Last year I was made redundant from a job I loved. Before this, I was like so many others thinking that stress did not exist. If it did exist it was something that didn’t affect me.
Then the headaches started. For one month I suffered from cluster migraines, brought on by the stress of not having a job.
The constant worry about how I was going to pay the bills and support my family, made me physically ill.
What is Stress?
Stress until recently has not been considered an illness. As a result of cases becoming more frequent, research into the causes and effects have begun.
Stress originates from the basic psychological response, fight or flight. In the dark ages when faced with a large animal the body had two ways of coping; fight the animal or run away.
In the modern-day, you are sitting in your car in the traffic and someone is blasting their horn. You have two responses fight back or run away. Fighting back is illegal while running away would mean you leave your car behind. In my opinion never a good move, it gets expensive leaving your car every time you have a problem. The only response we have left is to let the feelings go inward and manifest as stress.
Effects of Stress
Everyone can be affected by stress. I appreciate this now, I didn’t a year ago.
The degree that it affects your life depends on your lifestyle. Some forms of stress may even be considered beneficial. Beneficial stress allows us the energy and interest to explore our environment.
Our bodies react to stressful situations by preparing us for action. To do this it increases our heartbeat and blood pressure.
Chronic stress will involve repeated episodes of increased heart rate. This can increase plaque formation within the cardiovascular system and cause problems.
In severe cases, stress can cause an enlargement of the adrenal cortex and shrinkage of the thymus, spleen and lymphatics.
Stress can also affect the immune system. This can make you more susceptible to disease. It reduces the effectiveness of the immune system at killing foreign bodies.
There are several methods to reduce stress:
- Relaxation training and aerobic exercise. These help increase the heart rate and oxygen consumption, naturally. Individuals who exercise, have a lower heart rate when faced with a stressful situation.
- Cognitive techniques teach people a method of coping with these stressful situations.
- Reflexology can help cope with stress by encouraging the body to relax. Reflexology aids the circulation of blood. It also provides a way of inducing deep relaxation. This gives the human body a chance to seek its own homeostasis. When a body is relaxed it has a greater chance of healing itself.
- I am a big fan of Mindfulness, the ability to change your mindset to ease stress.
- Look after yourself, there is only one of you. Eat healthy, walk, read a good book.
Whatever your stress level and method of treating it. Remember to recognise that stress exists and take care of yourself.
How do you manage your stress?