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  • Lucy Adie

Mid-Week MOT: STRESS!!!!!

Stress..........Arguably the most overused buzzword of the 21st Century.

Are we more stressed than 20 years ago or are we just more self-aware these days?

What is stress?

Stress can be described as a feeling of being under physical, mental or emotional pressure whether good or bad. It is a completely subjective term because one persons stress can be another persons motivation. It is the amount and duration of stress that affects our health and well being.

Our bodies response to stress is natural and necessary and ensures our survival in the face of danger. It keeps us alert and enables us to escape threatening situations. It is a system that is designed to be of short term use. Long term/chronic stress damages the body and exhausts its responsive ability.

Short term stress produces the fight or flight response. This is where your body perceives danger and prepares you to either hang around and fight or get the hell outta there!

The adrenal glands sitting on top of your kidneys are signalled by the brain to produce two hormones, adrenaline and cortisol.

Adrenaline - constricts blood vessels to raise blood pressure, increases heart and breathing rates, dilates your pupils so you can see better in low light, and raises your alertness.

Cortisol - a steroid hormone that stimulates glucose production in the liver so that it is circulating in the blood and available for use as fuel. It stops insulin from spiriting it away into cells. Cortisol also increases blood pressure via salt/water balance, diverts blood away from the gastrointestinal system and shuts down the immune and reproductive systems. The natural peak of cortisol in the blood is at 0800 and helps to get you up and out in the morning. It is at its lowest level by about 0400, enabling sleep.

Cortisol and adrenaline are designed to be short acting hormones, if they are constantly being produced by the body as a response to long term stress then our health is affected.

So, given the list of effects of the two main stress hormones, we can work out what the likely health implications are:

  • Problems with digestion and hyperacidity.

  • Thyroid dysfunction

  • Infertility and reduced libido

  • Decrease in testosterone levels

  • Increase hunger and associated weight gain

  • Diabetes from insulin resistance

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

Signs of stress include anxiety, depression, irritability, feeling of loneliness, loss of spark and interest in life, headaches, chest pain, heartburn, lack of concentration.

According to the UK's leading mental health charity MIND, there are steps you can take to manage your stress and reduce these symptoms:

  • Identify your stress triggers

  • Organise your time

  • Accept the things you cannot change

  • Talk to friends or colleagues

  • Take regular exercise

  • Eat a balanced diet

  • Meditate

  • Use manual or complimentary therapies such as massage, acupuncture or yoga

As always, you should speak to your doctor if you are suffering with any of the symptoms discussed in this article.

For osteopathic treatment in High Wycombe and beyond, call Lucy at OsteoFusion for an appointment 07833 321604 or visit www.osteofusion.co.uk.

Thanks for reading, feel free to comment below.

Reference: www.mind.org.uk

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