How stressed am I?

 

Stress can be both a good thing and a bad thing but what is it really doing to our physical health if we are stressed on a constant basis day after day?

Most of us know that certain lifestyle habits such as smoking or lack of exercise could jeopardise our health but what we do need to pay more attention to his stress. If switched on for too long stress can wreak havoc on our physical and mental wellbeing and by learning how chronic stress affects our mind and body our awareness will identify the importance of finding ways to reduce the stress load.

Hormone levels

The stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, speed up your heartbeat and send blood rushing to the areas where it is needed most in an emergency. Typically, this will be muscles, heart and other important to organs. But when these hormones remain high due to persistent low level stress, they do affect most areas of the body.

Digestion 

Most of us occasionally suffer from butterflies in the stomach! This is caused by nerve endings and immune cells in the digestive tract when they’re affected by stress hormones. It is no surprise that stress affects your digestive system in other ways as well therefore, for instance, acid reflux as well as exacerbating symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.

Heart

Under stress your heart pumps faster. The stress hormones cause your blood vessels to constrict and divert oxygen away from the extremities and towards your muscles to help you move quickly. This raises your blood pressure. When your blood pressure rises so does your risk of stroke and heart attack.

Sleep

When you’re stressed you’re probably not sleeping well, but stress can affect sleep in other ways - in particular if you’re producing stress hormones. Normally cortisol rises in the morning to wake you up and declines through the day but when you’re constantly under stress this pattern can change, meaning that you wake up tired but can be buzzing at bedtime. Has this happened to you?

Diabetes.

Although little is known about how stress contributes to the diabetes risk, one theory is that cortisol alters the body’s sensitivity to insulin which makes stress a risk factor for diabetes. Studies have looked at stress as a pathway to developing diabetes and found evidence that chronic stress can initiate changes in the immune system that may result, or increase the likelihood of, develop developing type two diabetes

Cancer

Health experts can’t agree whether or not stress causes cancer and most of the large-scale studies are inconclusive. However, stressful situations can lead us to develop unhealthy habits such as smoking, overeating and heavy drinking, these are habits which do increase the risk of cancer.

Brain.

As anyone who has frozen in the middle of a speech knows, stress reduces your ability to recall information. What is less known is that over time, chronic stress can lead to memory impairment; in fact they can shrink your hippocampus which is the part of the brain that regulates in motion.

If you are stressed about your stress levels then please visit your doctor.

Remember, Mayfair we care.

Degrees of stress

 

As we have all heard, stress is not always bad for you, but this depends upon the degree of stress you are under. For instance, in life threatening situations stress can save our lives by helping us escape danger thanks to our flight or fight response. However in the modern world stress is triggered far more frequently than it ever used to be and can eventually make us ill.

We know that we don’t feel good when we are in distress but do we really know what it’s doing to our physical health on a day by day basis. If we are constantly under stress how does this affect our mind and body and how can we find ways to manage this situation?

Hormones.

The stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline speed up your heartbeat and send blood rushing to the areas that need it most. This is good in an emergency but when these hormone levels remain high due to constant stress they will affect most areas of the body.

Butterflies.

Most of us experience butterflies in the stomach brought on by situations such as interviews, sports contests, exams and many other situations. This is perfectly natural. However if this is happening on a constant basis it can affect the digestive system. For instance, acid reflux as well as exacerbating symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease are possible.

Your heart

Under stress your heart pumps faster. This can raise your blood pressure and when your blood pressure rises so does your risk of a stroke and heart attack.

Sleep patterns.

When you’re stressed, you’re probably not sleeping particularly well because stress affects sleep as you end up overproducing stress hormones.

Normally cortisol rises in the morning to wake you up and lowers through the day, but when you are constantly under stress this pattern can change meaning you will wake up tired but be buzzing at bedtime.

Diabetes.

Little is known about how stress contributes to the diabetes risk. One theory is that cortisol alters the bodies sensitivity to insulin making stress a risk factor for diabetes.

