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.


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