I reckon if we polled the country 99.99% would say that they are stressed. It’s become like a permanent state for many people. To be honest I feel like for many people it has become a bit of a badge of honour like if you aren’t stressed with too much to do surely that means you are lazy and not doing enough?
I have definitely been guilty of this in the past, and the thing is Stress is actually really bad for our health so why on earth would we celebrate that? It would be like being really pleased with yourself for drinking a lot of alcohol……..
So how does stress affect our bodies.
When we are stressed our bodies produce the hormone adrenaline. This switches on our fight or flight system as back in caveman times it was needed to help us run away from predators. Now we aren’t running away from something that might eat us, that predator may be your boss, running late etc. Adrenaline is great in emergency situations it’s what responsible for those people that are able to lift cars off people or other crazy feats of humanity, it basically keeps us hyper alert to help us survive. In the short term adrenaline raises our heart rate and blood pressure and speeds up the metabolism of glucose in the blood. This then returns to normal when the stressful situation ends.
However as we are now more and more constantly stressed our bodies are producing adrenaline all the time. We struggle to return to homeostasis. This means we are at risk of prolonged high heart rate (heart palpitations) and high blood pressure, dizziness, fainting and potentially diabetes due to the Glucose metabolism. An over production of adrenaline can also be a contributor to anxiety.
Now just because you aren’t at the heart palpitations and fainting position doesn’t mean you don’t need to take your stress levels seriously.
If we continually hold stress and tension in our bodies it can cause headaches, muscular pain and stiffness. The constant tension causes us to feel constantly tired and if we then can’t relax we struggle to sleep despite the tiredness-have you ever been so tired you can’t sleep-trust me it’s a thing.
So what can we do?
Well start prioritising your well being. Stop feeling guilty for turning things down to create more time to switch off.
Make an effort to get plenty of sleep-the mantra of I’ll sleep when I’m dead will actually only lead you to being dead quicker than if you’d got that sleep in.
Find things that switch your brain off, whether that’s meditation, reading a book or watching rubbish tv-Love Island anyone…….
Be kind to your body, for many people the gym, running etc is a stress reliever however they can in the short term increase adrenaline so if you’re already at the burnt out stage of things try walking, gentle yoga and massage to help you relax instead.
And finally let’s stop making how much stress we are under and how tired we are some sort of badge of honour. Instead make time to address the imbalance and then when someone asks how you are answer “I’m great” and avoid getting into the who’s busier competition.
Right I’m off for some herbal tea and to read my book, Eleanor Oliphant is completely Fine by Gail Honeyman if you’re interested.