The First Step To Tackling Stress
So just waking up on a high from my “Living Life Stress Free” workshop yesterday and the knowledge that it is Stress Awareness Week this week, I’m here early on Monday morning thinking of a post to write about stress…
I feel passionately about how stress impacts our modern lives. It was only when I started looking into stress directly during my training in Nutrition that I connected the dots. Stress affects everything! It is the insidious, sometimes slow building, sometimes overpowering, gremlin that can change so much of who we are.
The founder of modern stress theory Dr. Hans Selye came up with the term “Stress” in the 1950s showing what a relatively recent condition Chronic Stress is. Later on in his career he said if he had had a better grasp of English at the time he would have called stress “Strain”.
Strain for me encapsulates so much of how I view stress. Strain is the efforting, the heaviness, that feeling that everything is down to you, everything is on your shoulders. So often when we are experiencing stress the last thing we do is ask for help. In a yoga class the other day a wonderful teacher reminded us to give ourselves permission to ask for help and it brought a tear to me eye.
The hormones that are released when we’re experiencing high stress levels, such as Cortisol, impact so much of our internal chemistry. Cortisol can lower our Serotonin levels which has been linked to feelings of depression, it affects our blood sugar leading to energy slumps and irritability, and cortisol lowers our Melatonin production which then affects our sleep. There it is, stress directly relating to a low mood, energy crashes, irritability and disrupted sleep.
But through all this there is a hormone we have that can lower our cortisol levels and therefore lower the stress load on our body, that hormone is Oxytocin, often called the “love hormone.” This wonderful hormone actually has the ability to alleviate social anxiety and produce feelings of trust. It reduces stress, reduces cortisol and lowers blood pressure. And it drives us to seek support and connection.
This to me connects the reality of stress to what my yoga teacher spoke of in class, we need to let down our guards, our internalisation of emotions and seek support and connection with our communities, our tribes, and our loved ones.
Yes, there are many other ways that stress can be dealt with such as through nutrition, exercise, breathwork, meditation and personal development which are all tools I use with my 1-to-1 clients. But, there is nothing greater than asking for help. Receiving support and allowing yourself to experience the feelings of connection and understanding that you are not alone, you don’t have to do it all yourself, you aren’t always superwoman and our mind and body can only take so much.
So today, with Stress Awareness Week upon us I encourage you to take those first steps and make those you love AWARE, acknowledge to yourself that you don’t have to do it alone.
Sending love to all those struggling with Stress.