Thank you for taking the time to read my very first blog. This is a subject that is very close to my heart having battled and still battling depression. Stress is in our lives everyday and not all of us can handle it successfully. I certainly don't always handle things well, but over time I'm learning new ways to handle stress better. Learning to channel it in positive ways. If you too are struggling with stress, I hope my blog will give you a little help or insight into what stress is and how we can manage it.
What is Stress?
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your “things to do” list seems endless, or that deadlines fast approaching at university; and find yourself thinking “ekk!” I feel stressed. But what is stress?Stress isn't necessarily a bad thing, it keeps us fighting and focused, allowing us to react quickly to situations through the release of hormones; such as Adrenaline and Cortisol. we get a rush of energy, preparing us. Our heart pounds faster, we have an uptake in fast breathing, enabling us to focus our attention so we can quickly react.The “challenge” is when our bodies go into a state of distress, in inappropriate situations. Blood begins to flow only to our most vital muscles needed to fight or flight, so brain function begins to to minimise. this can sometimes cause us to not “think straight”. A state that can become detrimental to our day to day life and health. Distress can lead to physical problems including, headaches, upset stomachs, elevated blood pressure, chest pains and insomnia.
What can trigger stress?
Trying to identify our triggers of stress with differ for each person. The trials and tribulations that cause stress in our lives are personal to our individual problems; yet they often fall into larger categories.
- Moving home
- Emotional Trauma; depression, low self esteem, anxiety
Reactions to stress.
We have many reactions to stress. whether it be physically, emotionally, mentally or by our behaviour. Stress can affect all aspects of our life, our behaviour, emotions, the ability to think clearly and our physical health. No part of our body is immune, because we all handle our stresses differently.
- Frequent colds or infections
- Nervousness and shaking
- Excess sweating
- Dry mouth
- Clenched jaw or grinding teeth
- Upset stomach
- Aches and pains
- Chest pains
- Low libido
- Easily agitated and frustrated
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Difficulty in relaxing
- Low self esteem
- Constant sate of worry
- Racing thoughts
- Forgetfulness or disorganisation
- Inability to focus
- Poor judgement
- Being pessimistic or only seeing the negative side
How does stress affect our hair and skin?
- Changes in appetite
- Avoiding responsibilities
- Increased use of alcohol, drugs or cigarettes
- Nervous behaviour; nail biting, pacing, fidgeting
Now we know a little more about stress, what it is and how to recognise it. How does stress and its effects, affect our skin? How does it trigger the ageing process?When our bodies begin to feel stressed, our bodily reactions kick in. The body releases the hormone adrenaline into the body. the body then reacts as though its being attacked and shifts into survival mode. The first bodily function to shut down is the skin, so any vital functions that keeps our skin looking gorgeous and radiant stop dead in their tracks.
- Our skins natural antibodies that protect our skin decrease dramatically. Allowing bacteria and germs to enter the deeper layers of the skin, causing breakouts and problematic skin.
- High levels of anxiety and stress could begin to decrease your skins natural levels of moisture. Suppressing hypotonic acid production, causing our skin to look dry and dull, increasing the rate of premature ageing through dehydration.
- Extremely anxious times can trigger Telogen Effluvium. This is a condition in which the hair begins to thin, potentially causing hair loss. Hair would usually have a predictable pattern of growth, falling out and growing again. This is known as our hair growth cycle. In some cases less of the hair follows this pattern and causes the scalp to thin. In more extreme cases is has been seen to develop the condition alopecia, where clumps of hair shed leaving bald patches on the scalp.
- Anxiety and stress can cause some of us to develop a behavioural tic, subconsciously pulling at our hair or picking at the skin, which could lead to wounds or scarring. These actions can cause scarring and balding, potentially becoming a permanent problem.
How cam we resolve and manage stress?
Some days its difficult to not become overwhelmed once in a while. Juggling work, family other commitments we can become stressed and anxious. We need to set aside time to unwind or our mental and physical state will suffer.
- TAKE FIVE: In moments of stress, step away from the situation and sit somewhere quiet. Take a few minutes with slow deep breaths, inhaling in through your nose and out through your mouth. This will slow down the adrenaline release, allowing us to calm down.
- ME TIME: Take time for yourself. whether it be, meeting a friend for coffee, booking yourself a little treat; such as massage or facial or something as simple as reading your favourite book. Taking this time helps to decrease stress levels, allowing us time to reflect and rebalance.
- EXERCISE: Working out regularly is a great stress buster, allowing us to relax our mind and body. Exercise will not only help us to destress it will also help to improve our mood; but for it to pay off we need to exercise regularly. Try to focus on setting achievable fitness goals, so you don't give up. most of all; always remember any exercise is better than no exercise at all.
- TAKE TIME FOR HOBBIES: Taking time for things we enjoy is always important. Try to do things regularly that makes you feel good, this will help relieve your stress. it doesn't need to be a great deal of time, even just 15-20 minutes will do. Relaxing hobbies include things lie: Reading, Knitting, An art project, Puzzles, Watching a movie, playing cards.
- TALK ABOUT YOUR PROBLEMS: “A problem shared is a problem halved”. If things are bothering you, talk about them This can help to lower your stress levels. Talk to family, friends, your doctor or a councillor. You can also talk to yourself. This is called self talking, we can all do this. But for it to be effective it needs to be positive, not negative. Listen closely to what your thinking when you feel stressed out. If your giving yourself a negative message, try to think positively. Instead of telling yourself “you can't do it”, tell yourself “you can do it” or “I'm doing the best I can”.
- GO EASY ON YOURSELF: Finally; go easy on yourself. Nobody in life is perfect no matter how hard we try. We can't always control everything in life. so do yourself some justice and stop thinking you can do so much. LAUGH!! Don't forget you have a sense of humour. Laughter goes such a long way towards making you feel relaxed.
Thank you again for taking the time... I hope this can be of some use; even if this just helps one person, thats good enough for me.
Good luck with kicking STRESSES ass ;0)