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How does stress affect your body?

This April is Stress Awareness Month, a time to stop and focus on the ways in which you can go 'from distress to de-stress'. This year's theme addresses 'regaining connectivity, certainty, and control', which are aspects of our lives many feel they have lost in the past year.

In fact, no less than 65% of people in the UK have felt more stressed since COVID restrictions began back in March 2020 (1) with the most common causes of stress (2) being work-related stress (79%), monetary/financial stress (60%), and family stress (48%).

So, with stress on the rise and Stress Awareness Month on the horizon, let's look at how it affects our bodies and what can be done to combat the signs of stress.

What is stress?

Stress is the way in which our bodies react to pressurised or threatening situations. Some stress can have a positive affect and help us complete tasks, but too much stress can manifest itself in a negative way. Over time, stress can impact us physically, mentally, and emotionally.

How does stress affect us?

No two people are the same when it comes to experiencing stress, but, broadly speaking, here are some of the most common signs of stress.

• Physically: Some people experience high blood pressure, chest pains, and indigestion. Others become more susceptible to colds, nausea, or skin complaints. Stress can also affect appetite and sleep patterns.


• Mentally: Experiencing stress has been shown to lead to self-doubt, poor choices, and problems with memory. It can also manifest itself in difficulty concentrating, indecision, and finding it hard to complete tasks.


• Emotionally: For some, stress can lead to feelings of anxiety, frustration, panic, sadness, and depression. Stressful situations can also leave people feeling overwhelmed, irritable, or angry.

How to relieve stress

When you're faced with a situation that feels overwhelming, breaking it down into smaller, more manageable tasks can help the situation feel more achievable. It also gives you the opportunity to celebrate reaching each stage towards your overall goal.

Talking of celebrating your achievements, taking the time each day to stop, acknowledge, and be thankful for the positive things in your life can be a mood enhancer as research (3) has shown that giving thanks can make you happier.

As the saying goes, 'A problem shared is a problem halved.' So if there's something on your mind, talking it through with someone else can help reduce any feelings of anxiety or fear you may have.

Leading an active lifestyle releases feel-good endorphins in your brain. Studies (4) have found that 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise can make people feel calmer, and the calm feeling can last for several hours.

You can find out more about Stress Awareness Month 2021 here. Plus, if you want to focus on your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing this April or at any time I'd love to help.

I created the Feel Look Be Formula to help busy women across the globe improve their mindset, nutrition, fitness, and health. 

"It's an all-round holistic programme that aims to improve what is happening inside as well as outside, mind and body."
- Feel Look Be member Antonia Polito

You can join April's Feel Look Be programme here.

Want to learn more about stress? Check out this video!

References

(1) https://www.stress.org.uk/national-stress-awareness-month-2019/
(2) https://www.perkbox.com/uk/resources/library/2020-workplace-stress-survey#:~:text=in%20the%20UK%3F-,In%202020%2C%20of%20British%20adults%20in%20employment%20%E2%80%93%20a%20staggering%2079,stress%20is%20on%20the%20rise
(3) https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier
(4) https://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/fulltext/2013/05000/stress_relief__the_role_of_exercise_in_stress.6.aspx#:~:text=Exercise%20and%20stress%20research%20has,for%20several%20hours%20after%20exercise

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