns into a chronic stressor, with negative health consequences.

    Time? Intensity? Control or lack thereof? Time-of-day? Nutritional status? Etc.

  81. My stress is always food-related. I work for a fantastic restaurant group and I’m surrounded by free high quality food, brought to my desk by my chef coworkers. I always have frittata, salad fixings, and quality protein in the fridge, but I feel so stressed out by the sheer act of resisting the delicious food. I’m slowly realizing that this stressor could (and probably is) countering the successes I achieve when I cook and bring my own food to work. Thoughts? My coworkers LOVE the delicious free food and I’m tired of feeling like the downer in the office.

  82. I would love to know more about how to combat anxiety and panic attacks primally.

  83. It’s one of our go-to supplements! Love it. I should take it more often, but I leave it for the wife to help assist her stress. It works!

  84. I’ve been wondering about the sleeping and stress. I get up multiple times a night with kiddos. Partial co-sleeping or at least “near by sleeping”, though tradional/ancestral seems to mean less sleep and more stress. Thoughts?

  85. Hello to all…..Many years ago when I lived in a different city, there was a remedy that a lot of folks used, called Calms Forte. Don’t know if it still exists but now perhaps something better has come along?

    Primal Calm sounds like just the thing for my wonderful husband who has Multiple Sclerosis…..he does very well following a primal lifestyle but we have noticed that the only two “episodes” he has experienced in the last 10 years have come after some fairly intense mental/emotional stress. I wish there had been some Primal Calm in the house when these happened. I think it would have made a big difference!

    Thank you, Mark, for inventing it.

  86. I’m always interested in suggestions for managing that traffic stress and those periods when the demands pile up!

  87. I’d like to learn more about the alternate types of stress primal folk tend to fall into after having mitigated the effects of the obvious ones like reduced sleep, lack of rest/recovery, eating habits that trigger inflammation, excessive exposure to EMF’s, etc. What become the new stress challenges that tend to creep up, and what new, potential stresses do you envision looming on the horizon?

  88. I’d like to hear more on the role of chronic stress and amenorrhea. Do you think you can still continue to train for your sport, eat in nourishing ways, but manage your stress well enough and be able to regain your cycle? Or is it strictly based on body fat percentage? Thanks for your great work and products!

  89. I’m curious if primal calm would work for me? I’d love to win. I commute to and from my full-time job which is stressful by itself. Add on top of that I have 2 autistic boys ages 12 and 8. I haven’t jumped fully into going primal due to poor planning on my part. To say I’m stressed is an understatement and most of the stress is here to stay. Can being constantly stressed be harmful?

  90. Once you have raised cortisol levels how long does it take the body to return to normal levels, after removing the stressor? Went in for yearly blood work, came back with a significant increase from the previous year. Test was taken three months after going through Hurricane Harvey. I felt as if I’d, just got on with it…but, the blood test said otherwise.

  91. My question is this: what is the best strategy for coping with a habitually vatied sleep schedule. I currently travel out of town for work and once, sometimes twice a week, I have to wake up to travel three hours.

    Is there a way to “catch up” on lost hours afterwards , or is trying to “stock up” on sleep ahead of time the best strategy?

  92. I am curious about the relation between stress and food cravings (e.g., when stressed, i crave salty foods). Are these cravings habitual, hormonal, etc.

  93. Hi Mark,

    I’m interested to know about dietary changes (removal of stressors such as gluten as well as additions) that can help us to manage stress.

  94. I”m a Primal Health Coach and Registered Dietitan with a newly minted private practice called Primal RD, in Ontario, Canada. But I am also mom to a wonderful developmentally challenged son who is 25, lives on his own and deals with anxiety and stress daily. I have him on a regimen of GABA, Mg, probiotics and omega 3 fish oils for reducing brain inflammation and irritation, with good results, but I would love to try him on Primal Calm as an adjunct to his current regime. Mark, if I was to be the lucky draw winner, I have a US connection for delivery of the Primal Calm – no worries about international shipping. I am a fierce mama bear that will do anything to improve my son’s life.

  95. How much do distractions (playing games, watching movies) help against stress? Ignoring issues is not a long-term solution, but do they help in delaying the negative effects of stress?

