What is stress?
Stress is the way our bodies respond to a threat. This threat could be real, like walking down a dark alley, but might also be perceived, like a deadline at work. Our body responds the same way to both types of threat by creating a ‘fight or flight’ response. This response releases two stress hormones: adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones cause the symptoms of stress that we can feel like a racing pulse, migraines and tight muscles (1).
Who experiences stress?
Everyone experiences stress at some point. High levels of stress can impact our sleep, mood and overall mental and physical health.
Try these tips to reduce stress (2):
- Regular exercise like walking or swimming. Exercise raises endorphins (a happy hormone) and lowers cortisol.
- Reducing caffeine intake.
- Listen to music.
- Aromatherapy e.g. the use of essential oils or scented candles.
- Regular sleep cycles.
- Spend time with friends, family or pets.
- Talk to someone about your worries.
- Manage your time and be realistic with how much you’re able to do.
- Mindfulness or meditation – yoga is a great example of an exercise that does both!
So what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a way to lower your stress levels and increases happiness and focus levels (1). Mindfulness focuses on helping you manage stressful thoughts in a more positive way. Try these examples of mindfulness exercises (3):
- Focus solely on your breathing
- Scan your body for signs of stress or anxiety such as discomfort and aches
- Empty your mind and allow stressful thoughts to enter and leave without giving them attention
- Note down what thoughts distract you from mindfulness
- Focus on images or people and express positive thought towards them or yourself
- Take time to reflect on events or questions and become more aware of what feelings arise
Find out more about mindfulness here: https://www.headspace.com/mindfulness
(1) Mindfulness-based stress reduction for healthy individuals: A meta-analysis. 2015. Khoury, B., Sharma, M., Rush, S.E. And Fournier, C.
(2) Jennings, K.A. 2018. 16 ways to relieve stress. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/16-ways-relieve-stress-anxiety#The-bottom-line Accessed: 19/08/2020
(3) Headspace, Mindfulness. https://www.headspace.com/mindfulness, Accessed: 20/08/2020