7th November is Stress Awareness Day

The first Wednesday of November is Stress Awareness Day. Stress is essential in our life. It motivates people to prepare or perform, for a test or interview for a new job. In certain situations, it can even be life-saving - in response to danger, your body prepares to face a threat or flee to safety.

But modern stress triggers, such as job stress, relationship stress and financial stress can become overwhelming to the body. And failure to manage, or deal with, stress, can lead to serious health issues, including raised blood pressure, a susceptibility to heart disease, disrupted sleep patterns, increased mental health issues and a compromised immune system. And these things can roll into each other, resulting in greater ill health. And therefore, greater stress, which can manifest as headaches, sleep issues, digestives problems, mood swings and more frequent incidents of illnesses such as flu or colds.

So what can you do to manage, and/or, reduce your stress levels?

  • Learn to recognise the signs. Identify your body's response to stress, and get professional help if you think you need it.

  • Get regular activity into your day. Just 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise can help boost your mood and reduce stress harmful levels.

  • Try a more relaxing or meditative activity such as Pilates or yoga. This allows the bodies sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight system), to rest, and the parasympathetic nervous system (the rest and digest system), to kick in, reducing heart rate and therefore blood pressure levels.

  • Set realistic goals and decide what must get done and what can wait. Recognise when saying yes will overload you and don't be afraid to say no if it means you stay in control. And at the end of the day, acknowledge what you have accomplished, and try not to focus on what you have been unable to do.

  • And always get professional help if you think you might need it.

EssentialsMAG fitness contributor is Helen Conway from Bodywork Pilates www.bodywork-pilates.co.uk. Tel: 01978 512401

Victoria Lee