  96. Exercise is a stressor. Brief high intensity exercise is good. But long duration chronic cardio is potentially harmful. As a type A, I have a hard time limiting myself to brief high intensity exercise and too often find myself consistently doing it every day. How much is too much of ‘good’ exercise? What are some techniques I can use to dial it down?

  97. I am currently finishing my undergraduate career in college, majoring in Exercise Sport Science. After I graduate, I will be heading to graduate school for Occupational Therapy. I am absolutely in love with health and longevity which is the reason I have begun reading your daily blog. Outside of this supplement, what do you do to cope with daily stress? Have you looked into mushroom extracts to help with longevity and on a cellular level to help with immunity, cognition, memory, etc. ? Also would you recommend supplementing this Primal Calm daily?

  98. My question is related to the calcium component in Primal Calm – my partner has atherosclerosis & has been advised to stay away from calcium supplements due to the influence of excess calcium & further blockages. Would taking Primal Calm be safe for him to take?

  99. It would be interesting to hear about the journey of how Primal Calm came to be and what purpose each ingredient serves.

    How do parents of young children manage stress? Or help their children to manage it?

    Which whole foods help with stress?

    When does exercise help and when does it hurt and which kinds?

  100. Does tulsi or ashagwanda (adaptogens) work in anxiety relief? What are your thoughts on CBD pills?

  101. My question is what is the relationship between stress and certain autoimmune diseases? Two years ago when I was only 21, I came down with a nasty case of shingles on my right arm. At that time in my life, I was in a stressful college program, interning at an accounting firm during tax season in New York City, and was getting just 6 hours of sleep on average. Do you think the stress that all of this put on my body was the cause of my shingles? Other than those factors, I was following a Primal diet and Primal way of training, I just wasn’t following the Primal lifestyle, which is probably the most important aspect of what it takes to be Primal.

  102. I’d be interested in learning how to overcome stressful shift work while still improving fitness. Also, do you have any tips on how to switch from day shift to night shift in a compressed time window (48hrs or less)?

    I work a desk job in the military that routinely requires 10-12hr shifts that frequently switch between night and day shift, all the while staring at a computer screen non-stop with little to no time for breaks. On top of that, I’m also required to maintain a certain level of physical fitness. This leaves me with the dilemma of either sacrificing sleep to exercise or trying to wait until after work when I’m usually either too tired or too busy making dinner and preparing my lunch for the next day. On a good week I’m able to prep my meals on Sunday and not have to worry much about it throughout the week, but that isn’t always the case. Oh, and I have a wife who also has a big demand on my time when I’m not at work.

    Thanks for all you do!

  103. I would like how to handle stress with young children, working full time, marriage and managing emotions

  104. Can prolonged exposure to high job stress over three or four years contribute to cardiac issues such as increased valve regurgitation?

  105. Hi Mark! I’m curious about how emotional stress contributes to physical stress. Are there ways to protect your body when training during stressful life events?

  106. As a shift worker in Emergency Services the stress isn’t going away anytime soon. I love it but going back and forth between day and night shifts is slowly killing me. I’d love to learn more about supporting my adrenals…as playing high intensity sports such as hockey is getting increasingly difficult. Any suggestions?

  107. this looks like a solution to help with the everyday hectic routine in my house these days with two kids under two years old. sometimes i look for ways to keep everyone calm and together but most times it’s just crazy in our house. I might look into trying this and see if it helps!

  108. I tried Primal Calm for a while and didn’t think it did much. Perhaps I need to try it again.

  109. So I’ve been trying for six years now to PR a half marathon, and can’t seem to do it, even though I changed my training habits to follow that of what you outline in Primal Endurance a little over two years ago. I think stress has something to do with it, but my question to you would be how long does it take to really recover from stress? I had tons of it prior to 2015 – my eating/work/training habits were unsustainable. But now I feel like I’ve fixed everything and should be relatively stress-free. What gives?

  110. Can you train your body to stop producing cortisol in response to everyday, non-life threatening stressors like feeling overwhelmed at work? It’s not like we’re being chased by bears in my office, yet I often find myself amped up—elevated heart rate, clenched jaw, etc.—during a tough, busy day. Thanks!

