Listening to your body: stress

Listening to your body: stress

At work or at home, it’s important to listen to your body and take time out.

Although all of us have times when we feel a bit tired or rundown, it’s easy to trudge on without giving our bodies a break.

Keeping a check on stress
Our bodies normally operate with varying levels of stress day to day. The natural ability to cope with stress depends on a range of the body’s chemicals that help us deal with pressure points. Adrenalin, for example, enables us to act to counter the pressure we face.

However, sometimes we are put in situations where we can’t utilise these natural chemicals in a balanced and efficient way – pressure points which are beyond our ability to resolve immediately, for example. These might be worries about work or money that can’t so easily be remedied, for example.

Physical signs of stress
If the natural ‘stress’ chemicals like adrenalin, noradrenalin and cortisol are not properly used when released, they can instead cause problems like increased heart rate. Cortisol can cause impaired function of the immune system so you become more prone to illness.
Other common signs of stress can be: inability to sleep well, getting more angry or tearful than usual at small flashpoints during the day, losing interest in sex, or suffering regular headaches.

Stress doesn’t have to result in extreme longterm physical problems but it is worth taking some time out to find out how your body best recovers from stress.

De-stress action plan
1. Assessing your situation
Get into the habit of being able to assess exactly what is the source of your stress. Sift through the whole situation and put aside the knock-on problems to get to the heart of what is really wrong.

2. Making a plan of action
If the source of stress is something you can act on, try to remedy the situation as soon as you can. Sometimes it isn’t so simple – relationship stress (at home or work) can be caused by a complex set of issues. However, sharing your feelings really will help if you can find the right person to talk the issues through with. It will offer you a path to understanding your situation, while objective feedback might give you the chance to at least address part of the root of the problem.

3.Getaway routes
Some moments of stress are not helped if your way of dealing with stress is to blow a fuse. Simple ‘quick escapes’ like taking a walk around the block, a long soothing bath or just digging out a CD and having a blast of your favourite songs can really help. We’re all different, so it’s important to learn from our experiences and find a few reliable shortcuts to feeling good that really work for you.

4.Healthy rescue
Having a drink or a box of chocolates are understandable ways in which we seek to treat ourselves when we feel low. However physically, too much of these kinds of treats can bring about their own problems. Instead, try taking up a new activity – whether it’s swimming or yoga or Pilates, or just a new hobby that you can channel your energies into. Physical activities can have genuine feelgood value mentally and physically, but hobbies – so long as they do not require too much emotional investment – can also help by arming you with new skills, which is a great morale booster.

5.Focus on the positive
Not all of us are good at serious meditation. But chilling out and focusing on something good is a popular method of de-stressing, championed in many countries from America to China. Try just taking five or ten minutes to yourself and either try silent or vocal chanting, or if that’s not really your cup of tea, try concentrating on a pleasing visual image, whether this is an imagined place like a warm beach, or a scene from a fondly remembered holiday. Try to think around the experience to really get the most out of your quiet time – if you are visualising, think about the restful sounds and scents that with your scene, too. If you are chanting try to even out your voice as much as possible by adding a ‘sing song’ tone.

For more fun tips on staying fit click here.


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