Whilst a certain amount of stress is required to get us out of bed every morning, the fast-paced rhythm of modern living is so highly stressful that it can kill. Conditions, such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin ailments, asthma, arthritis, depression and anxiety are notoriously exacerbated, or even caused by the unsustainable levels of stress we subject ourselves to day in and day out. Apart from being bad for health and relationships, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress costs the American healthcare industry more than $300 billion annually. What is the price you pay for the stress in your life?
Stress can affect your immune system and cause are- ups such as cold sores. Stock up on immune boosting vitamins A and C, these will help prevent the sores appearing.
The suggested recommended daily allowance for vitamin A is 700 micrograms and for vitamin C it is 75 milligrams.
TRY Seasonal fruit and vegetables such as carrots, pumpkins and sweet potatoes for an excellent source of beta-carotene (which produces vitamin A) and citrus fruits for a go-to source of vitamin C.
When on the edge, it becomes hard to focus properly and remember information. In severe cases, high levels of cortisol over a prolonged period may kill off brain cells and lead to memory loss when you are older. To keep brain healthy munch on plenty of omega-3 rich fish such as mackerel, fresh tuna etc.
Stress can make you want to pull your hair out, but it can also cause your locks to stop growing and fall out. On average, you shed around 40 to 60 strands of hair a day, but when you feel anxious this can increase because your body produces more adrenalin. This can result in high testosterone levels and cause the hair to thin.
The body’s response to dangerous or stressful situations causes the adrenal glands to pump out more cortisol and adrenalin. This in turn increases heart rate and raises blood pressure which puts you at risk of a heart attack.
TRY sitting quietly for 10 minutes a day and focusing on your breathing. Have a look at this book: Keep Calm and Breathe: 10 Deep Breathing Techniques to Bring Awareness, Relieve Stress, Reduce Anxiety, and Change Your Life Forever! by Little Pearl and Julie Schoen.
Many respond to worry by clenching their jaw so the muscles become rigid. Some people suffer from temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD) which affects the joints where the lower jaw bone meets the skull. Fatigue and anxiety can cause these muscles to tense, leading to headaches and a clicking in
TRY ‘Yawn-Sigh’ exercises to relax your throat, jaw, face and body. Take a deep yawn as you open your mouth as widely as possible. Stretch your jaw muscles and tighten your shoulders and arms as you inhale. Slowly exhale and relax all of your muscles completely. Perform this exercise several times. Also you can read Timeless Face: Free Your Face from the Signs of Stress and Time in 30 Days by Ellae Elinwood.
Tension can lead to a stiff, knotted back, which will worsen if you sit in the same position for a long time. If stressed out at work or while driving, tune into soothing music. Studies have proven that music slows the pulse and heart rate, as well lowering blood pressure and levels of stress hormones.
TRY Incorporating Tai Chi and meditation into your daily routine, this will help strengthen your spine and relax your body and mind. You can buy the Sunrise Tai Chi DVD from Amazon, an idea for the festive season!
Being anxious can seriously reduce natural libido, as signals between the brain, ovaries and sexual organs are what stimulate your sex drive. Worrying can also cause menstrual periods to be irregular and more painful or could stop them altogether.
TRY Head-massage techniques. Place your thumbs behind your ears and spread your fingers over your head, then move your scalp back and forth for five minutes a day whilst breathing deeply from the diaphragm.
Tension causes breathing to become shallow and faster, causing palpitations which could lead to a panic attack. Take a break. Sit down, close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths, inhaling through nose and then exhaling through the mouth. Get into a steady rhythm, as it will distract you from what was making you anxious in the first place.
TRY a ‘Guided Meditation for Stress Relief’ video on YouTube for a quick relaxing fix.
Stomach and Bowels
The gut wall is jam-packed with nerves which explains why you get ‘butterflies’ when you are a bit jittery or excited. Therefore, when you are fretting, you can suffer from abdominal cramps as tension affects the digestion and slows the rate at which food moves through the body. At times you could experience sickness or diarrhoea.
TRY Put the kettle on. Herbal teas have a calming effect on the system and soothe an upset tummy. Hibiscus Tea may even bring down blood pressure and it tastes delicious too.
Tension affects the immune cells in your skin, preventing it from repairing itself. Legs are the most common area for deadly melanoma (skin cancer) as they are more exposed to hot weather and likelier to get burnt. Always wear sunscreen, especially in this part of the world.
TRY La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios SPF 30 Smooth Lotion, always make sure your sunblock provides UVA and UVB protection and never go lower than SPF 30.
The stress hormone prolactin triggers cells that cause swelling in your joints. A study showed people who were anxious all the time had increased levels of prolactin than those who weren’t.
TRY Yoga. It’s an unsurpassed way to relax and stay supple as it strengthens the muscles, supports the joints and lubricates the spine. YogaGlo is an excellent website that offers the best range of yoga practice for every level and for every mood.
Blood is diverted to the heart and muscles when stressed, therefore leaving the skin looking pasty. What is worse is that hormonal fight and flight responses cause the complexion to become unbalanced. It can get oilier and cracks appear in the protective layer, trapping bacteria which cause pimples.
TRY Keep skin clear by cleansing regularly. Eucerin’s DermatoCLEAN Clarifying Toner clears and refreshes the skin, letting it breathe better. Available at all Boots Chemists outlets.