Modern day living, healthy eating, parenting, work life balance, being thinner, taller, faster, fitter……. Clean eating, getting enough sleep, having enough friends, earning a good living, enjoying my job……Practising mindfulness, having a home worthy of an interior magazine, helping the kids do their homework, being kind, noble, wise and calm, looking like you have got it all together when underneath you are paddling like a duck on a merry go round on full speed.
Blah, blah, bleurgh!
How much stress (self-inflicted or not) do I have in my life? And does it ever get any easier? I can feel the effects stress has on my mind and body, but could one worry too many have a much bigger impact on my longer term health, body and mind?
Stress is often described as the body’s way of coping with harmful situations – the fight or flight scenario is at the end of this axis. But much lower down the scale, our body reacts by increasing our heart rate, pushing up our blood pressure and causes reactions like head aches and knots in our tummies. For me, I find that stress increases my appetite for foods and alcohol and decreases my levels of sleep and energy.
What Are the Consequences of Long-Term Stress on my life?
A little stress every now is perfectly normal. Ongoing chronic stress can cause or exacerbate serious health problems, including:
– Mental health (including depression)
– Decrease in your desire to be around your partner physically and emotionally
– Gastrointestinal problems, such as ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
I can tell that my stress levels are high simply by looking in the mirror. Being in a stressful period can give me:
- Dark circles under my eyes and deep set blood shot eyes
- A larger waistline as I scoff lots of food when I am not on top of things – I know that directly increases my chance of cardiovascular disease too
- I sleep terribly, in patches and wake early in the morning thinking things over
- I bite my nails and the cuticle around my nails
- I neglect my general appearance because it doesn’t seem to matter so much.
All of which can make me feel worse and more stressed!
With this in light, 2016 has seen me take small steps to reduce my stress levels. I try to care less about the little things in life I can’t change, I turn off TV which makes me sad, stop reading books that are boring me, and avoid people whom I find negative. I find time for a simple hot bath, a run in the park, time with a mate that makes me laugh, a roll around on the floor with my kids (think a cross between Big Daddy and Wonder Woman!) and some simple nourishing food that’s not from an expensive shop full of frills, but just something simple that reminds me of a happy time (tinned tomatoes on toast with a cup of tea works for me).
It’s not ‘New Age’, nor is it trendy and I won’t be writing a book any time soon, but little changes make for a better outcome regarding my stress levels and ultimately my health, and maybe they can for you too.