Stress levels are on the increase, and effect so many of us, in so many different ways, we have a tendency to use the phrase “I’m feeling really stressed out…………” but do we actually know what it’s all really about?
THE PHYSIOLOGY OF STRESS
Our bodies’ reaction is rooted in out ancestry. In earlier times stress had a survival value. All animals have in their make up the instinct an emergency reaction to emergency situations, getting ourselves out of danger quickly. This is often called the “Flight” or “Fight” reaction, then the mind receives an “alarm call”, the brain sends out different messages to different parts of the body, which immediately prepare for action, this can include some or all of the following:
Muscles become tense, adrenal glands release stress hormones to get the reaction going and sustainable, the heart beats faster, blood pressure raises, the lungs breath faster, stored fats are released, pupils of the eyes dilate- maybe looking sideways for escape, the digestive system slows down. The skin sweats to keep cool, there are also many other changes.
SOURCES OF STRESS
There are many sources of stress, these can include Personal life – relationships, illness, bereavement, race related, financial worries, Colleagues – Inability to create relationships, lack of support, lack of teamwork, bringing home problems from work, anxieties about work, negative or pessimistic attitude to work. Managers, Organisational Issues.
There are a number of ways you can cope with stress, and the more of the following you take on board the better. Just a few small changes will help you to cope so much better.
Diet - ensure you have a balanced diet,
Sleep - Try to keep to a regular sleeping patterns, most people need 7-8 hours, making this a priority will enable you to cope better.
Organise your time - “brainstorm” all you have to do, break them down into top, middle and lower priorities, assign a day by which it need to be completed, Take care not to overload any one day, week or month, be realistic about the time and plan in contingency. Spend 10 minutes at the beginning and end of the day to plan and evaluate your day, and bring the list up to date.
Plan each day - Learn what time of day you are at your most energised – and maximise your activities during this period . Ensure you eat breakfast, this will energise your body – helping you to cope mentally and physically for the day ahead. Ensure you have regular 10 minute rest periods where you totally cut off from work, go for a walk, sit and relax, eat regularly and wisely.
Examine your lifestyle - ask those closest to you what they see could cause you stress, be honest with yourself. Learn to be assertive – Learn to say “no” firmly, do not be worried to admit that you cannot take on everything.
Positive self image - Be aware of those who put you down and challenge them because you are a valuable and worthwhile person.
Practice Mental Detachment – learn to “Switch off” if you are feeling under pressure not knowing where to escape, take yourself mentally somewhere else you would rather be , Practice relaxing all part of your body and mind, find a place in your mind that can become your haven, and do not worry what others think.
Seek support from others – Do not be afraid to ask for help from others, take up hobbies you enjoy, walking, jogging, night classes, sports – swimming, badminton, squash.
Explore new forms of relaxation, yoga, pilates, meditation – you will really reap the rewards and more than pay dividends on other aspects of your life.
Read up on alternative medicines – some of these are natural remedies helping you cope with stress – for example, Bach flower remedies’, hypnotherapy.
Put yourself first - If you are not OK then you will not be much use to others. Take responsibility for putting yourself first, by looking after your own welfare, only then can you effectively help others!
BREATHING - There are a number of exercises you can do to help yourself relax, I am going to tell you about just one of the many available:
1. Sit or lie in a comfortable position, and ensure clothing is loose
2. Put your hand lightly on your abdomen with fingertips touching
3. Thoroughly exhale by drawing the abdomen in so making the fingertips move together
4. Inhale gently through the nose, allowing the diaphragm to lower and abdomen to swell, so parting the fingertips. As the inhalation continues, the lower part of the chest is expanded, so moving the ribs sideways
5. Hold the breath in for a moment, and become aware of the expansion low down in the lungs
6. Exhale from the base of the lungs first. The abdomen will draw in as the diaphragm lifts, and the fingertips will move together. The ribs will relax inwards as the lower lungs empty. Remain for a moment with the lungs empty before repeating the process several times until it begins to feel natural.
In time you will become more comfortable with this exercise, and be able to do it anywhere, some people find it helps if you do this with your eyes closed and concentrate on what is happening
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments!