With National Stress Awareness Day taking place on the 7th November, there’s never been a better time to raise public awareness about the causes and cures as it can affect so many people.
So what are the dangers of stress and how do we put in place the right coping mechanisms?
Dr. Christine Bundy, Psychologist for the Simple Advisory Board and Dr. Sebastian Winckler from www.thehealthcounter.com offer advice on how to manage stress.
Dr. Christine Bundy says: Stress can affect us in many more ways than you think. As well as taking its toll on our emotional and physical state, it can also affect our skin making it extra sensitive and reactive causing redness, flare-ups and even premature ageing. Behaviourally, when we are stressed, we also tend to frown and clench our jaw and purse our lips which can in turn accelerate the development of wrinkles. To tackle your stress demons, I’d suggest trying the following advice:
- Rest up and try and get between 6-8 hours of good quality sleep a night. Our bodies need sleep to recharge the batteries and aid the healing process
- Don’t dwell in the doldrums. Focusing on the positive things in your life and screening out the negatives do work. Look back at happy photos, go see a feel good film with a friend or buy yourself a cheery bunch of blooms
- Recognise what’s making you stressed and keep a diary so that you can monitor the pattern and learn to control it so that it doesn’t just creep up on you. When you know what’s making you stressed, you can anticipate it and prepare ahead so that it doesn’t have to be such an unpleasant experience
- When events happen e.g. an important meeting, and you feel stressed, focus on the positive in these events, anything at all that distracts you from the negative and stay focused on the solution and not the problem
- Routine is key. Build in some time to appreciate yourself with me time moments such as a relaxing bath, massage or manicure
- Don’t neglect your skin as bad skin will stress you out even more so stay hydrated and adopt an easy routine that you can make time for every day
Dr. Sebastian Winckler is one of the online GPs at www.thehealthcounter.com. He goes onto say: These days, stress is something that we all live and breathe. It can turn people into monsters making them tetchy, snappy and bed tempered if you aren’t careful. Physically it can cause high blood pressure, anxiety, heart attacks and depression and may also contribute to irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia and migraines.
There is not one part of the human body that remains untouched by the negative side of stress, however, it is manageable and if channelled the right way, can actually work to help us rise to an occasion so that we perform better. To cope with any stressful situation, its best to approach it in bite size chunks so that it doesn’t control and overwhelm you. Try:
- Regular exercise as well as breathing and relaxation techniques. Go for a brisk walk around the park to clear the cobwebs as it will help your body produce endorphins which is your body’s natural anti-depressant
- Watch what you eat and drink. Excessive drinking will blot out the stress for short periods of time, however, in the long run it will only aggravate your stress. Turning to carbs isn’t the answer either I’m afraid as sugar in excess will make matters worse. Eat happy foods such as sunflower seeds, avocados, spinach and salmon
- Don’t skip meals as this can cause your blood sugar to drop worsening the effect of the blood glucose fluctuations you experience when stressed
- Perhaps try a traditional herbal medicine such as St John’s Wort or Bach Rescue Remedy as both can help alleviate the pressures of stress and anxiety. Its worth checking with your doctor first however, as products such as St Johns Wort can interact with other medications
- Ask for help and don’t be frightened about speaking to people
Femalefirst Taryn Davies