  111. I am an elementary school physical education teacher and I bought primal calm at the start of the school year. This was going to be my alternative to prescription meds and/or a couple beers each night after work. I was afraid it would make me feel funny or tired so it sat in my backpack for about two months until I decided to try one. It’s not like the effects were immediate like “wow that was good”, but a little later in the day I realized I had gone with the flow and the stress of the day really didn’t bother me. I now take primal calm on an almost daily basis as a way to be a more affective teacher and to be able to handle the daily stress of life.

  112. I suffer from situational panic attacks. I’ve developed a phobia of driving interstates and bridges. I’ve tried lots of behavioral and mental excercises, the best so far being hypnosis. Therapist said it’s basically PTSD from a tramatic experience.

    This has been a ‘learned’ phobia that came suddenly in my 20’s. I’ve noticed that it’s worse in evening after a stressful day at work and worse after I’ve had coffee. So, I’m thinking it’s at least somewhat stress related.

    Do phobias stem from stress? Can stress relieving practices overcome phobias and/or PTSD?

  113. How do you help a kid with ADHD and extreme anger issues? We’ve tried just about everything. 🙁

  114. I use many varieties of calming teas to reduce stress, but would be interested in learning more about meditation and present moment awareness to handle anxiety and panic attacks. What are other natural techniques to help reduce stress? I find exercise, mostly hiking to be the most effective. Also, I would love to hear your thoughts on music and stress relief. As a musician, taking time to perform is a great escape.

  115. Dear Mark,
    It recently occurred to me that all exercise and all stress stress seem to get the broad brush stroke treatment. Are there times when perhaps lifting heavy weights might be better for stress (or even a particular type of stress) and times when interval training might do the trick?
    Be well.

  116. The hardest thing for me is to stop replaying stressful events in my head. Sometimes it feels like Person/Event X has colonised my headspace. How might I quit obsessing over what’s done so I can move on? And what if anything should I keep from a bad event as lessons that prevent me from finding myself in such situations in future? Your advice is really appreciated!

  117. Can you talk about the hormetic responses to polyphenols and how the intracellular stress they create can be a good thing? Also, could you take a wider look at different adaptogens and how each of them feel, perform, etc.?

  118. 2 questions —

    1. What do you recommend as a fix for an active minor anxiety attacks? Right now, I use Hyland’s Calms (might be similar to your Calm?), but am wondering what else may work. Meditation is not the answer I am looking for.

    2. What stretches or exercises can you do to relieve shoulder tension caused by stress?

    Thank you!

  119. Any suggestions on recovering and repairing from long term work related stress? Obviously the first step is to get out of the job (done), but it’s been two years and sometimes I still have stress reactions as habits from the old job that don’t really make sense in the new job. And I wonder if I could have recovered more quickly or completely.

  120. I would love to learn more about dealing with stress as a parent of newborns / young kids. I find myself stressing out about all the things my 5 year old does. I yell at him before that part of my brain kicks in that reminds me it’s my job to teach him rather than assume he knows everything. That takes me further down the rabbit hole because I stress about how I treated him.

    It gets even worse when my 9 month old is fussy. It seems to add more stress to any situation. Some days I can’t wait until it’s their bedtime so I can just relax on the couch. And that stresses me out because I feel I didn’t spend enough time with my kids.

    I would love advice on how to deal with all of these stressors.

  121. Can you shed something light on PS in both soy and sunflower versions? Seems most of the tests are on the bovine version, which isn’t even available in the US due to mad cow fears. I’ve been taking it in pill form at 300 mg daily.

  122. Primal Calm sounds like a fantastic supplement. Are there any food or food combinations that could also be used to help prep your body to deal with stress? And I don’t mean binge eating ice cream. LOL. Thanks Mark!

  123. I am a person who tends to be on the over training side, so I would love to get some of your ideas on movement vs training, how to know if you are over training, how to know if you need rest or are being lazy. In the past 6 months I’ve done more rest, sleep, play, trying to do “nothing”, introspective time and have lost weight and increased cognitive focus from massively reducing my exercise and increasing my caloric intake. Maybe write about how to schedule in discrete focus periods amongst alot of rest. How our society makes us feel guilty about rest even though not being stressed let’s us be more productive. I am also curious about how anxiety or story telling or excess worry impacts physical and mental ability.

