Mental Health Awareness Week: What Is Stress?
Look around your office, do you know if anyone is struggling?
You may think those around you – fellow colleagues or your staff – are completely fine. But mental health affects us all and problems in the workplace are actually very common.
According to mental health charity Mind, at least one in six workers are experiencing common mental health problems, including anxiety and depression.
Nowadays, there is increasing recognition of stress and mental health problems, both within the workplace and in everyday life. Currently, following Stress Awareness Month in April, we are approaching Mental Health Awareness Week, which takes place from 13-19th May.
We thought it might be helpful to focus on some positive strategies to help, in terms of stress management and resilience. Whilst being particularly useful and relevant within the workplace, these can all be used in everyday life as well.
WHAT IS STRESS?
In its purest form, stress is the body’s reaction to something it perceives as dangerous or threatening. When we feel under attack, our bodies respond by producing a mixture of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These prepare us for physical action by diverting blood away from our core and into our limbs. It also temporarily shuts down some less vital bodily functions such as digestion.
For immediate, short-term situations, stress can be beneficial to your health, by helping you cope with potentially serious situations.
Yet if your stress response continues, and stress levels stay elevated far longer than necessary, it can take a toll on your health.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO TACKLE STRESS?
Chronic stress can cause a variety of symptoms, contribute to many health problems (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes, anxiety and depression) and affect your overall well-being.
Reducing stress can help prevent these harmful effects on both mind and body.
Looking after yourself and ensuring you have good mental health has many benefits – not just for you as an individual, but for the business too. Employees are generally more productive, passionate and motivated when in good health. Even if they’re experiencing mental health problems, knowing they are supported by their employer can help in the recovery process.
STRESS PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN STRESS MANAGEMENT
Ultimately, the best way to manage stress is through prevention rather than cure.
Research shows that those who are better informed about the practical ways in which they can lower their stress levels are far better able to tackle difficult situations with emotional resilience and determination.
Within the workplace, employers are encouraged to make promoting the wellbeing of their employees a core element of the company’s internal operations. Some examples of a proactive approach to stress-management might be:
- To invite people to take active breaks away from their desks
- Offering lunchtime yoga classes or mindfulness sessions
- Group walks in the fresh air.
So what can help you reduce stress? Continue reading our stress, with Our Top Tips For Reducing Stress.
If you are interested in how Fleet Street Clinic can assist your workplace with stress management and resilience training, get in touch. Or if you are an individual who needs help with stress management, you can book a GP appointment online.
Everyone lives such busy lives, so much so that stress now seems an inevitable part of daily life. Whether it be work, personal relationships or even keeping up hectic social schedules, there is often very little time to truly relax.
When stress is chronic it will affect the body in many different ways, interfering with normal body functions such as digestion, blood flow, your pain threshold and also your ability to sleep. Your risk for depression and anxiety, heart attack and heart disease, obesity, eating disorders, and several gut problems also increases.
Tension across the shoulders, headaches, short temperedness, insomnia, tiredness, aches and pains, digestive disorders or menstrual problems are all made worse when the body is stressed and chronic stress can often be the root of unexplained infertility.
Common effects of chronic stress could include the following.
- Upset stomach, diarrhoea, nausea, constipation, heartburn, or other gut issues
- Rapid heart rate or chest pain
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of sexual desire or reduced sexual function
- More colds or seasonal illness than usual
- Clenched jaw or teeth grinding
- Sore, tense muscles, especially in the neck and shoulders
- Constant worry
- Always seeing the “worst case scenario”
- Racing thoughts
- Feeling frazzled and unfocused
- Disorganisation and forgetfulness
Can you spot any of your mental or physical symptoms in the list?
So how does stress impact the body?
When subject to a stressor, adrenaline floods the body and primes the muscles and senses ready for action. Whilst this is useful to escape from danger, to meet that important deadline or to win the 100m race, when this ‘fight-flight’ stress response is constantly switched on, prolonged muscle tension and poor circulation eventually take its toll on the body. Often resulting in poor health, fatigue and ultimately adrenal exhaustion and collapse.
Our acupuncture specialist, Diane Timewell runs our acupuncture clinic in London. She takes a particular interest in the effects of chronic stress and how acupuncture can help with switching the body from this ‘fight- flight’ response into the parasympathetic ‘rest and digest’ side of the nervous system. Acupuncture can help with controlling stress and anxiety, as it affects the part of your brain that regulates emotions, reducing stress naturally.
Medical acupuncture stimulates acupoints of the body to promote the release of ‘happy hormones’ such as endorphins. This reminds the body to relax, let go of daily stress and signals that you are safe and secure so the stress response can be turned off. In doing so, proper circulation is restored allowing our internal organs to work as they should unhindered by tension. This produces a vibrancy and vitality that can be felt both physically and mentally.
When it comes to acupuncture treatment for stress, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Whilst there are many points that consistently improve stress, when acupuncture is used to treat stress, the treatment will be fully bespoke.
Stress affects everyone’s body individually and so Diane will work with you to pinpoint all your personal imbalances, treating your whole body based on your particular symptoms and pain areas.
You don’t need to feel unwell to benefit from acupuncture medicine. High achievers, Type A personalities, those who want to climb every mountain are very often sympathetic-dominant adrenal types. Adrenaline is the motivator of the body and so to some extent all successful people will benefit from a certain amount of stress. Learning how to switch it off after the target has been achieved is the key.
Acupuncture treatment is an essential tool for both physical and mental well-being. It can be an excellent way to learn how to take control of your health and switch off chronic stress.
At Diane’s acupuncture clinic, she creates a safe and peaceful environment where you can de-stress, reenergize and regain your natural well-being and vitality.
You can book an acupuncture appointment with Diane online.