We all need a certain amount of stress in our daily lives. However, if stress becomes unmanageable we need to do something about it.
You may be experiencing a period of stress If you are suffering from:
- sleep problems
- panic attacks
- constant worry
- digestive problems
Common causes of stress are:
- inability to say no to others eg taking on too much work
- relationship difficulties
- family distress
- financial troubles
- death of a loved one
- moving home
How Stress Affects the Body and Brain
When we are stressed the body’s impulse is to react in one of 3 ways: fight, flight or freeze. These reactions protect us from danger. Under stress, a part of the brain called the hypothalamus sends messages to the adrenal glands which produce stress hormones called cortisol. Cortisol raises blood sugars and blood pressure so that we are able to face the immediate danger or stress. However, it is unhealthy to be in this state for a prolonged period. Sustained stress can lead to anxiety, depression, and disease.
Research has shown that talking therapies, exercise and meditation can all help reduce stress.
Self-help Ways To Alleviate Stress
- breathe deeply
- do one thing a day for yourself to make you smile
- meditate, use a Youtube video or podcast to help you focus
- work out what may be worrying you and prioritise your list of things to do
- share your worries with your partner, friend or therapist
- spend some time outdoors: go for a walk, run or do some gardening
- take up a new hobby or interest
- do something creative: cook, paint, play a musical instrument, craft, DIY
- watch a funny movie or some live comedy
- get some exercise
- practice some yoga poses
- have a relaxing bath with candles and music
- book a massage or reflexology session
- eat healthily and drink plenty of water
- bury yourself in a novel
Once we have identified our stressors we are able to take action, no matter how small, to reduce our stress. Adding in some of the above ideas every day should lead to a more calm and balanced lifestyle.