  124. I second Kim’s question. I have had a very rough time managing stress/anxiety in perimenopause.

  125. I am becoming more and more the full time caretakers of my parents – my father needs a lot of help and my mother, up to now, has been his caretaker. But lately, my mom is getting forgetful – so far they are safe in their own home. And as I am physically disabled (need to use a walker), life is a challenge. I am trying to wrap good people & services around them but I feel constantly stressed.

    Need to learn how to take a deep breath & face each challenge as it comes with love and serenity.

  126. What are the connections between emotional stress and physical pain?

  127. The stress of navigating the medical system. Want to do what’s best for mine and my family’s health, but so tricky navigating the system and getting testing and finding doctors in network, etc.

  128. I’m curious about levels of stress in the modern world in big cities vs more rural areas. I recently moved from a relatively calm neighborhood in Seattle, to the middle of the city in downtown Seattle. I even live right next to a freeway where cars are constantly driving 50+ mph all even through the night, the noise never fully stops either. I think that my stress levels have risen since moving not only into the busiest part of the city but also next to a highway, where my brain is constantly subconsciously trying to process the fact that large 2000 lb metal objects are moving very fast just a couple hundred meters from me. Is it safe to say that our bodies and brains aren’t built to handle the level of stress that inherently comes with living in the middle of a busy city, and constantly having to process high levels of incoming information of all types? Is there any information on how this might effect our bodies and brains long term? Is there any information on whether high levels of stress on a daily basis can effect hormone production and the way we feel emotionally? I felt that I haven’t had quite as much calm and true peace of mind since moving into the heart of the city but I have also adapted to it. Might be some compelling reasons for me to move more towards the outskirts and calmer areas of the city. Thanks for any feedback, would be much appreciated! Oh and on a side note, I am also curious about how stress affects exercise and recovery. If you have a good thorough workout and then go straight into a stressful environment, whether it’s rushing to work, or maybe having a negative encounter with someone that causes you to feel stressed, does this have an adverse affect on the positive progress you made by exercising, and the recovery/ positive growth and strengthening that you would hope to experience in your body? In my experiences, the most blissful post workout routine is having a good clean meal and going to lay in the sun, maybe even doze off for a bit. Again, thanks for any information!

  129. Hi Mark, I’d like to learn more about restoring hormonal balance after years of spiking cortisol levels due to constant high levels of stress. I had a couple really bad years and gained a lot of weight in the process. After years of cortisol overload could this be stalling my weight loss efforts?

  130. I’m an artist and I find that I work best when I’m in what some people call “flow” — you know, when you are so into an activity that time seems to fly by and your focus is perfect. I become stressed when that sense of flow doesn’t come which makes it harder to enter that state, causing more stress, making it harder…a downward spiral ensues. Can this calming agent help me get back to the state of flow?

  131. As a business owner and mom life is hectic and sometimes pretty stressful. I lift some weights but my favorite activity is racquetball, which is pretty intense. I’d like to get a better understanding of how much intense exercise is too much and if I’m stressing my body more than I should by playing 3 to 4 days a week.

  132. Stress has been the biggest obstacle in my path to healing. I can be doing great, felling well and energetic, but then something stressful happens and I”m bedridden. I do have auto-immune issues and need to know how to not be ruled by stress.

  133. I’ve always been curious about the best way to deal with the stress of air travel, namely jet lag. What strategies have you learned or developed that can be taken to reduce the stress on the body during long flights?

  134. I’m curious about the ways in which stress affect your gut biome. Stress is related to a lot of things physically seen, but not really what’s underneath.

  135. Mark, I’d love to hear you discuss if someone can be overstressed even if they don’t feel that they are (i.e. they’ve just become accustom to the feeling_

  136. Any plans to have Primal supplements available in the UK? It’s frustrating reading about all this good stuff and not being able to get your hands on it!

  137. My husband and I started our own business a few years ago. Since then my stress has been through the roof.

    I love being an entrepreneur, and I’ve never thought of myself as one who gets “stressed out” as I don’t usually get caught up in drama. However, the lifestyle we have had has definitely effected me physically (severe eczema, shingles).

