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 levelsThe 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.
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
SleepWhen 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
CancerHealth 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
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
If you are stressed about your stress levels then please visit
Remember, Mayfair we care.
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.