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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)

  • dry mouth

  • headaches, odd pains, feeling dizzy or sick

  • tiredness or trouble sleeping

  • poor appetite or comfort eating

  • sudden weight loss or gain.

Behavioural symptoms include:

  • skin picking

  • nail biting

  • 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:

  • work

  • major life events

  • change

  • relationships and family life

  • loneliness

  • money worries.

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.

You may be more likely to turn to unhealthy habits such as smoking, eating comfort food that’s typically high in fat or sugar, drinking too much alcohol or not being physically active.

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


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