Here is a revelation. Stress is a function of how we respond to events rather than events themselves. In turn it is within our power to change how we respond.
When stressed the body releases “stress hormones” , adrenalin and cortisol. This response goes back to ancient times and is known as the “fight or flight” response to prepare you for an immediate physical threat. The heart beats faster, blood pressure rises, you breathe more rapidly and blood is diverted to the muscles.
Today the sorts of stressors we face are different. Financial, family or work related stress can be ongoing for extended periods of time. The body does not know the cause of the stress and reacts the same way it always has with release of stress hormones.
Over time this can adversely affect both mental and physical health (depression and heart disease to name but two). Epidemiological studies have shown that stress over a ten-year period correlated with a five-fold increase in cancer rates.
So what can we do to de-stress?
Technology, which is sometimes blamed for stress can also be help if used correctly. You can download a guided relaxation or meditation onto your MP3 player or plug headphones into your computer and do a meditation. You can find things to laugh at on the internet. Laughing lowers blood pressure, reduces production of stress hormones and releases the body’s own “happy hormones” the endorphins
You can connect with friends through technology. You can also use the one button that people forget about-the off button. Play with your children or grandchildren. Children are better at laughter than adults and yes it is “contagious”.
Work life balance is a buzz term but is actually important. You need your sleep, exercise and relaxation time. Green tea, dark chocolate and a bit of fresh air and sunshine help can help reduce stress too. Furthermore those who do strike the right balance are more productive in their work time.
Last but not least, when feeling stressed, take three slow deep breaths. You will immediately feel more relaxed. Then ask yourself what can I do to deal with whatever is making you feel stressed? Once dealt with, stress starts to melt away.
So tell us, what do you do to de-stress?