Stress is any factor disrupting physical, mental or emotional well-being.
You could narrow it down to two types of stress, positive and negative. We all work well on a little bit of stress, so positive stress can be a good thing. For example meeting work deadlines, studying for exams, running in races. However, negative stress causes us to respond by worrying, panicking or losing our concentration just to name a few. If stress is ignored it can lead to more serious health conditions – you name it, stress is probably the cause of it…
How can stress effect you?
The body reacts to stress in what we call fight, flight or freeze syndrome. When something happens to us the body prepares to face it or run away and what happens physiologically is that many internal systems shut down and the body works to conserve energy to enable movement, battle and escape. Then adrenaline is produced to deal with impending danger, the digestive system shuts down, heart rate increases, the blood vessels contract increasing blood pressure and the muscles contract. The body relaxes again as the stress factor is removed. There is nothing particularly dangerous about this unless the body is exposed to prolonged periods of stress – the kind that our mind and busy lifestyle can cause.
In our busy society today we can find ourselves under a lot of pressure, and if we remain stressed and feel unable to relax then the internal chemical imbalance of fight or flight will become damaging to our well-being and eventually our health will be put at risk.
What can you do about stress?
Meditation helps calm the chatty mind and reduce the physical symptoms of dress and the fight or flight mode (if you only do one thing then make it this).
Eat a healthy diet. The digestive system is very often affected by stress, many of my clients suffer from stress related IBS. Eating a more plant based, protein rich diet will do wonders for your health and wellbeing
Exercise. Any kind of exercise helps reduce the effects of stress. Sometimes fast paced hard exercise such as sprinting will help the body rid itself of the excessive adrenalin it has produced in response to stress. Getting the heart pumping can really help you to relax and sleep well.
Relax. We can manage stress by learning to respond in a healthier way and by relaxation. Meditation, Tai chi, Yoga, going for a walk, massage, reiki or reflexology, taking a bath are some possible relaxation techniques. You need to consciously relax, zoning out in front of the TV with a bottle of red just won’t do (well not every night).
Lyndsey Burton
Holistic Therapist