Stress is a word easily bandied around these days. Some of us associate with it more than others. But what is becoming clear is that we appear to be in the throes of an epidemic of stress-induced conditions. The statistics are showing that up to 70-90% of all doctor's visits are for stress-related conditions (1), whilst the number of annual total working days lost due to stress, anxiety or depression is 11.3 million (2). So what is going on here? Why have we reached this junction?
Part of it is our 24-hour lifestyle. Modern technology now means that we are bombarded by technology throughout the day. Whether it be emails, social media, TV, internet.....or shops, restaurants and bars that seem to operate 24/7. Our sleep is certainly suffering.....we are getting approximately 20% less per night than we did 40 years ago (3) and we mask our sleepiness with stimulation from the likes of caffeine to TV to bright lights.
Health, though, is ultimately about adaptation to our environment. So, why are we failing to adapt? Mainly because of a combination of an excessive load (too much activity) and too little resources (recovery). Load can include: imbalanced work-life activity, information over-load, electronic device stimulation, artificial light exposure, pollution, oxidative stress, sugar and perception. Whereas resources can include: real food (vitamins, minerals, etc), restorative sleep, social interactions, contact with nature, laughter, mindfulness, touch therapies and music.
Let's focus on PERCEPTION as it's your own individual perception of stress that counts - not how big it is but how big you THINK it is. There are now clear evidential links between your memory, emotion and your perception of stress that creates a nervous system response in your body. Perceived stress, such as worry, can be generated simply by your thoughts (4) and, if you don't resolve it, it will continue to sit there eating away at you causing a physiological reaction (5). Continued over-activation of your stress response without compensatory relaxation and recovery can turn the stress response survival mechanism into a mechanism that can potentially cause harm.
So what you can you do to help you adapt to life's demands? Try some of the tips below, to see if they are helpful for you:
HOW TO ADAPT TO LIFE'S STRESSES - TOP TIPS:
Generate greater self-awareness - learn to monitor your thoughts.
Address any stressors that you can address and let go of those that you cannot.
Learn deep breathing techniques and use at times of stress - it's the quickest way to relieve stress.
Make sure you make room for adequate down-time so that you allow your body to recover.
Improve your sleep patterns so that you get good quality sleep every night.
Ditch your processed foods and switch to natural nutrient-dense whole foods.
Make sure you eat regular meals and remove challenging foods such as sugar, sweets and alcohol.
Minimise toxicity by using only natural house cleaning products and remove all moulds.
Indulge in regular self-care, such as massages. luxurious baths or anything else that you love to do.
Don't over-exert yourself if exhausted - use gentle exercises instead, such as walking or yoga.
Good luck with managing your stress. Wishing you all the best.
If you want to learn how I can help to improve your stress, click here for a FREE 30 minutes telephone consultation.
(1) Health & Safety Executive. Work related stress, anxiety and depression statistics in Great Britain 2014/2015. Http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress.
(2) Actor S (2011). Make stress work for you. Harvard Business Review. https:hbr.org/2011/02/make-stress-work-for you.
(3) National Sleep Foundation Annual 2011 Poll, Technology and Sleep. https://sleepfoundation.org
(4) Sapolsky R M (1998). Why zebras don't get ulcers. W H Freeman & Co, USA.
(5) Lewis C A (2015). Enderoimmunology, Ed 3.03, Psy Press, Florida, USA.
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