Cancer.

Health experts are in dispute over whether stress causes cancer and no large-scale study has been able to prove a direct link. However, stressful situations can lead us to develop unhealthy habits such as smoking, overeating and heavy drinking, all of which can increase the risk of cancer.

So what can we do?

Here are some stress busting tips that are easy to achieve and implement.

Time out. This is the most effective stress buster. For 15 minutes a day stop everything and be selfish. Schedule some me time and do whatever makes you happy.

Exercise. Exercises will assist stopping the buildup of stress. If you take a brisk walk shortly after feeling stressed this will deepen your breathing and help to relieve muscle tension. Other activities such as yoga and tai chi combine fluid movements with deep breathing and mental focus. This has a calming effect on your nervous system.

See people. Loneliness is a major cause of stress. Try to spend time in the company of others by joining a club or simply picking up the phone and talking to a good friend.

If in doubt. When stress becomes overwhelming then the short answer to this is to see your Doctor who will assess you and point you in the right direction. So much more is known about stress and its causes these days that doctors are far more adept at being able to help than ever before.

Remember, Mayfair, we care.

Five health problems caused by stress



Stress can be a contributory cause to many conditions experienced by society today Some of these issues are widely known but others may come as a surprise and we examine five as well as two coping mechanisms that we hope will help. 

Depression and anxiety.

It is absolutely no surprise that stress is related to depression and anxiety. Stressful relationships, either at home or in the workplace will create the likelihood that sufferers will develop depression and, or anxiety, more so than those people who are less stressed.

Headaches.

It is widely recognised that stress is one of the most common causes of chronic migraines and tension headaches. Both are debilitating conditions and add to the likelihood of depression and anxiety developing.

Diabetes.

Stress can create unhealthy habits such as comfort eating and excess alcohol intake. In extreme cases, such habits if not brought under control can lead to obesity and diabetic conditions.

Heart conditions.

It is widely believed that stress contributes to heart problems brought on by high blood pressure. This, coupled with bad habits such as excess eating, drinking, and possibly smoking, will all contribute to the risk of heart attacks.

Early death.


Research has indicated that people under a great deal of stress are over 60% more likely to die at a younger age than those who are less stressed.

So what can we do?

We have written before on the subject of stress management and refer you to those articles below this one. In short, there is no easy fix. It takes effort and time to battle stress but here are two tips that work for many people.

Deep Breathing.

Deep breathing for several minutes at moments of high anxiety can relieve the situation to a degree.

If suffering from a panic attack, one technique is to use a small paper bag and breathe into it filling up the bag completely when exhaling, then another deep breath and fill the bag again. Do this until the feelings pass.

 

This is a widely used technique, not only for panic attacks but for more general stress relief during the day, several minutes of deep breathing four times a day can produce positive results over a period of time.


Avoid Catastrophising by using Perspective. 

If suffering from stress and feeling low many people have the tendency to catastrophise. For example; is this headache a brain tumour? Is that twinge in the chest a heart attack? Is that nasty cough A symptom of something far worse?
Many people do this and if it happens have this conversation with yourself:

“What’s the worst thing that could happen to me?“.

               Answer “well, I could die.“

“Yes of course you could put has this feeling happened before?”

               Answer “yes, it has!"

“And are you still alive?“

               Answer “Yes I am!"

“Well then just console yourself with the fact that the feeling, however unpleasant and frightening, will pass."

 

Please be aware that we would always encourage anyone suffering from a stress related condition to seek professional medical advice.


Good luck!

 

Mayfair, we care.

Important Tips for Reducing Stress During This Holiday Period and into 2018



As we approach 2018, the last thing that anyone would want is to imagine carrying over the frustration, depression and anything else that disappointed them during 2017.

 

Luckily, we always have a festive season towards the end of the year which provides everybody with ample time to reflect on the year, forget about anything that happened, have fun with their loved ones and end the year on high note. Stress is a normal thing especially towards the year-end considering all the many things you've been through, but depending on how you deal with it, you can either carry it forward or resolve to have a better 2018.

