by Nick Crispin
Do you work in an office? Sit down for hour after hour? Look at a computer screen all day? Are you experiencing difficulties balancing being a parent and working? Trouble with a family friend or work colleague?
Don’t worry you are not alone. All these factors can lead to a stress of some kind. To me stress is hugely underrated. I have had many clients over the years struggle to balance their life with the demands of work. I commonly hear ‘I’m too busy,’ or I haven’t got enough time’ and all sorts of reasons. Yet most of these people can be seen in the pub on a friday night 😉 Stress triggers a lot of emotion and binge eating is one of them. Its also a contributing factor to failing on a nutrition plan or new years goal you have set yourself. So 2014 is upon us. Lets start strong with a plan to maintain whatever goals we have set for longer than 2 or 3 weeks…
Stress is not an illness itself, but it can cause serious illness if it isn’t addressed. It’s important to recognise the symptoms of stress early. Recognising the signs and symptoms of stress will help you figure out ways of coping and save you from adopting unhealthy coping methods, such as drinking, smoking or most common binge eating!! Im sure we have all had our fill of cakes and chocolate to alleviate some kind of stress. I know I have. I often turned to a cheeky glass of wine back in the day.
Spotting the early signs of stress will also help prevent it getting worse and potentially causing serious complications, such as high blood pressure.
There is little you can do to prevent stress, but there are many things you can do to manage stress more effectively, such as learning how to relax, taking regular exercise and adopting good time-management techniques. Even a small change like getting out of bed 15 minutes earlier can make a massive difference.
Sedentary behavior, such as sitting or lying down for long periods, is bad for your health. Spending hours sitting down watching TV or playing computer games is thought to increase your risk of many chronic diseases as mentioned above but most commonly weight gain and obesity.
Not only should you try to raise your activity levels, but you should also reduce the amount of time you and your family spend sitting down. Common examples of sedentary behaviour include watching TV, using a computer, using the car for short journeys and sitting down to read, talk or listen to music. Im not writing to tell you to stop everything that involves relaxing or siting down. This message is to help you to have a balance. Walk instead of drive short distances. Set sporting goals for you to achieve short, medium and long term.
Previous generations were active more naturally through work and manual labour but today we have to find ways of integrating activity into our daily lives.
Whether it’s limiting the time babies spend strapped in their buggies to encouraging adults to stand up and move frequently, people of all ages need to reduce their sedentary behavior.
This means that each of us needs to think about increasing the types of activities that suit our lifestyle and can easily be included in our day.
Crucially, you can hit you’re weekly activity target but still be at risk of ill health if you spend the rest of the time sitting or lying down.
Whatever your age, there’s overwhelming evidence that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and even happier life. Thats were we come into it at The Field. As we always like to make clear we are here to help you with every aspect of life including stress. Exercise is a paramount feature combating this. You may say ‘I’m not stressed, everything is fine’. Have you failed at a nutrition plan? Tried to stop smoking and never fully grasped it? Stopped exercising for a certain period of time?
People who do regular activity have a lower risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers. Im sure we all know this. We want you to be fit & active but also happy, positive & healthy.
Physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This I’m sure is well known but still we miss the simple signs that things aren’t right.
So whats the plan? Enough of the negatives lets look at what regular exercise does:
It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner’s high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.
Its meditation in motion. After a Tacfit class or several laps in the pool, you’ll often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations and concentrated only on your body’s movements. As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything that you do.
It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise also can improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All this can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.
Sleep! Thats another story. A problem I suffered from for a long time. I found a formula that helped me sleep better and enjoy a balanced life. It took time but I got there in the end. A bad nights sleep can lead to huge stress the next day before its even begun. I found that the more clean I ate and not eating late really helped with my sleeping. Also a lovely hot bath at least once a week(no wine sadly) really helped me relax. I thought I was a chilled out kind of person until someone pointed out how intensely fast I did things. I didn’t even notice. All of a sudden It was so obvious I couldn’t believe i hadn’t seen it. Every now and again I notice I’ve picked the pace up a bit and recognise I need to slow down.
So heres a recap & final informative note.
Distress is a bad type of stress that arises when you must adapt to too many negative demands. Continuous struggling with too much stress can exhaust your energy and drive.
Eustress is the good type of stress that stems from the challenge of taking part in something that you enjoy but have to work hard for. Eustress pumps you up, providing a healthy spark for any task you undertake.
Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure.
Pressure turns into stress when you feel unable to cope. People have different ways of reacting to stress, so a situation that feels stressful to one person may be motivating to someone else.
Stress can affect how you feel, think, behave and how your body works. In fact, common signs of stress include sleeping problems, sweating, loss of appetite and difficulty concentrating.
You may feel anxious, irritable or low in self esteem, and you may have racing thoughts, worry constantly or go over things in your head. You may notice that you lose your temper more easily, drink more or act unreasonably.You may also experience headaches, muscle tension or pain, or dizziness.
Stress causes a surge of hormones in your body. These stress hormones are released to enable you to deal with pressures or threats — the so-called “fight or flight” response.
Once the pressure or threat has passed, your stress hormone levels will usually return to normal. However, if you’re constantly under stress, these hormones will remain in your body, leading to the symptoms of stress.
If you feel any of the above try to work on a plan to help yourself. Exercise is obviously what we would prescribe. We know from experience that this works. The more you do the better your stress levels should become.
Nick Crispin – The Field.