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.

Making yourself more productive.



Being under pressure at work can be stressful. You have too much to do and you don’t have enough time.

 

Learning the difference between urgent and important is vital if you are to become more productive.


If you are one of the many thousands of us who constantly check your emails, immediately respond to every query from colleagues, clients and even friends then you can’t be concentrating on those things that are important. If something is so urgent, wouldn’t your colleague, client or friend have picked up the phone?

 

Right! So, we now know the emails can wait a while until the important jobs are out of the way. Some people have been known to put an out of office message saying that ‘I will next be checking my emails at 4pm this afternoon, if your email is urgent, please ring me.’ Would that work for you?

 

Equally, are you one of the many thousands of us who write a ‘to-do’ list every day and then pick off the ten easy ones only to wonder what you’ve really achieved – with the important stuff still outstanding?


The difference between urgent and important.

Urgent tasks:

 

There is demand for your immediate attention all the time – daily deadlines, answering phone calls and important texts, emails from your boss, emails from your best clients, social media messages needing a reply. All of these feel important but often some are not.

We are drawn to these tasks because they make us feel wanted and important; people want a reply from us but do they need that reply right now?.

Important tasks:

These can be less dramatic with no alarms or drama like urgent tasks. It’s easy to ignore them. But rather than someone else’s goals, important tasks contribute to your long-term goals whether these are professional or personal and could include hitting those sales figures, completing that project, getting more financially secure, and advancing your career.


If that seems like an easy distinction we’re often quick to confuse the two. If you are checking your email so often but it’s preventing you from getting in the actual work done you mistaking urgency for importance.


What you can do.

Have a look at your to do list each day and grade each task with a ‘u’ or an ‘i’ according to their importance or urgency. Work on the important tasks first and the urgent stuff will get done because it has to be done. If something urgent tries to get your attention ignore it until your important work is done for the day.

 

As US President Dwight Eisenhower once said – “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.”

 

Remember, Mayfair cares

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

Beating Stress


In today's world stress related illnesses are a major issue for many people and there are many and varied ways of alleviating the debilitation that can be caused by stress. They range from lifestyle changes to dietary and mindset ones. Different approaches work for different people and in no particular order of importance or effectiveness we examine a few of them here:

Exercise

Widely recognised as one of the most effective stress – busters, exercise at home, at work or in the gym can lighten your mood and improve your self-esteem. Studies show that healthy and fit people have fewer social anxiety symptoms. Exercise releases endorphins which trigger a positive feeling to the brain so regular exercise can have a very positive and lasting effect in tackling stress and anxiety.

Breathing techniques

Whenever you feel anxiety building take slow deep breaths. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply and concentrate on filling your lungs with that fresh air. Do this for a few minutes and you will find yourself calming down. Deep breathing takes on oxygen which helps to calm your heart rate and stabilise your blood pressure. 

Diet

Eating regular healthy meals and snacks in between meals will help maintain the steady blood sugar level necessary for stabilising your mood. There is a lot of advice available on this subject – much of it contradictory so it is best to go with what works for you. Aim for a balanced diet in the knowledge that Vitamin B-6 is essential in metabolism and its shortage may result in poor brain functioning manifested in mood swings, poor sleeping habits and fatigue. This important vitamin can be perfectly be gained from food sources like poultry, tuna, dairy, beans, lentils, sunflower seeds and carrots among others. But please do your own research.

Have fun

Take your mind off your problems by engaging yourself in your hobby or other interesting activity. Watch your funny videos, arrange to meet with good friends – anything that will distract you and take you away from thinking about yourself. Your reasons for stressing may be long-lasting, but you can choose not to be brought down by the stress.

Green tea

Green tea is full of polyphenols which are required metabolites in the body. Polyphenols like pyrocatechol and flavonoids protect the cells from damage and aging. The antioxidants present in green has been known to have powerful medicinal properties used in treating anxiety and reducing stress levels.

Green tea has the healthy caffeine which does not produce jittery effects. This caffeine improves brain functioning which improves mood. Aside from the caffeine green tea is packed with the amino acid L-thiamine which produces anti-anxiety effects in the users. Studies have proved that green tea helps in calming blood pressure and rising heat effect in the body, which are the factors that spiral anxiety in a person.

Herbs

There are many herbs that can help lighten your mood and reduce your stress and anxiety.

Hops: This is a bitter herb that is sometimes used when brewing beer. You can get this from direct extracts from the plant and through aromatherapy as in the case of treated pillows.

Lavender: Its aroma has some calming effect. It has been used to reduce anxiety of dental patients in the waiting rooms. It also worked for students who inhaled lavender scent before sitting an exam.

Valerian: People take it in form of capsules or spiced solutions. This herb is said to help relieve anxiety and stress symptoms

Insomnia

Lack of sleep is one of the most common issues for people who are stressed. Here are just some tips to tackle insomnia:

  • A regular bedtime routine.
  • Avoid using a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other type of screen before going to sleep.
  • Avoid anything containing caffeine in the evening.
  • Ensure that your bedroom is dark and quiet.
  • Keep a notebook and pen by the bedside to write down any issues that worry you during the night. Deal with them in the morning.
  • Avoid checking the time if you do wake up.
  • Don’t exercise too close to bedtime.
  • Above all, try not to become obsessed with poor sleep patterns. It happens to most people at some stage in their lives.

     Mayfair Cares and we hope that the foregoing stress busting tips are helpful – please add your own ideas about what works for you.

 

With acknowledgement to:

http://www.happify.com/hd/beat-stress-and-boost-happiness-inforgraphic

http://naturalsociety.com/7-natural-anti-anxiety-herbs-to-reduce-stress/