IT’S Stress Awareness Day on November 5 so let’s remind ourselves why we need to keep stress under control and not allow it to disrupt our health, our family and our life.
A bit of stress is a good thing – it motivates us to get things done – but too much is harmful to the mind and body.
The steroid hormone Cortisol is produced when you’re often stressed.
In time this will:
Affect your brain – making you forgetful;
Impair your immune system - making you more likely to become ill (about 90 per cent of illness is linked to stress);
Make you gain fat around your waist;
Cause you to age more quickly;
Lead to depression;
Interfere with your sleep;
Lower your libido.
Too much stress can even kill you! It raises your blood pressure and puts a strain on your heart.
Ask yourself – which sources of my own stress do I have some control over?
Some things you can change, some you can’t. You don’t have to let things wind you up. How you react is always your choice. Choose wisely.
When you’re feeling stressed I want you to think of ABBA.
The first A of ABBA is for the Adrenalin rush you feel in your body when you’re stressed.
The first B is for Beta brainwaves – those fast ones associated with panic, fear, obsessing and focussing on DOING, and on the outside world.
The second B is for Breath – make it slow and extend your outgoing-breath (this calms down your nervous system).
The last letter A is for Alpha brainwaves – the slower ones associated with calmness and clarity, when your focus is upon your inner world and on BEING.
Maybe a little ABBA song and dance will help too!
Also, regularly ‘take a minute’ for yourself.
Look at the seconds hand of a watch or clock for one minute – and really notice it slowly going around. Take slow deep breaths to calm yourself.
This will give your busy and stressed brain time to ‘pause’...preferably at least once an hour. Reee-laaaaax.
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy)
Maxine Harley has a masters degree in psychotherapy, has written two books, and created four new approaches to psychological, emotional and physical well-being. She lives happily in Chichester with her daughter and grandson.