Today research is suggesting that up to 80% of all illness is stress related, or, at the very least, illness is exacerbated by stress.
At this time of year, everything becomes busier and stress levels rise. For some, it can be an extremely difficult few weeks leading up to Christmas. This long-term “stress-response” state can, over time, start to damage all of the body’s processes and systems.
While stress is a part of life and at times difficult to avoid, if these stresses occur one after another, your body may not have adequate time to recover. While you may not be able to reduce or avoid the stressor, there are several things you can do to help your body cope during extra stressful periods:
Spend a few minutes a day focusing on your breathing. This can be done sitting up straight or lying flat. Focus on inhaling through your nose and exhaling out of your mouth to slow and calm your body.
Physical activity improves your body’s ability to use oxygen and also improves blood flow. Exercise also increases your brain’s production of endorphins which help diminish the perception of pain, and trigger a positive feeling in the body.
Sometimes enjoying something really special can really help with how you cope with stress. Plan a weekend away, enjoy a fancy dinner out or book in for some pamper time with a facial or massage. A little treat along the way can take the sting out of an ongoing period of stress.
Calling a friend or spending some time with people that care about you can relieve feelings of tension and help you find positive solutions. It is comforting to know that others understand your concerns and are there to support you. Remember, a problem shared is a problem halved!
This is good for both you and the recipient. Smiling sends nerve impulses from the facial muscles to the limbic system in the brain making you feel calm and relaxed. While it can be difficult during a stressful or upsetting period, endeavour to smile wherever possible. If this is a struggle, consider watching a funny movie or thinking about a great holiday or experience you’ve had.
Giving your body a little bit of extra TLC and support during stressful times is vital to ensure your ongoing good health.