Stress is a factor that threatens our mental or physical state.Our stress mostly comes from worries about finance, work, children, relationships, divorce, bereavement, moving house, exams etc. Or stress can form due to not so real factors like worrying about the future or things beyond our control. Even getting stuck in a traffic jam can be stressful. Everyone gets stressed its how we deal with it that is very important. There are two types of stress, positive and negative.
Positive stress is essential in spurring motivation and awareness providing the stimulation needed to cope with challenging situations. Sportspeople and actors need the adrenalin to push forward and focus.
However negative stress can cause us to respond by worrying, panicking or losing our concentration.
How does stress affect us?
Our body has to respond to stress. Thousands of years ago the stress was more physical, we had to hunt for our own food and protect ourselves from wild animals. In the 21st century the effects of stress is the same, whether the threat is an angry boss or an angry buffalo. The fight or flight syndrome prepares our body to face the stressful situation or run away. Several systems shut down to conserve energy to enable movement and escape. Adrenaline rushes into the body to warn of danger, the heart rate increases, blood vessels contract increasing blood pressure, the digestive system shuts down and muscles contract. Once the danger is removed the body returns to its relaxed state.
However, it is not always easy to remove yourself from the stress, and as a result the body remains tense and cannot relax. This unused response mechanism is damaging.
Some effects of stress:- insomnia, headaches, diarrhea, depression, heart disease and cancer.
Stress has a tendency to creep up on you when you least expect it. Everyone gets stressed, its how we deal with it that matters.
- Stay active and exercise even if its taking the dog for a walk or walking to the shops. Fresh air has a way of clearing your thoughts and helping the mind to stay positive, and often you bump into someone you know and end up having a chat. Last week what should have been a 20 minute walk with my dog took an hour as I kept stopping to chat and catch up with neighbours.
- Humour is a wonderful stress reducer and antidote to upsets at home and work, we laugh the hardest when we are more tense. Laughter relieves muscular tension, improves breathing regulates the heart rate and pumps endorphins – the bodys natural painkillers into the bloodstream.
- Massage is an excellent way to destress resulting in an immediate local and physiological effect on my whole body, Massage therapy improves circulation, relieves tired and aching joints, and promotes general relaxation. The psychological effect helps you to switch off, thereby reducing tension and the effects of stress. I always feel energized after a massage and much more chilled out.
- If you are not squeamish about having your feet massaged, you should consider a course of Reflexology treatments. The feet mirror the body in Reflexology and the treatment induces a state of well being and equilibrium in the body.
- Practising meditation and mindfulness every day will help the mind focus and reduce anxiety.
- Food management is important and can improve your ability to relax and cope with stress. Food affects every organ of our bodies, including the heart, lungs and brain. Have you ever heard that fish is good for the brain? The correct diet will encourage fitness and energy, nourish nerves, feed muscles, improve circulation and breathing, and support the immune system. It will promote a general feeling of positiveness and calm.
- Leave yourself enough time to get to work or appointments, I know when I am running late for work, every traffic light is red and then when I get to work I cannot find a parking space, and I don’t like being late which stresses me out even more.
Whichever method you choose to use remember we all have to deal with stress, how you de-stress is vital to good health.