 

This article will, therefore, take you through a few tips for reducing stress during this festive season and start your 2018 as a rejuvenated person.

Focus on all the positive things that you achieved:

 

One mistake that most make is letting all the negative things take up much of your thinking. The way your mind responds is directly dependent on the type of information that you feed it; as a result, if you choose to focus on the negative things, it will automatically lead to more stress and depression. However, if you choose to appreciate all the positive things that you achieved during the year, you will not only be reducing stress but you will also feel more relaxed and energized to start the following year. 

 

Surround yourself with positive people:


Yes, you’ve probably heard this one before but it’s true. Attitude is like the common cold – it’s infectious! By mixing with people who have a positive attitude to life you will find that positivity wearing off on you. Conversely, if you mix with negative people……..well, you know what will happen.

 

Spend ample time with your loved ones:

 

Usually, during the year, we indulge in a lot of activities which doesn’t always involve those closest to us. Try to stay close to your loved ones at this time of year because you can make them feel appreciated, happy and comfortable and they can do likewise for you.

 

Observe your diet:

 

When one has stress, there is a high likelihood that you would default to alcohol or overeating. This is a very common habit among a good number of people under stress especially during this festive seasons where there is a lot of parties.

 

This can be fun while it lasts but come January 2018, reality will catch up with you, trust me, you don't want to start your year that way. To avoid such frustrations, work on your diet, make sure that your diet programs are full of vitamins and minerals salts. Besides, despite the fact that there may have a lot of parties which only comes ones in a year, avoid binging, just take enough and enjoy.

Engage in exercises:

 

When you've been stressed towards the year-end, workouts may be a perfect way to keep such problems at bay during this festive season. There are a lot of activities that you can engage ranging from swimming, going for hikes with your loved ones or friends, mountain climbing, cycling among others. Such exercises, will not only help you achieve body fitness but will also help you in reducing stress as kick-start the year 2018.

 

Mayfair, we care.

Dealing with Digital Fatigue


As technology advances, people of all ages spend more and more time glued to their digital screens.

Some can spend up to 9 hours of their day working and / or playing on their screens. This eventually causes their eyes to become exhausted from such long hours of exposure and may cause a condition known as digital fatigue.

What is digital fatigue?

This is an eye and vision related problem that is caused by the extensive use of common digital devices such as computers, TVs, e-readers, and tablets. This eventually leads to fatigue or blurred vision, dryness, eye irritation and more.

Effects of digital fatigue

The eyes contain the strongest muscles in the body. However, if you subject them to too much work by sitting in front of a TV or computer, they can become strained and tired. Lifestyle changes, coupled with modern ways of working, forces people to spend extended hours in close range activities engaged with a screen.

Some knock on effects include:

  • Reduction in productivity

Digital fatigue may cause your body to suffer eyestrain, neck, shoulder and back pain. You will not be able to work to the best of your ability with an aching body.

  • Inability to concentrate

Spending too much time looking at your digital devices may cause eye fatigue and headaches. These conditions may result in the reduction of concentration. 

  • Poor visual health

Most digital devices emit harmful blue-violet light that damages eyesight in the end. You may start experiencing eye fatigue, blurry vision, and dry eyes. 

  • Migraines

Digital fatigue may cause you headaches. These headaches can be accompanied by associated symptoms such as nausea and sensitivity to light. You may also experience flashing dots, wavy lines, and temporary blindness due to this migraine. 

What can be done about digital fatigue?

1. Eyewear

There are different types of eyewear with lenses that help reduce digital fatigue. These lenses can be incorporated into any pair of glasses. Those already wearing glasses should also consider getting a current prescription that includes the unique visual demands when using a digital screen.

2. Annual eye exam

Getting regular eye care will help prevent or reduce the development of digital fatigue.

