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Burst Your Stress Bubble

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How much do you know about Britain’s silent killer? Get to grips with this tightly wound issue to ensure you don’t pop under pressure

A massive 40 percent of office workers are under dangerously high levels of stress, according to a new study by office supplies company Viking. Juggling long hours at work and high-pressure deadlines while trying to squeeze in valuable downtime with family, friends and partners may be the source of a build-up that could send your health into a downward spiral. In another study by the Henry Potter Advisory Committee (HPAC), one third of people surveyed said they spent seven or more hours worrying every week - that’s one precious hour or more wasted on anxiety every day.

Scarily, the results of the Viking study also highlighted that many of us hugely worrying of all, many of us simply don’t consider the long-term and far-reaching consequences of this daily squeeze on our bodies. From weight gain to dangerous heart problems, stress has been pinpointed as the cause behind a range of health issues.

Burst Your Stress Bubble

Burst Your Stress Bubble

This month marks Stress Awareness Month, an initiative that strives to highlight the causes of the modern stress epidemic - and how to beat it. Think epidemic sounds dramatic? According to the International Stress Management Association, 70 per cent of GP visits are related to stress. And that only covers those who head to the surgery!

If you’re one of the nine out of 10 people who report feeling stressed at some point every week, it’s time to give your mind and body a break. We’ve recruited top stress and anxiety expert Charles Linden (lindenmethodanxietyrecovery.com) underestimate the stress we’re under. Most to answer eight big questions about stress.

What’s the I difference between good and bad stress?

‘When stress develops, the body goes into “survival mode “, activating the flight or fight response. In small amounts this can produce positive results adrenaline can boost our focus. But when stress is prolonged and the adrenaline released during the response isn’t used up, we are more susceptible to high anxiety. The first step is to identify stressors and make sure you remain in control of their impact. If in doubt, chuck it out!’

But when stress is prolonged and the adrenaline released during the response isn’t used up, we are more susceptible to high anxiety.

But when stress is prolonged and the adrenaline released during the response isn’t used up, we are more susceptible to high anxiety.

Will stress affect my chances of having a baby?

‘There is mounting evidence to suggest that long-term stress can take a toll on the reproductive system. Stress hormones are produced and secreted in the same way as the hormones used during reproduction. When the body is in fight or flight mode many other bodily systems slow or even shut down. As a result, conception can be disrupted or delayed.’

Why do I break out in spots when I’m stressed?

‘Stress can cause dramatic changes in the way the endocrine system controls hormone levels, but it also changes the way the body utilizes fluids, which can cause the skin to become dehydrated. Load up on water, avoid dairy as it can mess with hormones, and try to include relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation in your routine.’

What impact does poor sleep quality have on stress?

‘Your body rejuvenates and repairs itself during sleep, so shut-eye is vital. Emotional and physical stress can have a huge impact on sleep, causing an imbalance in hormones such as cortisol. Never lie awake with an empty mind. Read a book to focus on something else and drink chamomile tea 30 minutes before bed to promote sleep.’

Your body rejuvenates and repairs itself during sleep, so shut-eye is vital.

Your body rejuvenates and repairs itself during sleep, so shut-eye is vital.

Does diet play a role in stress’?

‘Stress can slow the digestive process, altering the way in which food passes through your system. Blood flow is diverted away from the digestive tract, as it becomes more useful for taking oxygen and fluids to the muscles to fuel them for flight or fight. Certain foods, such as oats, are soothing to the digestive tract, while zinc-rich nuts and seeds regulate hormones.’ Can emotional stress affect physical health?

Yes. The autonomic nervous system, the part of your brain outside of your conscious control which regulates breathing, digestion and circulation, is the control center for emotions and it’s difficult to switch off its response. Prolonged work or life stress can raise blood pressure, cause digestive issues and upset both the physical and chemical equilibrium of your body and mind.’

How can I de-stress body and mind?

‘The brain is a complex and mysterious organ and the only way to change our neurology is through teaching the body to do the kinds of things that send impulses through the body’s network of nerves back to the subconscious mind, creating, modifying or replacing neural pathways in the process (neuroplasticity). Meditation is a really useful tool for lowering your stress levels, as are other deep relaxation techniques such as visualization and breathing exercises.’

Will exercise make me more or less stressed?

‘Pushing your body physically, when it is already being pushed to Its limit by your stress levels, could activate your body’s anxiety response even further. Walking is probably the best form of exercise you can do to combat stress and anxiety, followed closely by some sensible, steady-paced cycling. Any exercise that means you maintain a slightly elevated heart rate and allows you to stretch out, focus on correct breathing and gently exercise your muscles is great - so activities such as yoga or Pilates are real winners when It comes to winding down.’

Any exercise that means you maintain a slightly elevated heart rate and allows you to stretch out

Any exercise that means you maintain a slightly elevated heart rate and allows you to stretch out

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