Stress Heads – Managing Stress

Stress Heads – Managing Stress

my usual stress response

I’m sat in bed stewing over my stressed pregnant friend. A brave, clever, dynamic woman who is risking it all to set up a business and invest everything she has financially and emotionally to make it happen. We speak almost daily, we talk about pretty much everything – business, food, sex, Christmas trees, the important stuff. And each day I hear her cramming work in to the few precious hours she has before the babysitter goes home and mothering duties take over. And I hear her ridiculously high stress levels, I hear her worry, the constant planning and analysing, I hear the exhaustion and I feel powerless to do anything about it.

Stress is the single biggest cause of disease in the country. Human beings are not designed to take on the levels of chronic, constant stress that we experience in 2011.  Back in the day when we would have been chased by lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) our bodies would produce hormones adrenaline and cortisol – the fight or flight response – we’d either decide to take on the beast or run like pansies in the opposite direction. Our heart rate would speed up, digestion would slow, blood flow would flood to major muscle groups and the body would receive a burst of energy and strengthen to protect itself. The adrenaline response is an immediate one then the cortisol kicks in and is designed to sustain this response for as long as it’s needed.  Once the danger was gone the body would return to its normal resting state.

However these days there are no actual lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) to fight but our bodies still feel under constant attack. It’s just a very different kind of attack. Rushing to get to work, frustration in traffic jams, busy lifestyles, worry over bills, poor diets, high caffeine, even loud pumping music and video games release these hormones into the bloodstream. All these stresses create the same fight or flight response in the body and we are never returning to a lovely relaxed state. Poor bodies.

What are the symptoms of knackered adrenals?

  • Impaired cognitive performance
  • Blood sugar imbalances (body craves sugar to produce hormone responses)
  • Decreased bone density and muscle tissue
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body
  • Increased fat in the body
  • Insomnia and sleep problems
  • Digestive complaints
  • Nervous, jiggly legs
  • Irritability
  • Hormone issues

Oh the list goes on. So many conditions are caused by too much stress. So here are my four top tips for reducing stress

  1. Every single day make sure you take at least 10 minutes to sit quietly, eyes closed and focus on your breathing. Breathe into the belly. This is where the adrenal glands are (just on top of the kidneys), keep asking the body to relax with each breath
  2. Take a vitamin B complex – known as the stress vitamin. It supports the nervous system. I recommend Nutricalm, it’s a wonderful combination of vitamin B, vitamin C and chamomile helping to relax and de-stress the body.
  3. Become aware that your health will suffer if you continue with high stress so look at ways of changing your lifestyle. Identify the key stress factors and begin to discuss ways of managing them. Even simply talking and acknowledging problems can help reduce stress.
  4. Take up Enya

My friend is finally taking some much needed time off to put up her Christmas tree today. My recommendation? Hug the tree. A brilliant cure for all ills.

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