Stress is generally thought of as a bad thing, but we all need a certain amount of stress in our lives. Without stress, we wouldn’t have the motivation to go to work or complete tasks on time.
People handle stress in different ways however, and the levels of stress one person may deal with comfortably will be far too much for someone else. Stress is one of the major reasons why people take time off work, and can have other serious health consequences too. And of course motherhood brings a lot of stresses with it and combined with a lack of sleep it can exacerbate the stress.

Effects of Stress

Someone who is suffering from symptoms caused by extreme stress may become depressed, lethargic and unable to cope with the day to day routines. Decision making may become very difficult, and the feelings of anxiety and being unable to cope can last for some considerable time. People suffering from severe stress may need to look at changing their job completely, and with the help of a therapist or counsellor, dealing with the issues in their life which are causing them to become stressed.

Links to other Conditions

As well as being a problem in itself, someone who is stressed can be far more likely to develop other medical conditions as well. There is a strong link between stress and stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, indigestion, heart attacks and even skin conditions such as eczema. Anyone who suffers from these sorts of conditions will be advised by their doctor to look long and hard at their lifestyle and consider whether there are some factors which can be altered in the hope of lessening their stress levels. Issues such as blood pressure and skin conditions can be eased by medication, but will not disappear completely until the stress is dealt with.

Stress and Weight Loss

The classic perception of stress is that it causes weight loss, in that someone who is rushing around and trying to do a million things at once will not have time to eat and will therefore lost weight more quickly than someone who is laid back and unstressed. This is not the case for many people however. If someone is rushing and busy, they may not make the most healthy choices when it comes to eating; it is quicker and easier to pick up a takeaway on the way home than to prepare a balanced, healthy meal. Stress and worry about not completing tasks may also lead to comfort eating on fatty and calorific foods such as chocolate or chips.
The net result is a poorly balanced diet, and eating poorly will heighten the feelings of stress and anxiety as the person does not have enough of the proper nutrients in their diet. There is also evidence that shows that increased cortisol in the body from stress increases stomach fat which explains why if you are constantly stressed you can still have a little pouch of stomach fat

Reducing Stress

There are many things that can be done to reduce stress levels, but the first step is to recognise when stress is becoming a problem. This will vary from person to person, but all of us can benefit from taking time out to do some stress-busting in a healthy way. Although people often say drinking alcohol, smoking or overeating is the way to deal with stress, there are many better methods.

  1. Exercise. There is a link between physical activity and a reduction in stress. The type of exercise is unimportant, as long as it involves exertion. Swimming, walking and running are all great forms of exercise for people who are stressed.
  2. Reading. Taking time out from the daily grind to relax with a novel has been shown to reduce stress levels by two thirds. Try to choose a time to read where you are unlikely to be interrupted.
  3. Bath. Although not to everyone’s taste, a long soak in the bathtub with some pampering products can help the brain switch off and relax completely. The key to a successful bath is ensuring uninterrupted use of the bathroom.
  4. Deep breathing. A quick-fix stress busting technique which can be done at the office desk is to close your eyes and take a few deep breaths in and out, focusing only on the breathing. This technique is used to treat anxiety and can help calm you instantly.
  5. Laughter. Watching a comedy movie or a DVD featuring your favourite comedian which makes you laugh is one of the best ways to reduce stress levels. Laughter is truly the best medicine and the ideal way to unwind with friends.
  6. Massage. Treating yourself to a massage using aromatherapy oils will give time to relax as well as to switch off totally from the pressures of everyday life. Oils such as lavender have been proven to relax someone who is stressed, and other good oils to use include cedarwood, lemongrass and sandalwood.

And click here to see some stress busting yoga moves