What is stress? and how to reduce stress levels

A question we think we all know the answer too, or do we? There are so many different side effects to having stress it might not be that easy to notice. Lets take a look at a few side effects; Do you or anyone you know suffer with any of the following? -Anxiety & worry -Headaches & Migraines -Poor circulation -Muscle tension -Inability to relax -skin problems -Irritability -Frequent infections -Phobias and panic -Addictive behaviour -Lack of interest -Depression -Feelings of isolation -Insomnia Did you know these are linked to high levels of STRESS!

So what is stress?

Feeling stressed doesn't mean the world is going to end! Our bodies are designed to go into fight or flight response in stressful situations but what is stress and how does it affect our bodies? Anything from sitting in traffic to being faced with a bill we can't afford can create stress, our long working hours and family problems can all have an effect on our bodies and when our bodies are stressed it secretes Cortisol (the stress hormone) which stores fat in our bodies in stressful situations. Mainly because our bodies think that we are still cavemen and it can not recognise the difference between sitting in traffic or being chased by a lion! Small amounts of cortisol are important and are a helpful part of the body’s function as it helps with: -Proper glucose metabolism -Regulation of blood pressure -Insulin release for blood sugar maintenance -Immune function -Inflammatory response However, its also important to make sure that the body's functions -return to normal whilst we are relaxed. Which is why higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream (like those associated with chronic stress AND THE SYMPTOMS ABOVE) have been shown to have negative effects, such as: -Impaired cognitive performance -Suppressed thyroid function -Blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycemia -Decreased bone density -Decrease in muscle tissue -Higher blood pressure -Lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body, slowed wound healing, and other health consequences -Increased abdominal fat, which is associated with a greater amount of health problems than fat deposited in other areas of the body. Some of the health problems associated with increased stomach fat are heart attacks, strokes, the development of metabolic syndrome, higher levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL), which can lead to other health problems! You can make a huge difference to how your body responds to stress by making time for yourself, even if its just one hour a day to help relax your body and feel better for it! For ideas on reducing your stress click here