Is stress making you sick?
The fact is a small amount of stress is good for us. It helps to motivate and focus us on achieving a goal or target. The problem is, we were never designed for chronic stress. Actually, we evolved to use the stress response to survive. The thing is we no longer live in caves and we are not running away from saber-toothed tigers, so really it is more a hindrance than a help.
When we are under stress our bodies actually think it is under attack and as a result it goes into something we call the fight, flight or freeze mode. Our body then releases lots of different chemicals, such as adrenaline and cortisol. These are chemicals that get us ready for action. When this happens the body naturally diverts blood to certain muscles and shutting down other bodily functions, like our digestion. So when we are stressed and that stress becomes chronic, it can affect us by causing things like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), skin irritations and an increase in weight around our tummy area. This increase in weight has a knock on affect in causing increased rates of heart attacks, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Stress is also an increasingly common trigger for migraine headaches, anxiety and depression.
How can we break the stress cycle?
More often than not we tend not to deal with stress until it becomes overwhelming. However, if we learn certain tools and strategies to help us deal with stress right away, we can feel better and improve our health. “By learning to reorganise the thoughts and feelings of stress early, you can break the stress cycle before it starts”.
The following strategies can help:
1. Setting limits on technology
In this constantly busy world of ours it is easy to be jumping from mobile phones back to computers, checking emails, messages. Set yourself a time when you turn it all off to let your mind wind down.
2. Avoid stimulants
When you are stressed, your body becomes naturally stimulated to go into fight or flight, so reducing things like coffee and alcohol will help reduce the stressed state. Drinking plenty of water keeps you hydrated and helps reduce the stress levels.
3. Go for a walk
Step outside and get some fresh air. Research shows that walking can reduce stress hormones, boost your feel good endorphins and help to take your mind off your worries.
4. Try a bit of self-meditation
Take yourself away somewhere quiet for five minutes and allow yourself to just focus on your breathing and allow yourself to be in that moment.
5. Allow yourself downtime
These days if we are not busy all the time, we think of ourselves as being lazy. In fact, downtime eases the sense of being overwhelmed and it gives our brains time to make new connections that help us provide solutions, rather than focusing on the problem.
6. Being able to say no
Sometimes we need to just say no and not feel guilty.
7. Gaining a good night`s sleep
Allow your body and mind to relax before going to bed. Create a wind down routine. Perhaps like taking a warm bath, listening to music or reading something light to assist your drifting off.
Hypnotherapy is a very effective method for dealing with stress. It helps you understand and manage your emotions in positive ways to help relieve stress. It can assist you to communicate better, overcome challenges and negative thoughts. It can help you to have clarity and develop new, healthier ways of thinking and feeling. By doing this you can learn to cope with the stresses that life brings.
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About Hayley Kiemel
Hayley Kiemel DHP. HPD AfSFH MNCH LAPHP. Whitefield, Prestwich, Hale Greater Manchester.
Hayley runs Insight Hypnotherapy and is a clinical hypnotherapist based in Manchester,
she sees clients for insomnia self-esteem confidence and anxiety issues but also for a range of other issues including smoking cessation, fear of flying & exam performance.