3. Take breaks from using digital devices

Ensure that you do not get too close to a screen or spend too many hours behind one. Rest your eyes after every 2 hours of continuous digital screen use, for at least 15 minutes. 

4. Have a digital holiday

Try to set aside blocks of time like the weekend when you can get away from your screens completely. If going on holiday, leave the screens at home and use your phone as a phone and not a communications centre

Summary

The extent to which you will experience digital fatigue will depend on how much time you spend looking into your digital screen. Ensure that you visit your health professional as soon as you start experiencing the symptoms outlined above. Otherwise, if you do not use them, they might worsen with extended digital screen use.

And remember, Mayfair Cares.

https://www.thevisioncouncil.org/content/digital-eye-strain/teens

http://thinkaboutyoureyes.com/articles/eye-problems-diseases/digital-fatigue

https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/protecting-your-vision/computer-vision-syndrome?sso=y

The benefits of listening


 

It is Mental Health Awareness month and we want to emphasise how little things can go a long way in making people feel better about themselves – we examine the importance of listening first up.

A friend in need

If you are more of a listener than a talker, you've probably been told on more than one occasion that you're a good friend.

When you take the time to listen you're giving the other person your full attention, which is often all that is needed. But there are other good reasons to stop and listen more.

Are you feeling down?

Pop in your ear phones during your lunch break and go for a walk. Researchers found that listening to music can lift your mood.

The best type of music to listen to? One study found those who listened to tunes that were ‘beautiful but sad’ noticed the greatest improvement in their mood.

Need to focus?

If you're studying after work it can be very hard to concentrate. Listening to the sound of birds singing could be the answer according to a study. It works because birdsong has been shown to relax you physically and stimulate your brain at the same time. Exactly the state of mind you need to be into focus.

You can try this out with an app called study available free from the App Store and Google play.

Workplace stress?

Listening can play an important role in helping you defuse tension at work. Most people appreciate having supportive and understanding colleagues. Whether you're a manager or a team member others will find great value in having a person around to actively listens and shows understanding.

Listening is a skill – here are some pointers.

  • Pay attention – face the speaker and give them your undivided attention. Don't look at your Watch phone or other people.
  • Be attentive but relaxed - it's okay to look around from time to time when you're while you're listening. Too much I contact can be unnerving for the person doing the talking.
  • Keep an open mind – listen without judgement or jumping to conclusions.
  • Don't interrupt or offer solutions – if someone wants advice they last for it.
  • Give regular feedback – nodding, smiling or using words and sounds of encouragement will make the talker aware that you're actively listening

‘When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen’ – Ernest Hemingway

Remember, Mayfair cares

 

Stress related illness and its impact

 

Nobody and no body is immune to stress; it affects both the mind and body. It impacts overall health and well-being and stress can be accentuated at this time of the year.

 

If left unmanaged and unchecked stress can lead to an increased risk of both mental & physical problems, such as infection, illness, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, as well as depressive and anxiety disorders. 

In the UK the total number of cases of stress depression or anxiety in 2016 was 488,000, 37% of a total of all work-related illnesses, resulting in a loss of 11.7 million working days, (HSE statistics).

Stress is debilitating and damaging stress and impacts on ALL of your daily life, work, work colleagues, friends and family. Sometimes it is profound and immediate; that is when people recognise and understand that they are stressed, or when a friend or family member brings it up.  Conversely when stress begins to build up over a period of time, it is less pronounced and potentially more damaging.

Not so long ago in  2012 over 30% of NHS staff reported they had experienced stress related to their jobs last year – a rise from 29 per cent in 2010, (ISMA). Astonishingly, teachers are amongst the highest professions to feel stress. And in 2014 Channel 4 reported that there had been an 80% increase in teachers committing suicide. The increase meant that suicide figures for teachers are now 30 to 40% higher than the national average, (Julian Stanley).

Is it that people are becoming stressed because of work, family events, finances, colleagues, (peers, subordinates and superiors) or is it something else?

Does it really matter?