    Any tips on beating stress while chasing down the American Dream???

  138. I’d like to know about reducing over training stress as an athlete in Brazilian Jiujitsu that requires hard training 4-6 days a week. Any supplements or tricks? Assuming my diet is on point (Primal Blueprint all the way!)

  139. I’d like to know more about the effects of stress related to the ketogenic diet (improvements, worse before it gets better, etc.). Thanks Mark!

  140. I know there are a lot of breathing techniques to deal with stress (Wim Hof Method, Box Breathing, 4-7-8, etc…). Do you have any favorite techniques?

  141. Hi Mark, Your thoughts on – How to break the connection between highly stressful situations and overeating to compensate in the moment.

  142. I’d like to know about mineral absorption and stress, specifically things like… how long after you have been experiencing stress before you are able to fully absorb minerals again / your mineral system gets back to its “old self” (given that you are otherwise living primally)? I’d hate to do a super mineral “refeed” or something but not have any of it be useful for my body because the stress was too recent.

  143. How do you best combat the stress that has built up from a neverending, high-stress job? My husband is ADAF, 26 years, and I still can’t get him to go primal. He is still of the mindset that the treadmill is the answer and slogs away the miles whenever he isn’t exhausted from 12-14 hour days. I have started to pack meals for his week since he is a geo-bachelor during the week, which is helping, but I am terrified that after he retires this later this year, he will drop over from a heart attack.

  144. My understanding is that phosphatidylserine is derived from soy lecithin. Primal folks have been avoiding soy lecithin for a while now… but, should we say that soy lecithin from non gmo or organic soy is not that bad, and perhaps beneficial, if taken at the optimum amount?

  145. How do you know when you should take a walk/yoga instead of a more grueling workout? Sometimes I feel tired before I workout but I know afterwards I’ll more than likely feel better but is this just endorphins?? Are there signs that tell when you’re depleting your adrenals?

  146. This year has been a roller coaster for me. Although lots of positive things have occured, I have in the past week had a pet pass away, an old neighbor lose her fight with cancer, another friend battling terminal cancer, FIL about to go into phase 2 of his treatments for multiple myelomar, dying aunt, and two more friends that are about to find out if they too have have cancer. I raced to the dr yesterday for fear I may have the flu, but the dr instead found abnormalities on my EKG. I am sure it is emotional stress. I would love to hear more about how to be less stressed for others so that I can take better care of myself for my family’s sake.

  147. How do you feel about calorie restriction? Not sure if it’s ketosis entirely but periodic fasting…a day or just skipping a meal like breakfast so you get a 12 hour fast from dinner the night before. Do we really need 3 meals plus snacks….I should say I don’t. Everyone is different, I suppose. Just avoiding sugar probably gets you most of the way there. There are researchers who are looking at calorie restriction for the way it protects mitochondria from ROS (reactive oxygen species) that hurt those energy-producing powerhouses.

  148. While the triggers of stress at work and at home may be different, does the body react differently based on the triggers?

  149. I’m definitely interested in exactly how PS works in the body. Also, I’m curious if it’s safe for a sleep deprived nursing mom

  150. I’d like to know if Primal Calm can help with the anxiety related to autism, both for the parent and child. My son was diagnosed 11 years ago and we have tried so many things to try and help us cope with all of the stress caused by a disability.

  151. Cortisol is a big problem for me (I think). It certainly was a few years ago when I did a saliva test. Perhaps it is lessened now, however I know that unlike adrenaline (which releases quickly and dissipates quickly), cortisol can take 24 hours to diminish. This is why it is so destructive and difficult to reduce. By the time it has reabsorbed another stressful situation will have brought it right back up. I’ll keep Primal Calm in mind. Currently I’m working my way through a whole cupboard of supplements I’ve bought, using them for various specific issues. Waste not want not–and I especially don’t want to waste the earth’s herbs and spices.

  152. I’m mid 50s and it seems life just never lends a break. I do 99% of everything right – eating, exercise, detox, no bad habits, etc – but just can’t seem to keep the stress of life under control. As a result, it seems I go backwards despite all the hard work. Any ideas?