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BBP33 How Does Stress Affect Your Health?

Lessons for Leaders

Release Date: 04/05/2019

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Stress comes in all shapes and sizes. Stress can be defined as any type of change that causes physical, emotional or psychological strain.  The term ‘stress’ refers to the response you have when facing circumstances that force you to act, change, or adjust in some way to maintain your footing, or to keep things balanced.  
 
In small doses, these factors increase your strength and stamina, speed your reaction time, and enhance your focus. This is where some people will say stress is good for you!  So, does stress affect your health?
 
Stress is a huge contributor to people needing time off work. Surveys suggest that over 10 million people in the UK are taking time off due to stress and stress related illness.  Mental health issues, including stress and anxiety are the reason for one in five visits to a GP.
 

What’s Going On?

When you are stressed your adrenal glands are forced to produce more cortisol and adrenaline (the main stress hormones). These hormones prepare the body for emergency action.
 
  • Heart pounding or beating faster
  • Breathing quickens or become more shallow
  • Muscles tighten
  • Arms or legs shake
  • Blood pressure rises
  • Your senses become sharper
All of these are automatic reactions coming from an area of the brain called the amygdala. That’s like your internal fire alarm. This stress response has existed in humans since we were cavemen. Life was much simpler then and life and death situations really meant life and death! Now, they don’t.  However, your brain has not figured that out!
 
Here’s the thing. When your internal fire alarm is going off, it also switches off your thinking brain. So you can’t think clearly or logically!!!
  

Is Stress Affecting Your Health?

Stress that continues over long periods of time can contribute to serious health problems.  Stress can affect you in many ways.
 
  • Weakened Immune System and catching colds more easily
  • Sleep Issues
  • Low Energy, feeling tired all the time
  • Feeling Overwhelmed
  • Memory Problems / Poor Time Management
  • Anger Issues
  • Being Negative
  • Aches and pains for seemingly no particular reason – tight shoulders, clenched jaw, stiff back
  • Spots! Cortisol clogs your pores
  • Thinning hair 
Often we only notice the emotional effects of stress, however there are many physical impacts too.  So it’s important we do something about our responses or even our lifestyles to counter-balance this.
  

Causes of Stress

The hormone responses are there for times when you are being chased by a tiger or a bear, not for any of these listed blow!  There are many events in life that can cause stress.
 
  • Wrong or Difficult Job
  • Redundancy or Unemployment Worries
  • Long Hours
  • Conflict with Colleagues
  • School or College Pressure
  • Friendship Difficulties
  • Test Anxieties
  • Financial Worries
  • Negative Relationships
  • Loneliness
  • Parenting Challenges
  • Unhealthy habits
The people that I see regularly, come to me for coaching and other help because they still don’t want to go to their GP and they don’t want to take time off or alert their employer that they are feeling under pressure.  
 
If you think stress is wrecking your body, then make it a point to get things under control. Remove yourself from toxic situations and plan some stress-reducing activities.  
 
Often when I go into the workplace to provide short training sessions there's quite a misconception about what stress is and whether the staff are affected.  Do please make sure you improve your understanding!  Investing in stress management and wellbeing is now widely recognised as being beneficial to your entire workforce and your business. In fact, employers have a legal responsibility to protect employees from stress in the workplace.  You can see more about the training HERE.
 
Get in touch to talk about how I can help you and your workforce to get stress under control.