Being under pressure can be a normal part of life.
But becoming overwhelmed by stress can lead to health problems or make existing problems worse.
To maintain our wellbeing, we need to be able to recognise what’s making us stressed to help us learn how to deal with it.
Stress is a major factor in illnesses where physical symptoms are prompted by mental or emotional problems.
Although, stress is not actually an illness in itself but rather a response by the body to anything that puts strain upon it. Many illnesses can be triggered or exacerbated by stress.
Most of us think of tense situations and worries as being the major cause of stress. In reality, stresses can be far more profound and as well as the physical stress of illness it is most often our behaviour that sows the seeds of stress.
- Skipping meals / Dieting
- Eating processed, junk foods
- Not exercising or exercising too much
- Avoiding or neglecting relaxation and other ways to calm the central nervous system
- Not getting enough sleep
- Blowing past your own fatigue to finish the day’s work
- Breathing shallowly when tense, instead of breathing deeply
- Mentally replaying stressful and inner dialogues
- Neglecting fun and relaxing activities that allows you to clear your mind
- Using sugar, caffeine, nicotine, drugs or herbal stimulants to function at a higher rate when already tired
- Putting yourself last!!
All of these factors have an effect on our body, causing it to make a series of rapid physiological changes, called ‘adaptive responses’, in order to deal with threatening or demanding situations.
“When a bridge is carrying too much weight it will eventually collapse. It is possible to see the warning signs before this happens – the bridge will bow, buckle and creak.
The same principle can be applied to human beings, with excessive demands and challenges placed on our bridges. There may be early warning signs, however stress can creep up on some of us, resulting in an unexpected breakdown.”
- Stress Management Society (www.stress.org.uk)
We are familiar with the adrenal glands ‘fight or flight’ response, however if the stressful factors are long term and adrenal reserves are depleted the following states of illness may be seen –
- Eating disorders
- Headaches, Migraines
- Irrational Fears
- Gastrointestinal dysfunction
- Irregular Menstrual cycles
- Low Sex Drive
- Mood disorders
- Muscle spasms
- Inability to make healthy cognitive choices
- Water retention
- Weight gain or Weight loss
- Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ) (– excessive jaw clenching)
Reflexology – or another Complementary therapy (i.e. Massage Therapy) can be beneficial to wellbeing and can fit into a busy lifestyle to provide a welcome break – something to look forward to!
- Deep relaxation helping to reduce stress and tension.
- Helps improve circulation and promotes the unblocking of nerve impulses helping the body’s systems to normalise.
- Improved Sleep.
- Improved sense of wellbeing.
Regular Exercise – choose an activity you enjoy …team sports, running, walking, swimming, yoga …
Ensure Healthy Eating – In times of stress we can often reach out for unhealthy foods.
Creative Activities – sewing, knitting, painting/drawing, crafts …
Get Plenty of Sleep – get into a good routine of regular bedtimes & morning wake-up times.
Social time – increase contact time with family & friends to prevent feeling isolated.
Breathe! – Meditation or spending some time focusing on your breathing can help calm the mind.
www.mind.org.uk (Mind, For better Mental Health)
www.stress.org.uk (Stress Management Society – from distress to de-stress)
www.aor.org.uk (Association of Reflexologists)
Mrs Alison Iles (MAR / MFHT), Reflexology & Massage Therapist