Stress has the ability to drain our energy tank or energise us – it’s about finding the right balance in YOUR life!
Stress is a normal response to the challenges we face in our daily lives, however being highly stressed all the time can have a major impact on your health (making it hard to reach your health goals).
BUT did you know: not having enough stress can also hinder your health too, leaving you feeling lethargic, unfocused and bored with life… Stress affects us all differently, ones unpleasant experience may be someone else’s thrill seeking adventure. The key is to find your “stress sweet spot”, just enough to keep you energised and alert, however not so much to cause burn out.
In today’s modern life, it is more likely that we can become over whelmed with everyday life stressors such as work, family, health, finances, traffic, the list goes on…
Too much stress can have an impact on almost every system of the body...
The body responds to stress by releasing hormones and increased breathing and heart rate, this response is designed to protect the body during a "perceived threat".
Central Nervous System
The central nervous system (CNS) is responsible for your "fight or flight" response - during a fight or flight response the adrenal glands release adrenaline and cortisol. Extended periods of stress (perceived threat) can take a toll on the body through, anxiety, poor sleep, headaches and weight gain.
Under stress the body produces extra glucose (energy boost), this unused glucose is then reabsorbed, constant stress may cause weight gain or increase risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The change in hormone balance and increased breathing and heart rate can also upset the digestive system - you'll be more likely to reflux or indigestion. Stress can also affect the rate at which food moves through your digestive system, potentially leading to constipation or diarrhea.
During stress, your muscles will tighten to protect you from injury, constant stress and constant tight muscles may cause headaches, neck, shoulder and back pain.
Stress can affect our sex hormones, in women it may affect menstrual cycle or cause heavier, more painful periods. Menopausal symptoms may develop under chronic stress.
In males chronic stress may cause a drop in testosterone levels, affecting sperm production and fertility and/or cause erectile dysfunction.
Chronic stress over time can compromise your immune system and inhibiting some immune responses, you may be more susceptible to viral and bacterial infections and increasing recovery time.
To avoid stress becoming a detriment to your health, here is our top tips to managing you stress;
- Eat well – eating a nutritious well-balanced diet will help you feel better in general, it will help control your mood and energy levels. It is important that you don’t forget to listen to your hunger signals when you’re stressed. Emotional eating or forgetting to eat during significant stress is common, however it doesn’t help control stress.
- Exercise – exercising is a great way to relax your body and clear your mind. Plus exercise will boost you mood
- Meditation – taking time to relax, clear you mind and focus on breathing can minimise stress instantly. Check out the apps available to download with guided meditations (headspace is a good one).
- Take a break – schedule in down time for yourself, give your mind and body time away from stress and its triggers (this can be as simple as taking time for 10 minutes of meditation, reading a book for 30 minutes, book in a massage, listening to music, exercise/sport, take up a hobby) whatever helps you to de-stress!
- Write lists - Try prioritize your jobs, you may find many are not so urgent, giving you more time to breathe.
- Slow down – life can be so busy with what seems like too much do to and not enough hours in the day to get it done. Refer to #4 and #5, prioritize your jobs and don't forget to make time for yourself!
- Don’t waste energy stressing about things out of your control – a lot easier said than done, I know!