Managing stress

Just imagine what life would be like with less stress! Perhaps you would be calmer. Maybe you'd not worry as much or feel as anxious. You might have more time for the things you enjoy doing, with the people you care the most about. You could enjoy better and more refreshing sleep. You might be interested to find that you are more creative when you are more relaxed because stress blocks access to the part of your mind involved in the creative process broken

Stress is often caused by the way you look at things - the pictures you make in your head or the things you tell yourself about certain situations. Often breathing becomes high and you may not even notice, until this becomes your natural unnatural way of breathing. Your body stops releasing calming endorphins, the balance is tipped, and if unchecked you begin to live in a constant state of panic.

Every time you experience a stressful event, 1400 biochemicals are released throughout your body and one in particular, cortisol, can accelerate aging.

While cortisol is necessary for a variety of things, including the production of cholesterol, which together with cortisol fuels the body, it's also known as the stress hormone. And when you experience chronic stress, you can have too much of it. Once cortisol is released it remains in your body for up to 5 hours. Stress also increases the acid levels in your body and so you produce more cholesterol to prevent the acid burning through your arteries and organs.

Of course one bad day at the office wont hurt. Every stress-related burst of cortisol accumulates in your system. The frustration of a traffic jam. Meeting a deadline. Someone winds you up. Eventually, over time, the ratio of cortisol to DHEA, the vitality or anti aging hormone, gets out of balance. Stress levels maladjust. It is as if your thermostat sets higher and higher until the 'normal' levels are in the red zone.

Here are some of the side effects of chronically high cortisol and low DHEA levels:
  • impaired memory and learning

  • brain cell death

  • reduced muscle mass

  • reduced skin growth and regeneration

  • weakened immune function

  • furring of the arteries to protect against the acidity of the blood

  • increased blood sugar

  • decreased bone density; increased osteoporosis

  • increased fat accumulation around waist / hips
People talk about beating stress. There is no such thing as no stress - stress is what motivates us to get out of bed in the morning. You just want to keep levels within a healthy wave band. That is why we need to learn to handle stress. To recognise when it begins to build up to the danger zone. To continually turn down the thermostat, keeping it at healthy levels.

There are many ways to re-balance and you will find your favourite - some you can use in a matter of a few minutes - at your desk, on a crowded train, in a queue! Meditation. Breathing techniques. Visualisation/ sensualisation. Gentle movement. Physical positions which enhance positivity and calm. All of these can help you to turn down the thermostat and soothe, so the stress barrel never fills.

Next time you feel angry, frustrated or irritated give your DHEA levels a boost. Take a deep breath out and imagine a delicious wave of relaxation rippling down your body. Then recall a positive or fun time in your life and imagine you are re-experiencing it. Enjoy the release of beneficial chemicals which restore balance to the system, an effect which can last for several hours. enjoy this exercise