Modern-day lifestyles often dictate a more hectic and faster-paced way of living, which can often result in raised stress levels; but what is the definition of stress? The classic definition of stress is ‘any real or imagined threat, and your body’s response to it’. Stress is often considered a mind-altering state and the causes of stress produce a physical reaction in the body.
When a person feels overwhelmed by a situation, they throw their bodies into a ‘fight or flight’ response. This response physically increases the heart rate, increasing blood pressure, and blood is moved from your mid-section of the body to the legs, arms and head, for quick thinking and for fighting or fleeing.
Some stress is unavoidable and can actually be of benefit such as the adrenaline rush for needing to meet deadlines, however stress becomes a problem under the following circumstances:
If you are continuously in an overwhelming mode.
When your response to that mode is negative.
When your emotions and reactions are inappropriate to the stressor.
Prolonged stress can be linked to heart disease, muscle pain, chronic headaches, insomnia, weight loss and some digestive disorders; it is also considered to be the single biggest killer of the 21st century. Read More…
Q: I have a stressful job and sleep badly, waking between 2am and 4am feeling incredibly depressed. I feel better when I finally get up.
A: This type of insomnia is a common result of daytime anxiety, according to the late Dr David Servan-Schreiber, psychiatrist and author of Healing Without Freud or Prozac (Rodale, £8.99*).
There’s a vulnerable moment at the end of the first long period of deep sleep (about four hours into the sleep cycle) when we cross over into the lighter REM sleep (dreaming time). ‘Underlying anxiety of any kind manifests itself during that fragile transition,’ he said.
Sleep disturbance and anxiety leading to depression are interconnected, according to pharmacist Shabir Daya: ‘A relentless train of negative thoughts can begin with the tiniest kernel of reality then escalate out of proportion.’ Stress of any kind upsets the delicate balance of our hormones; it starts with the adrenal glands overproducing cortisol, which prevents mood-lifting serotonin getting to the brain. At night, serotonin is normally converted to melatonin, the sleep hormone. With insufficient melatonin and a fractured mind, it’s very hard to sleep. Read More…