The dangers of stress
No one is immune to stress – it is a normal part of our lives. Stress can be caused by many different things, such as having too much to do, a poor night’s sleep, relationship problems, job worries, illness or someone in crisis. Stress can be short-lived or it can build up and become overwhelming!
Some stress is good as it helps us deal with emergency situations by triggering our fight-or-flight mechanisms but too much stress on a regular basis can lead to serious health consequences.
When we feel stressed or anxious, our adrenal gland releases the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. If this occurs constantly throughout the day, we feel fatigued, and our appetite becomes affected. This can then increase our cravings for sugary foods and beverages, which in turn lead to further energy depletion, and so the cycle goes on. We may then use caffeine to pick us up. Cortisol and adrenaline can also interfere with the sleep hormone melatonin which can then affect our sleep quality.
If you don’t keep your stress levels in check; the short-term gain of allowing high-stress levels to drive you will ultimately be detrimental to your health and wellbeing. Over time, unmanaged stress and anxiety can increase the risk of developing obesity, type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and Alzheimer’s disease. Stress is also a key player in insomnia, burnout and auto-immune disease, as well as mental health disorders, such as depression.
One of the first things to do is to try and identify the cause of your stress! It is a crucial part of feeling better and finding the right solution to deal with what is going on in your life. Good stress management will help you to build emotional strength with a positive outlook on life.
Take a look at our stress-busting tips that will help you to relax, have a calmer approach to life’s challenges and take good care of yourself!
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8 Stress-busting tips!
1. Make some ‘me time’ every day. Allow yourself to take some time for yourself. This could be as simple as going for a walk or reading a book. You could try some relaxation techniques as this will help your body to relax by slowing down your heart rate and lowering your blood pressure. Deep breathing, yoga, meditation and guided imagery are great ways to focus and relax the mind. Try to rid yourself of any guilty feelings that you haven’t earned any me-time if you feel like you haven’t accomplished as much as you should have – using this space will help you to work on those inner feelings.
2. Set limits and boundaries appropriately. Setting boundaries is a vital part of looking after your own mental and emotional wellbeing. It helps you to define who you are and establish your identity and allows you to protect and take good care of yourself.
3. Learn to say no to requests that would create more stress in your life. You don’t have to be at everyone’s beck and call at all times.- Sometimes give yourself permission to say no and use that time for you instead, it will help you to feel empowered.
4. Make a list of tasks you have completed instead of a to-do list. This can be gratifying, giving you a real sense of achievement! These feelings can help release serotonin and reduce blood pressure.
5. Eat meals at a table and try conscious eating! Taking the time to look at the food we are about to eat, taste every mouthful, and be present during meal times is essential for the body to absorb nutrients. This also helps to reduce bloating, acid reflux, and stress!
6. Keep a gratitude journal. This helps you to focus on the positive things in your life and to sort through any problems you may be struggling with. Tracking your thoughts on a daily basis will help you to understand what triggers your stress and enable you to find ways to overcome them.
7. Surround yourself in nature. Studies show that being outside and in touch with nature have been linked with a range of health and wellbeing benefits and can induce positive feelings and reduce stress. Try to spend at least 10 minutes outside every day and if you can, go to green spaces. Take time to notice the natural elements around you.
8. De-clutter! “Tidy house, tidy mind” is a well-known phrase and one that research suggests is true! Studies indicate that de-cluttering can not only have an impact on your physical surroundings but on your wellbeing too. Having a lot of clutter around you at work and at home can make it harder for you to focus and can cause your brain to be less effective at processing information, leading to frustration and stress.
A recent mental health study showed that 3 out of 4 Britons have felt overwhelmed by stress. The impact of such stress is hugely detrimental to our wellbeing; it can result in serious mental health issues leaving one in three people suffering from stress to feeling suicidal.
Wrap up: Just building a few of these stress-busting tips will help you to feel more in control of how you react to situations, rather than a situation controlling you! The act of taking control in itself can be empowering! Managing your stress levels in your daily life will promote longevity and help you to live a happier and healthier life.
References and further reading