Understanding the Stress Response

Understanding the Stress Response

What is Stress?

Stress can be described as pressure we feel when the demands placed on us exceed our resources. Sometimes, this can be positive and stress can be used as a motivational force for example – helping us meet deadlines or react in dangerous situations. Other times, stress can threaten our wellbeing and challenge our ability to cope with everyday life.

There are multiple sources of stressors – environmental, emotional, chemical & nutritional. Some examples include: moving house, financial worries, loss, pregnancy, excess alcohol or vitamin deficiencies.

When you are exposed to stress, your body reacts in a few different ways. Firstly, it has a short-term response (often known as the flight or fight reaction) which helps you to cope with any immediate threats. Your body releases hormones which increase heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar levels while diverting blood to the essential organs like the heart and brain.

If the stress is maintained, so is the body’s stress response. This adaptation to stress causes continued increased blood pressure, increased blood sugar levels, poor digestion, inflammation and a weakened immune system.

If the stress continues long-term, the body becomes exhausted and depleted. Drained of resources, there often can be a worsening of any ongoing health complaints or recurring illnesses. People often experience a type of ‘burnout’ and are forced to rest due to ill health.

If you are suffering from stress, you might be experiencing a combination of some of the following symptoms;

  • feeling overwhelmed, irritable, ‘wound up’, anxious, scared or lacking in self-esteem
  • You might find that you are constantly worrying, find it difficult to make decisions or concentrate
  • Physically, you could be suffering from headaches, muscular pain, dizziness, tiredness and trouble sleeping

Often in our everyday lives, we are exposed to at least one stressor and we adapt and cope with this. However many of us have to respond to multiple sources of stress on a daily basis. This has a massive impact on our ability to cope and, over time, leads to the deterioration of our ability to manage stress.                

Coping mechanisms

  • Becoming aware of our reaction to stress
  • Talk to someone about your feelings and concerns, don’t be afraid to ask for help or speak honestly about your problems
  • Try to maintain healthy habits like exercising (swimming, yin yoga, cycling or brisk walking are especially recommended) and eating a balanced diet
  • Prioritise the things most important to you and try to eliminate the less important things
  • Making time for fun and relaxation

Recovering from Stress & How Reflexology can help

Reflexology aims to restore and maintain the body’s natural balance (homeostasis) which is disturbed by the effects of stress. Reflexology calms the mind, body and emotions allowing harmony to be restored to the body systems.

Relaxation affects the body in the following ways:

  • Decreasing adrenaline levels, blood sugar levels & cholesterol levels
  • Increasing immune system functioning
  • Calming emotions
  • Reduces muscular tension
  • Improving digestive system functioning
  • Slowing breathing, increasing lung function

The effects last much longer than your treatment duration, often still being felt days and weeks afterward. Coupled with lifestyle changes and other appropriate care, reflexology can be a long-term solution to stress and anxiety.

Click here to book an appointment to help manage stress.


Categories: Stress, Womens Health
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Five Simple Ways To Improve Your Wellbeing This Spring

Five Simple Ways To Improve Your Wellbeing This Spring

Spring is officially here! I love everything about this transitional time of the year – the first bulbs that poke their way out of the earth, the lighter days and the longer nights. But more than any of this, I love the energy of spring. It’s the time of year when we start to feel more optimistic as we cautiously head out of winter and into the new season. Spring feels like a promise of better things to come and I find it easier to make changes to my habits and routines at this time of year. Below you will find the five things that I’ll be doing over the next few months to improve my wellbeing this spring season.

  1. Eating more fruit and veg!  As the chilly winter weather starts to dissipate, I don’t feel the need to fortify myself with as many heavy stews and soups as I did over the winter. For me, warmer weather = salad. This website has a calendar showing what is in season in Scotland for each month of the year which is really helpful in preparing your meals.
  2. Use the optimistic energy of spring to renew resolutions made in winter over the new year. It can be hard to stick to those plans of exercising more and eating healthily when all you want to do is hibernate so why not use the new season as a chance to revisit your resolutions? You could try a new outdoor exercise class or recipe.
  3. Spring clean! This can apply to anything in your life. Declutter your home, open the windows and let out stagnant energy. Work in your garden or spring clean your wardrobe by repairing and storing your winter clothes and accessories so that they are ready to go next year. Then, update your wardrobe with some new season touches if needed.
  4. Connect with loved ones. The longer days and lighter nights mean more opportunity to socialise and spend time with friends and family.
  5. Bring some joy into your everyday life – appreciate the spring blooms, enjoy the seasonal fruit & veg and notice how the lighter mornings make you feel more awake each day.

Let me know what you thought of my tips and comment below with any suggestions of your own!

 

Categories: Holistic Health
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