We all know what it feels like when we are overloaded and stressed out - but how many of us really understand the long term consequences of prolonged stress?
As stress is probably one of the most talked about topics at the moment, you are probably aware that events and issues that we don't want or like produce high levels of cortisol. They stimulate an automatic reaction (meaning we can't control it) called 'fight or flight'.
This produces a huge cocktail of body chemicals to make us strong, brave, give us stamina, sharpen our senses and give us the extra energy to run away or fight our way out of trouble.
The body is a brilliant and smooth-running machine and doesn't like to waste energy. When either running or fighting, we use up these chemicals with the very activity they help to support.
Setting aside the autonomic nervous system of fight/flight, we naturally produce cortisol starting around 4am and then it peaks around 8am in order for us to get up and out of bed. Without it we would probably wallow under the duvet until hunger forced us to go out.
The problem with the hard wiring is that it isn't discerning. It reacts to the multiple demands and pressures as if each was a predator or aggressor. Because we are "civilised", no matter how much we want to, we can't wrap our hands around someone's neck for taking the last parking slot and causing us to be late for an appointment. We can't run away from the office when yet another email pings from that irritating client, colleague or partner. This means that we can't "discharge" the chemicals so they just sit in our body.
Elevated levels of cortisol - the result of prolonged and constant stress - cause many problems from minor to major, including inflammation of joints, tendons and the gut. This means that we are more likely to suffer a strain, back injury or pulled muscle. Below are just some of the daily problems that are caused by stress:
• Weight gain
• Head, neck, shoulder and back aches.
• Sleep problems
• Digestive problems
• Heart disease
• Impaired memory recall
• Concentration and focus loss
Building resilience with correct training will enable you to increase your capacity, manage your reactions and reduce stress levels. These in turn will lower cortisol production and increase wellbeing and general health. And because stress is something that doesn't often get addressed until breaking point, we're offering workshop to help with this. We are holding a digital detox workshop, which is aimed at helping combat one of the biggest contributors to modern day stress - technology.
Some practical things to do immediately to help:
• Go for a 20 minute walk each day -split into smaller sections if necessary - somewhere outside in nature
• Turn off all IT equipment and don't check social media for at least 2 hours before bedtime
• Take something light to read in bed - hard copy not e-book
• Drink more water
• Move around in the office more. Stretch, walk to the water cooler more often.