Have you experienced stress recently, or at some point during your lifetime? You’re not alone. Stress is a common issue which affects many people. In this article, we explore what stress is, how it affects us and how we can manage it. Read on to find out more.
What is stress?
Stress is the way our bodies react to threatening situations. It is extremely common, with most people experiencing stress at some point in their lives.
When stressed, the body switches to ‘fight or flight’ mode, releasing hormones and chemicals to prepare the body for physical action.
This has helped humans to survive throughout our history, enabling us to fend off attack, run away from danger or deal with high pressure situations.
However, experiencing stress over prolonged periods of time can be detrimental to both our mental and physical health.
How does stress impact our health?
Stress impacts us all differently, both physically and mentally. Some of the negative effects on our mental health can include:
- poor concentration
- memory problems
- loss of libido
Stress can impact our physical health in the following ways:
- muscle tension
- aches and pains
- frequent colds
- skin complaints
- digestive issues
- high blood pressure
Experiencing a lot of stress over a long period of time can lead to a feeling of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion – often called burnout. Chronic stress may also put you at an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
The benefits of keeping stress levels down
As well as avoiding the negative impacts of stress mentioned above, there are many additional benefits to keeping stress levels at manageable levels, including:
- Better quality sleep
- Improved mood
- Finding it easier to control your weight
- Getting ill less often
- Less muscle tension
- Improved relationships with family, friends and colleagues.
How can I manage stress?
The NHS recommend the following 6 actions to help deal with stress:
- Split up big tasks – if a task appears overwhelming, split it up into smaller chunks and give yourself credit when you achieve them.
- Allow yourself some positivity – write down 3 things each day that you are thankful for.
- Challenge your thoughts – unhelpful thoughts can lead to unhelpful actions. Try to recognise, challenge, and replace unhelpful thoughts with positive ones.
- Be more active – exercise can help to burn off nervous energy and improve your mood through the release of endorphins.
- Talk to someone – whether it’s a trusted friend, family member, colleague or a helpline, talking things over can really help.
- Plan ahead – planning out upcoming stressful events can help make tackling them less daunting.
If you would prefer a more structured approach to getting started with managing stress, try this 7 day plan from Stress.org.uk
How we can help
If you’re feeling the effects of stress, we can help. We offer a range of services to help improve your mental and physical health, including chiropractic, sports massage, aromatherapy massage and counselling. Get in touch for more information.