We all joke about a stressful day, we take it our stride, and we keep calm and carry on but when do we stop and think about how stressed we have been and for how long?
Stress to a certain degree is useful, it makes us get things done and achieve what we set out to do but when it is done do we do the things we need to do to get back to being balanced and calm? Or do we carry on to the next project or source of stress?
Imagine a bucket building up with stresses big and small – Moving house, relationship issues, job issues, bereavement, traffic jams, children/teenagers, to do lists, decisions, lack of sleep, Christmas etc. When the stress bucket over fills our capacity to deal with even small stresses becomes much more difficult, our systems are overloaded and burnout can result.
What happens to our bodies during periods of stress?
When we are stressed the hypothalamus triggers the sympathetic nervous system to a state of high alert, and the body produces stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. This process prepares the body for ‘fight or flight’- to fight the danger or run from it.
Many changes take place in the body:
- The muscles tense up ready for action
- The heart rate and blood pressure increase
- Blood-glucose levels increase
- The digestive and immune systems shut down so there is more energy for other systems
- Inability to focus on small tasks due to acute awareness on the big problem i.e. where the threat is coming from
- The pupils dilate for acute sight to spot the danger
In modern life the stresses that cause these responses rarely result in fighting or running. The body does not have the opportunity to use up these hormones and often they stay in the body causing havoc with our systems, until the next cause of stress comes along and the cycle continues. Looking at these processes imagine what continual stress does to our ability to function on a daily basis.
According to the government in 2015/2016 work days lost due to stress, anxiety or depression rose to 11.7 million days. Work related cases of stress were 1510 out of 100,000 workers and that is the reported cases, chances are the figure is much, much higher than that.
What can we do to keep our stress levels in check?
- Regular exercise
- A nutrient rich diet is important as the stress process uses up extra nutrients such as the B complex vitamins.
- Taking time out to rest and/or meditate at home or in a group.
- Regular therapy treatment is invaluable in releasing the effects of stress and bringing the body back to homeostasis – balance in all systems.
There are many therapies to choose from, here are some examples:
If you would like more information on these treatments or how to book an appointment, click the bold title. If you are not sure which treatment is the right one for you at this time, do call the centre on 01252 246824 and we will see how we can help you.
However you decide to deal with your stress levels do ensure you keep them in check regularly and do turn to others for help - your long term health depends on it.
By Maxine Crinall