It’s the ongoing refrain that has an impact on all of our health and wellbeing – signs of stress. While we can’t completely avoid it, and indeed a little of it is no bad thing, unmanaged stress is a perennial problem in our hectic world. Fortunately, there are things that can help us handle daily stresses and help keep its common side effects in check, as guest writer, Jenny Hart, explains…
Slightly different to a regular headache, tension headaches are caused by seemingly minor irritants that cause stress in your body. When you’re dealing with stressful situations throughout the day, your muscles tense, causing a very distinct type of headache.
The good news is that easily accessible relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation can make a significant difference to some stress symptoms, and of course if you really want a treat you can learn ways to do both on wellness spa breaks.
Do you seem to catch every little cold that flies through the office? Believe it or not, stress could be making you more susceptible to them. The stress hormones our bodies release to deal with a crisis also suppress the body’s immune system, making you more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria.
Taking things like vitamin C supplements and eating a balanced diet can really help support your immune system during particularly stressful times. Of course, you should always consult your doctor before taking supplements.
When external factors like work and family leave you feeling out of control, your body looks for ways to respond to crises with hormones like cortisol. While this stress response is meant to protect us, it can also cause our thoughts to race, making quality sleep very difficult.
When you’re unable to rest and recharge with the proper deep sleep cycles, it’s not unusual to feel irritable, frustrated and less productive throughout the day. While many of us have become accustomed to feeling that that, it doesn’t have to be that way.
You will have heard it a thousand times, but creating little routines around bed time such as turning your phone and other digital devices off by 9pm, having an aromatherapy bath or maybe even meditating, can really make a difference to stress symptoms and help you face the day and the challenges it brings.
It’s widely known that people tend to carry stress in their neck and shoulders. Even thinking about it makes you want to lower your shoulders and stretch your neck for relief. This reaction causes unnecessary strain on those areas, which can lead to more permanent aches and pains.
So, pay attention to your posture by staying as active as you can. Maybe walk the last stretch of your commute to work, head out for a 20 minute stroll at lunchtime, and incorporate holistic practices like yoga or a regular massage into your routine to help relieve the physical tension.
We’ve all heard the term ‘nervous stomach’. Or come across the ideas of getting ‘butterflies’ when we’re anxious. There’s a lot of information now available about the link between the gut and the brain, and as a result, both can be impacted by one another.
We know that what we eat can impact how we feel, but also, how we feel can have a significant impact on our guts. The result of serious stress can literally be an upset stomach. Supporting your gut with good nutrition, but also staying aware of your body and any symptoms and consulting a doctor if you are concerned, are all important, and good incentives to find ways to help manage stress levels.
We need to be a bit careful talking about this because the long term effects of stress can vary enormously from one person to the next, and are also not necessarily trackable.
However, there is an increasingly strong school of thought that the long term impact of unmanaged stress, both serious and low level but chronic, can lead to long term health problems. While we can’t predict the future, and sometimes things happen no matter what we do to look after our health, being aware of our bodies and doing our best to support them a little and often can give us a strong foundation for resilience and good long term health.
There is a wealth of information out there from spa practitioners offering spa treatments or even nutritional and exercise advice. To your GP who will be able to advise if you’re unsure about any stress symptoms or how to manage them. While some stress is an inevitability of life, relief for a happy, healthy year ahead is fundamental to self-care – and something you and your body absolutely deserve.
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