The point is that negative stress in the workplace or anywhere is unwanted.

Is this you?

Could it be you?

Find out now!

What Can We Do to Help Ourselves?

Start with self assessment.

Sit down in a quiet place, somewhere where you will not be disturbed for 10-15 minutes. Sit comfortably and relax by breathing deeply and evenly, in through the nose and out through the mouth five or 6 times. Start some self-reflection.

  •            How are you feeling now? Irritated, annoyed, tense…?
  • ·         Try and identify that which is causing that irritation, annoyance or tenseness.
  • ·         When you have, evaluate it, be truthful with yourself.
  • ·         Where (home, work etc.) does it feel more severe?
  • ·         What can you do now to relieve that unwanted feeling?
  • ·         How can you stop it returning?
  • ·         Who can help, if you feel you need it?

 If you thought that a holiday was all you needed and you are away at the moment filled with dread at the thought of the holiday ending and you returning to work, then you do need to seek professional help.

There is a variety of help available and sometimes advice about a simple change of lifestyle is all that it may take but please don’t suffer in silence, seek help as soon as you are aware something may be wrong.

And remember – Mayfair Cares.

 

http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress/

 

http://www.isma.org.uk/about-stress/facts-about-stress/#.U85kwIBdXCk

Nomophobia - why is this becoming a real problem in today's society?

 

90% of the Americans at least own a cell phone. 58% of them are Smartphone users. This is according to the research carried by the Pew Research Center. Nomophobia is a name given to Smartphone addiction which is gradually creeping and drifting away most youths and adults alike. SecurEnvoy reports that nomophobia or no-mobile-phobia is common with young people aged 18-24 years followed by those in the age bracket of 25-34 years. Regarding gender, women are more nomophobic (fear losing their smartphones) with 70% while men are 61% nomophobic. Further reports show that men are more likely to own two Smartphones.

Signs of nomophobia

If you find that you are incapable of turning off your Smartphone, or you regularly check for missed calls or new emails and can’t bear to see the battery running down if you have no way of recharging it, then the chances are high that you are Nomophobic. Some nomophobics can’t even think about leaving their Smartphones behind when going to the bathroom. 

Why is nomophobia becoming a major issue of concern?

According to a study done at the Iowa State University, this is how students felt when separated from their Smartphone:

  • They lose connection to their online identity
  •  Cannot communicate with their friends / clients
  •  Lose access to information on what happens around them
  •  Sense of isolation and inconvenience

When some people are separated from their Smartphone, they can feel panicky and desperate with an inability to focus on even the most routine of tasks.

It is not a surprise that a huge percentage of people develop a full-blown psychological attachment to their smartphones. Maybe we can attribute nomophobia to the smartphone portability, easy access to the internet, and availability.  

Though mobile technology has enabled us to accomplish most day to day tasks with much greater efficiency, the downside is that it poses risks to our health. Nomophobia is a small portion of the larger problem. The quicker you get access to smartphones, the more the nomophobia intoxication you get.

So, far there are no certified nomophobia practitioners to save us from this condition of despair. The consequences of nomophobia vary from one individual to another. Panic, depression, and recurring anxiety attacks have become the order of the day with youths who lose their cell phones.

Accidents happen due to drivers paying much of their attention to their cell phones. Dr. Sanjay Dixit, the head of Indian Journal of Community Medicine confirms that nomophobes cause about 25% of the accidents.

You will probable have heard of tennis elbow and housemaids knee but have you heard of ‘textthumb’?! Excessive texting accounts for 20% of the thumb pains among the nomophobes. 

Solutions

Is there a way we can tackle nomophobia? To some extent, although it is both obvious and sensible, switching off your phone when driving and when doing other tasks requiring your concentration can help.

The Facebook likes and the shared Tweets received also encourage a constant check on the Smartphone because they provide a feeling of self-importance and reassurance to the insecure which, although in most cases are irrelevant, can increase nomophobia.

Mayfair cares and would like your opinion on this growing trend.