Reducing Stress... Ha! Yeah right!!
STRESS! This thing! It's so easy to not notice being / feeling stressed that some of us miss the signs. Listening to the body is one of the most important things we can do, it's our temple, if we don't take care of it, then who will?
What is stress?
Stress is our body’s response to pressures from challenging situations in life. It can be a feeling of being overwhelmed or under pressure. It’s normal to feel like this sometimes and a certain amount of stress can be healthy. But if you’re feeling like this more and more over time and you’re struggling to cope, it’s time to make some changes. Stress itself isn’t a mental health condition, but it’s a sign that something is wrong.
What's the difference between stress and anxiety? Stress and anxiety can have similar symptoms so it can be hard to spot the difference. Stress can be your body’s response to a trigger and is likely to be short-term. Typical triggers could be a job interview or a busy day at work. Anxiety can be caused by stress. It’s a long-term feeling that usually doesn’t go away quickly. Anxiety can affect your ability to go to work, socialise, leave your home and cope with everyday life.
In a blog written by Cleveland Clinic; 'the body’s autonomic nervous system controls your heart rate, breathing, vision changes and more. Its built-in stress response, the “fight-or-flight response,” helps the body face stressful situations. When a person has long-term (chronic) stress, continued activation of the stress response causes wear and tear on the body. Physical, emotional and behavioural symptoms develop. Physical symptoms of stress include:
Aches and pains
Chest pain or a feeling like your heart is racing
Exhaustion or trouble sleeping
Headaches, dizziness or shaking
High blood pressure
Muscle tension or jaw clenching
Stomach or digestive problems
Trouble having sex
Weak immune system'
How do I know if I’m stressed?
Our minds and bodies have ways of letting us know if stress is becoming too much. Stress can affect you physically, emotionally and change your behaviour.
Emotional symptoms include:
feeling upset and tearful
feeling scared, anxious, panicked or worried
getting easily angry and having a ‘short fuse’
feeling alone or hopeless
feeling numb and uninterested in life.
Physical symptoms include:
being aware of your heart beating fast (palpitations)
headaches, odd pains, feeling dizzy or sick
tiredness or trouble sleeping
poor appetite or comfort eating
sudden weight loss or gain.
Behavioural symptoms include:
frequent bad temper and lack of patience.
What causes stress?
Recognising and understanding what’s making you stressed is the first step to reducing your stress levels. Stress is usually caused by events or situations in your life. It can be hard to pinpoint exactly what’s causing your stress as it could be a build-up of lots of little events or one big one.
Common causes of stress include:
major life events
relationships and family life
How does stress increase your risk of heart and circulatory diseases?
Stress alone won’t cause a heart and circulatory disease. But it is linked to unhealthy habits that can increase your risk.
In the moment, these things can temporarily reduce your stress. But if you do too much of them in the long run, it can damage your heart health. It’s normal for your blood pressure to increase for a short time if you’re feeling stressed.
When you’re stressed your body releases hormones like adrenaline, the ‘fight or flight’ hormone. Adrenaline makes your heart beat faster and your blood pressure rise as a way of helping your body cope with the situation.
Once stress has passed, your blood pressure should go back to normal.
Unhealthy habits linked to stress, like eating unhealthily and drinking too much alcohol can cause long-term high blood pressure.
High blood pressure can damage your heart, major organs and arteries over time. This damage can increase your risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases.
Who is affected by stress?
All of us can probably recognise some of the feelings described above. Some people seem to be more affected by stress than others. For some people, getting out of the door on time each morning can be a very stressful experience, whereas others may be less affected with a great deal of pressure.
Some people are more likely to experience stressful situations than others. For example:
people with a lot of debt or financial insecurity are more likely to be stressed about money
people from minority ethnic groups or who are LGBTIQ+ are more likely to be stressed about prejudice or discrimination
people with disabilities or long-term health conditions are more likely to be stressed about their health or about stigma associated with their condition.
Stress is the feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure.
British Heart Foundation - Stress
Cleveland Clinic - Stress
Mental Health Foundation - Stress