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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
“What’s the worst thing that could happen to
“well, I could die.“
“Yes of course you could put has this feeling
“yes, it has!"
“And are you still alive?“
“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.
Being under pressure at work can be stressful. You have too much to do and you
don’t have enough time.
the difference between urgent and important is vital if you are to become more
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?
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?
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.
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?.
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.
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