The effects of stress and how we can manage stress on a daily basis...
Define Stress - Any factor which threatens the health of the body or has an adverse effect on its functioning such as injury, disease or worry.
Stress is caused by two things; whether you think a situation around you is worthy of anxiety and how your body reacts to your thought processes. Our instinctive stress response to unexpected events is known as 'fight or flight'.
When we experience stress or the 'fight or flight' response, our bodies go into overdrive. The brain responds by initiating a huge range of responses including the dumping of a variety of chemicals into our bloodstream. Our muscles tense, our heart beats faster, breathing and perspiration increases, our eyes dilate and the stomach may clench. This is our body's natural way of protecting us.
If the stress is not removed, our bodies continue to defend themselves by secreting further hormones which will increase blood sugar levels and raise your blood pressure.
Our bodies eventually reach a state of exhaustion, where they cannot cope any longer with the stress and we run out of energy and our immunity is greatly reduced. Our mental, physical and emotional resources also suffer.
Reduced immunity makes us more susceptible to disease and serious illness, from the common cold to cancer. Prolonged stress means the body runs out of immunity and resources to fight disease. If stress is left unchecked and not dealt with properly, it can lead to health conditions such as:
- Heart attack or stroke
- Difficulty in sleeping or depression
- High or low blood pressure
- Headaches and migraines
- Allergies, IBS, Ulcers
- Sleep problems and more…
How Can We Reduce Stress?
There are many things you can do to try and reduce your stress levels such as:
- Deep breathing - fill your lungs and feel your diaphragm lift, slowly & deeply
- Smile! Even if you don't feel like it - it helps to release happy endorphins J
- Meditate, if only for 10 minutes a day
- Go for a walk, get in touch with nature
- Write a journal to empty and clear your mind
"You are what you eat", so let's improve our diet:
- Avoid processed foods
- Try to eat a healthy breakfast every day
- Take time to eat your food, don't rush
- Watch your caffeine intake
- Eat fresh fruit and vegetables
- Avoid toxins
- Drink water
Massage has been proven to help lower levels of stress and the benefits include the following:
- Lower anxiety levels
- Improved sleep patterns
- A boost in energy levels
- Improved levels of concentration
- An increase of flow to the circulatory system
- Reduced fatigue
- A feeling of well-being and good health
- More postural awareness
Exercise helps our well-being and gives us a glow. It has a positive effect on our bodies, increases our blood flow and stimulates the nervous system. Exercise gives you a natural 'high'. Keeping your body moving helps reduce the effects of tight muscles and tissues. 30 minutes a day is all it takes!
For more in-depth information about reducing stress levels, you can follow Body Belle and receive tips and advice regularly on Facebook, Twitter and our Blog.