Body Talk, April 19

Recognising Stress

Stress is not always a bad thing. In small doses it can help us achieve under pressure and motivate us to be the best we can be. It’s when we are constantly in a state of stress or emergency mode, that our body and mind can really pay the price.  If you frequently feel overwhelmed, anxious, moody, frustrated or frazzled it might be time to look for ways to help bring your nervous system back into balance. Once you recognize the signs and symptoms of stress you can begin to take steps to reduce the harmful effects stress can have on our over-all health. 

The stress response is the human body’s way of protecting us. When working at an optimum level it helps us stay energetic, alert and focused. In an emergency stress can save our lives for example giving us super human strength to defend ourselves or save another’s life. This is called the fight or flight response. When we feel threatened, our nervous system responds and releases stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol which prepare our body for an emergency situation. Our muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, our heart beat increases, our respiratory rate elevates and our senses become sharper. Our body is in survival mode and is prepared to either fight or flight from the danger at hand.  

Living in 2019, life is busy. We are so connected to so many devices we have voice messages, text messages, messenger messages, emails, and then full-time work, being parents, taking care of family members etc. All of this can lead to our bodies consistently being in flight or fight mode. 

Some of the things we can do to help relieve stress and bring our nervous system back into balance are to get our body moving, up our activity level with regular exercise allowing us to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that can feed stress. Teach your body to relax through massage, yoga and meditation to decrease stress and boost feelings of health, joy and relaxation. Eat a healthy diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, high quality protein and healthy fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids. Get a good night’s sleep and connect with friends and family. 

All of these things will boost our ability to handle stress and potentially save our body from disease caused by stress.

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