In today’s fast paced world stress can be created by a host of environmental and/or personal factors such as:
- Work related pressures
- Personal & family issues
- Financial challenges
- Divorce, separation or relationship issues
- Injury or illness
- Death of a loved one or any significant life changes eg. changing jobs, moving house etc
When you have been subjected to one or more of these issues, whether for an extended period of time or not, we often find the stress caused by these issues can start to adversely affect our physical & emotional health. If left untreated, chronic stress can cause symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, sleep disturbances, irritability and even poor memory and reduced concentration. Worse still, stress can also be a contributing factor in illness such as peptic ulcers, depression, weight gain and obesity, headaches/migraines, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), dermatitis and asthma. If left untreated, this rather insidious condition can have significant and long lasting effects on health and well-being.
When is stress helpful?
The "stress response" was our ancestors' way of telling us if there were any dangers around. It's now known as fight or flight response, where they would either brace themselves for battle or take off running like crazy!
Stress is an important survival tool, but it can also be harmful if not managed appropriately. For example stress has been shown to improve performance in short bursts and increase awareness when needed for specific tasks like running from a predator.
When is stress harmful?
The stress response is something we all have to deal with, but when it's constantly activated in our body over time there are negative impacts on both mental and physical health. Long term stress can lead to heart disease, diabetes, anxiety and depression amongst other issues.
Strategies for coping with stress
If you think stress could be affecting your health, there are some excellent strategies and coping skills you can use to help you manage your stress levels that help improve your health and vitality. These include:
Improving Diet & Lifestyle: A healthy diet will give you all the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs to cope with high levels of stress. Combined with a healthy lifestyle (enough sleep, relaxation time, avoiding smoking, drugs and stimulants, and avoiding excessive alcohol intake), it is possible to handle much higher levels of stress.
Exercise: Regular exercise is a fantastic way to improve your mood and help you cope with stress better. Just 30 minutes per day of exercise increases the production of endorphins – our feel good brain chemicals that make you feel more positive. It can also improve your work life balance by taking some time for you.
Relaxation Techniques: The use of stress management techniques can also help reduce excessive stress. Yoga, tai chi, meditation, massage to reduce muscle tension, progressive muscle relaxation to help with sleep, or even a soothing, relaxing hobby may help you manage your stress more effectively.
Talk to Someone: It has been repeatedly demonstrated that talking about your difficulties with someone can help. Find someone you can trust when you fee overwhelmed, a family member, friend or mental health professional (like a psychologist or counsellor). Talking to someone about your everyday stress may help you find a solution to your problem and can often help you feel like you can cope.
Natural Medicines: If you think that stress could be adversely affecting your health, using natural supplements to support your stress-coping mechanisms and nervous system may help to restore your well-being and get you back to feeling energetic, healthy and happy. We can also test your stress hormones and assess your cortisol levels as these can impact your digestive health and block weight loss as well.
Stress can impact digestive health and weight loss. Click through for more details on our Fuel and Nourish with Metabolic Balance Program where personalised nutrition takes ones of our biggest stresses away by balancing blood sugar for weight loss success.
We have a special module on stress management in the Gut Fix Program to help manage stress when it relates to digestive symptoms. Taking care of mental health and learning to better deal with a stressful event using deep breathing and other proven techniques can reduce stress and its impact on your physical symptoms.