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Managing Stress


Stress is usually a physical response to mental pressure. When you are stressed your body thinks it is under attack and it switches to ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ mode, releasing hormones that cause your heart to beat faster and elevate your blood pressure.

Today, physical threats are an infrequent cause of stress. However, the body still produces the same physiological response if you are being attacked by someone or speaking in front of a crowd.

Stress can be a positive force in our lives. Keeping us focused, alert, and at the top of our game. Too much pressure, or the wrong kind, can harm our health. Just the right amount of stress can help energise an individual. Good stress pushes you out of your comfort zone, but in a beneficial way; it is shortlived and infrequent. On the other hand, bad stress lasts a long time; it is chronic, ongoing, and can be depressing. That being said, when stress is too low, you can become bored, unfocused and directionless.

The challenge is when our body goes into a state of stress in inappropriate situations. When blood flow is going only to the most critical muscles needed to fight or flee, brain function is minimised. This can lead to an inability to ‘think straight’- a state that is a great hindrance in both our work and home lives. If we are in a state of stress for long periods, it can be detrimental to our health. The results of having elevated cortisol levels can be an increase in blood sugar and blood pressure levels and a decrease in libido.

Our reaction to stress depends on the kind of stress it is, how prepared we are to meet it — and how we view it. Some people go with the flow and can adapt well to what others would regard as highly stressful events. Other people crumble at even the slightest challenge or frustration they encounter.

To manage stress, adapt some of the tips listed below to your daily routine.

• Identify the cause of stress. If you feel stressed, write down what’s on your mind, what your mood is like, and what is causing you to feel anxious. Pin-pointing a problem enables you to strategise a plan to overcome the obstacle. This practice also helps you to accept the situation instead of fighting it; you will feel a sense of relief.

• Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to combat stress. It might sound strange but putting physical stress on your body through exercise can help relieve mental stress. This is achieved by reducing cortisol levels and by releasing endorphins. Try to find an activity you enjoy, such as walking, dancing or yoga. • Practice relaxation techniques: Yoga, meditation and deep breathing, help your body relax and make you feel calm. Aromatic therapy is also a form of relaxation. Try adding a few drops of essential oils to hot water and inhale. Relaxing scents such as chamomile and lavender used in diffusion help invoke a calm and relaxed mood. A wide range of essential oils and blends are available at Flamingo Pharmacy.

• A good night’s rest helps in lessening stress levels. Sleep is the body’s natural way of restoring and rejuvenating itself. If you are having trouble sleeping for the generally recommended seven to eight hours per night, natural supplements such as melatonin and valerian might help as they act as mild sedatives. Remember to consult a doctor or pharmacist as some supplements can interact with specific medications or may not be suitable if you have specific health conditions.

• You do not have to face it alone! An active support group is a fantastic way of handling stress. Find that one, great, sympathetic friend to lend an ear or show support. Spending time with a loved one can drastically alleviate stress. We advise you to seek medical help for chronic stress, as this can lead to other health issues.

• Make time for yourself. Find a balance to maintain your commitments as well as carving out time for yourself. Personal time helps you to rejuvenate and start over. This will lead to a healthier and happier you.

Written by the staff of Flamingo Pharmacy