April is Stress Awareness Month and here at VOYA we want to increase awareness on the matter, as it’s not surprising that there seems to be an anxiety epidemic happening.
Are you feeling stressed? Let’s take an educated guess and say yes, I mean, we all are a bit, aren’t we? The work/ life balance is difficult. Depending on your exact situation, typically environmental and emotional factors will get on top of you - without strategic alleviation plans in place. Whether it’s the pressure of an upcoming event, promotion, relationship, family, working long hours or just a specific someone who seems to really want to disrupt your inner balance and energy; many factors can push you down into an emotional rut. Sometimes people don’t realise that the stress they feel is negatively affecting their health and therefore immediate action is required. You are not alone. This is not a negative topic and talking about it doesn’t make you overly sensitive or a dark cloud of gloom, those very ideas are the stigma that needs to change to help people ease this problem.
Did you know?
“When we are stressed, we are in ‘fight-or-flight’ mode. Stress hormones flood the body and have a number of physiological effects, evolutionarily designed to increase energy and alertness, so that we can avoid danger,” explains nutritional therapist Hannah Braye.
‘’Stress wreaks havoc on the mind and body. Until now, it has not been clear exactly how stress influences disease and health. Now researchers have found that chronic psychological stress is associated with the body losing its ability to regulate the inflammatory response. The research shows for the first time that the effects of psychological stress on the body's ability to regulate inflammation can promote the development and progression of disease.’’
Do any of the following sound familiar?
Is your skin breaking out? When you are under stress it directly effects the inflammatory compounds in your skin cells, contributing to conditions such as psoriasis, atopic eczema, alopecia, and rosacea. Hair loss can also occur, all or which tend to really affect your confidence levels and cause further cycles of stress and it’s the pesky hormone, cortisol.
You get sicker easier than most, your ability to fight off germs viruses is significantly reduced, and you are more likely to get the flu or common cold. "When under stress, cells of the immune system are unable to respond to hormonal control, and consequently, produce levels of inflammation that promote disease. Because inflammation plays a role in many diseases such as cardiovascular, asthma and autoimmune disorders, this model suggests why stress impacts them as well."
Waking up over and over again during the night? It’s very common for people under stress to have trouble sleeping, stress hormones can cause hyper arousal which upsets the balance between being asleep and awake. This is a vicious cycle as the more tired you are they harder it is to deal or cope with certain people or situations, leading to more stress and no relieve.
Not in the mood? It has also been scientifically proven that the stress hormone (cortisol) that is released is made from the same compounds as oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. When you are stressed sexual hormone, pathways are blocked to help deal with demand which often kills the passion in the relationship.
Having trouble remembering exact conversations or even people’s names you’ve recently meet? During times of stress, the body reacts by stress hormones into the bloodstream. Stress can cause acute and chronic changes in certain brain areas which can cause long-term damage. However, an excess of cortisol can impair the ability of the hippocampus to both encode and recall memories.
Do you suffer with headaches and migraines? More common in females than males, this is a condition that has been widely misunderstood, a recent award winning documentary 'Out of My Head' really delves into the topic following different people that suffer with the illness.
What can help?
We all know that exercise is key to helping easing stress, so we have included a Yoga Workout created especially for stress. Try this one out tonight!
We wanted to provide easier methods that you can apply during those stressful situations or times it’s all getting a bit too much.
We know this sounds simple and boarder line patronising when someone else says it to you BUT honestly long deep breathes (which you can do anywhere) in the car, in the office, in the queue at the shop- can help to calm your entire body down. Just start breathing for the same count in and out start with four or six counts. You can do this all day.
Just taking yourself away from the situation can help reduce tension. Pretend you need to go to toilet, or ‘take a call’ even for 4- 5 minutes. When your return you might feel the atmosphere has changed and you may feel more balanced and more equipped to deal with the situation. Give yourself a break.
THIS, TOO, SHALL PASS
Stop beating yourself up, these anxious feelings will pass and it’s okay to have them, you don’t have to pretend you're fine as that will feed those feelings and make them grow. Tell yourself ‘I am having a stressful afternoon and I feel anxious but this won’t last forever.’ This doesn’t make the feelings go away but they don’t worsen and you will learn to trust yourself, as they do always pass.
ONE THING AT A TIME
Make a good list of what you need to complete and take pride in crossing one thing out at a time. Take tasks on one at a time until fully completed, if you try to take on too much because you feel flustered, you are going to end up accomplishing less and feeling less worthy. Own what you are doing currently working on.
Do you get sicker easier than most? Your ability to fight off germs viruses is significantly reduced, and you are more likely to When you are at home try to make ‘me time’ to spend alone and process the events of the day in a safe and comfortable environment, whether it’s a walk with some headphones (excellent escapism method) or a hot bath with some lavender essential for half an hour this really helps. Mediate and clear your thoughts.
Talk to your loved ones or close friends about certain situations which they might have an alternate view one, it’s always great to get another person’s perceptive but also to feel like you’re not alone in your views, the ‘me too’ factors help build confidence in yourself and your anxieties.