Blog – Stress
November 2017 Issue 5
This blog provides a brief introduction to stress and its physical and emotional impacts. Stress is the bodies response to physical and emotional demands and pressures placed on it. There is short term stress (acute stress) and long term stress (chronic stress).
Immediate, short term stressor usually result in a normal ‘flight or fight’ response. This is where the sympathetic nervous system trigger the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones impact on our body systems to produce a heightened state of alertness to help us cope with the immediate stressor. Impacts include faster heart rate, dilated pupils, release of glucose into the bloodstream to provide immediate energy and blood is diverted from the digestive system to the muscles. Once the stressor has gone the sympathetic nervous system triggers the release of endorphins to calm the body back to its normal state.
Chronic or long term stress, however, is a situation where the heightened state remains in the ‘on’ position and the ‘off’ switch to restore a normal state does not appear to function. The constant impact of the adrenaline and cortisol has an adverse effect on the heart, digestive system and immune system.
Long term stress can be triggered by ongoing situations including problems in the workplace, family and financial difficulties to name a few.
The UK Labour Force Survey states that around 1.5% of workers had work related stress in 2015/16 resulting in 11.7 million lost working days – 45% of all working days lost due to ill health.
Self help ideas
Have a clear sense of purpose – this provides meaning whether it is spirituality, family, help others or work.
Work/life balance – prioritise time and energy based on what is important
Sleep – insufficient sleep impacts on many body systems including the digestive system and impacts on the ability to focus and concentrate
Healthy eating – eating the right types of food in the right quantities. A Mediterranean diet generally is rich in protein and vegetables and lower in carbohydrates compared to the average UK diet.
Support – getting support from family, friends and work colleagues can help reduce stress.
Exercise – regular exercise such as walking, sports or the gym has a key impact on how the body deals with hormones in terms of eliminating stress hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol or promoting hormones such as endorphins that provide that feel good factor.
Massage and stress reduction
There are now many research studies showing the dramatic impact massage can have on reducing stress in a number of different contexts – whether work-related or health condition specific.
Massage not only reduces the levels of cortisol but also releases endorphins that calms the nervous system and also releases the ‘happy’ hormones serotonin and dopamine.
Regular massage helps the body to maintain normal hormonal function in relation to stress hormones and endorphins.
When was your last massage to reduce stress and lift your mood? Book a massage today on 07504 554936
The impact of chronic stress can be serious – consult your doctor if you experience constant stress for a prolonged period.