- Slept through the alarm clock,
- got stuck in traffic,
- running so late that everyone thought you weren’t coming in,
- burnt your mouth on the coffee you so desperately needed,
- realize you had left an important document or report at home on the table where you had put it so you wouldn’t forget it, and on top of all of this,
- everyone else seems to be in a foul mood.
Can you recognise what kind of state are you in?
State refers to your physiological and psychological responses to a situation.
Psychologically if you were having a day like this, you would probably be a little flustered and distracted, perhaps a little anxious.
How you manage your anxiety is what matters. Your awareness and recognition whether you are feeling anxiety, frustration or relaxation, all contribute to your wellbeing.
- Are you experiencing events in a hurried, forced or leisurely manner?
- Do you have particular triggers that cause us to feel in a certain way?
- What are you picking up from non-verbal communication such as body language or voice tone?
….yet with a hint of anticipatory anxiety.
You may feel relaxed and at ease when the sun is shining because you associate this with holidays and good times, but another person may have a completely different perspective.
Take exams and tests.
You may have done really well as a child all through school, but as an adult when you studied for a test or exam for something that you really were not enjoying, your perception of your ability changed and you developed an anxiety around academic performance.
What is going on in your body while all this happens?
Changes in physiological state include changes in respiration rate, muscular tension, blood pressure, facial colour and temperature changes. Your “flight or fight” response is starting to kick in. Perhaps even a “freeze” response if the event is dire.
Sustained stress, including psychological stressors, will create changes in your physiology and if left unattended, will result in poor health.
Health issues that come about because of ignoring your stress responses are:
- Lowered immunity.
As stress increases, so too does the level of Cortisol inside the body. It’s a necessary hormone that the body produces to help us with stress, but too much stress equals too much Cortisol. An excess of Cortisol will raise your cholesterol and blood pressure, leading to Heart Disease. Stress hormones have the effect of thickening your blood, great if you are a warrior and get stuck by a spear or sword – it will slow down your blood loss, but not so good if you are sitting at a desk all day and your arteries begin to clog.
Cortisol also encourages fat storage, so if you are stressed about losing the excess kilos you have put on from stress related eating or the stress of dieting, you will continue to pile on the kilos…..
you can see that it’s a vicious circle…..
When you are stressed, you burn fewer calories and you are more likely to consume more food, particularly carbohydrates for quick energy. Unfortunately, this stresses the body further, as too much food is generally consumed, and the excess calories are converted to fat, which accumulates in the abdominal area. More people are turning to surgical solutions, such as the Gastric Band to create a smaller stomach in their quest to reduce weight. Imagine how easy it could be if you could use the power of your mind to do the same thing…….
Modern stress differs significantly in that the battles that we fight are not likely to be fighting the Sabre Tooth Tiger or a Woolly Mammoth, but a traffic jam on the freeway or a mountain of paperwork.
- Insulin resistance leading to higher blood sugar levels and Diabetes,
- Reduced levels of oestrogen or testosterone which decreases the libido,
- Suppression of immune cells leading to more frequent colds, flu or infections.
Chronic stress results in Cortisol and Insulin levels rising and signalling the fat cells to store as much as possible and hold onto the fat in case of “famine”.
The stressful event doesn’t even have to be real….. just the imagining of what “might happen”, the stress response will be the same.
So if you are overweight and cannot shift those kilos, you now know why.
Quite literally, you can put on weight even thinking about it!
Nature also gives us another hurdle to jump.
As we age, our metabolisms slow and a 50-year-old requires fewer calories than a 15-year-old. We also tend to move less as we age, thus not burning up the calories consumed.
Moderate exercise will relieve us not only of the burden of the excess kilos but also reduces stress, increases muscle tone and bone density. The flip side of the exercise coin is that excessive exercise can create the very stress that it is supposed to relieve, with élite athleteswho over train experiencing increased Cortisol levels, depression and weight gain when they stop training.
Another factor that leads to raised Cortisol levels is lack of sleep.
We are often “wired” in to our TV or computer in the evenings and long into the night. Excitement is provided by the latest “who did it” or action show and it is easy to lose track of time when engrossed in the plot. Sleep deprivation – meaning less than 6 hours a night – will predispose you to insulin resistance or diabetes. The advent of the industrial age saw a good night’s sleep cut from around 9 -10 hours a night to the 7 or less hours we enjoy now.
Raised Cortisol levels affect the quality of our sleep in so many ways. An inability to relax in the early evening will cause the mind to become active later, resulting in insomnia that in turn results in feeling less than bright during the day. The fatigue that accompanies this cycle of events then leads to anxiety, forgetfulness, confusion and a tendency to more frequent infections. The increase in anxiety is caused by the stress hormones interrupting the function of neurotransmitters in the brain, causing physical changes in the brain.
The longer you go without doing something about stress and your response to it, the more chronic diseases such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), Asthma, allergies, Crohn’s Disease and other inflammatory diseases begin to manifest. Therefore, if you have frequent gut or lung ailments it can be an indication that you are not managing your stress well.
Exercise will enable the body to use the stress hormones in the way nature intended and managing the mind through meditation will reduce them further.
Naturally, these are simplistic solutions and there is more to managing your stress than these three suggestions, and if you have a medical condition you should continue your treatment and see your medical practitioner.
Call or email to make an appointment for a session on how to reduce your stress.
The unique therapy based coaching sessions will enable you to gain clarity in just a few sessions with the support of natural therapies such as Hypnotherapy, Homeopathy and Reiki should you require them.