Why stress is the silent killer and ways we can combat it

Why do we worry so much? Life is certainly a lot more complicated today compared to 100 years ago. Back then, many of the stresses were external, such as food, water, security, war and disease. Fast forward to 2018 with all our forms of communication including TV and Internet. We are bombarded with worries such as terrorism, finances, politics, comparisons and jealousy on social media and pressure to fit in, earn well, become educated, appear a certain way in society, look cool and keep up to date with South Korea, Syria and the Kardashians. It’s all too much!

We worry excessively about things that simply do not affect us, even if the media tries to make you think that it does.

Heightened levels of stress can:

– increase our chances of developing heart disease, mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder

– affect our relationships with family or friends with negative, nervous tension

– stress has been linked to health conditions such as irritable bowels, hair loss, hormone imbalance and skin problems

– stress negatively affects our memory, mental clarity and can cause extreme tiredness, where people may start to rely on caffeine to get through the day.

There is no denying that many people have life situations that warrant some sort of stress, but a mind that constantly worries gets nothing done. When you are reading a book or an article such as this one, does your mind wander? Do you start thinking about what to make for dinner, or why your Aunty was rude on the phone last week or the frustration of pushing the kids to do their homework later this afternoon? Why not try just living in the present moment. If you made the choice to read an article, or drive to the shop or do the dishes, allow your mind to just enjoy THAT present moment. Allow the mind to be quiet, still and be fully involved in the “now” rather than events of the past or future.

A few great ways of keeping the mind connected to the present moment to reduce stress include:

– Keep a device free bedroom. No phones, laptops or tv. Bedrooms are for relaxing and sleeping. Staring at your phone before bed excites the mind and is an unhealthy habit. It has actually been shown to reduce the brain’s ability to produce melatonin, a hormone we need to sleep well.

– Gardening, playing with your pets, admiring nature and exercise are all excellent ways of managing stress. These types of activities help our brain to produce serotonin and dopamine, the happy hormones of the body.

– Learning to meditate helps us to practise being “present”. Meditation has been scientifically proven to reduce blood pressure, improve memory and reduce stress. If you feel like you don’t have time to meditate, consider how much time you spend watching TV. Have a TV free day and you will be amazed at the spare time you have!

When stress turns into a more serious concern, with symptoms like anxiety or panic attacks, thoughts of self-harm, aggression, reliance on alcohol or drugs, insomnia or feelings of extreme sadness, it is important to see a qualified health practitioner. Counselling and /or pharmaceuticals are sometimes necessary and we must never be ashamed to talk about how we feel. It is better to do so before the problem gets worse. If you notice issues with a family member or friend, it is your responsibility to help them get the assistance they need, because they may not be in the right mindset to do so.

Diet plays a huge part in maintaining good mental health. Here are my top 5 tips for keeping the brain healthy and stress free:

– Drink a lot of water. A dehydrated brain will be fatigued. How much water have you consumed today?

– Almonds, fish, avocado and pumpkin seeds are excellent brain foods as they are high in Omega 3

– A strong B Vitamin supplement taken after breakfast is a great way to feed the brain natural energy, much healthier than a coffee

– Ginger, chilli, rosemary, black pepper, Brahmi (bacopa) and Ginkgo Biloba increase circulation to the brain and assist with energy and mental clarity

– Avoid alcohol! Alcohol can make anxiety and depression worse, and is therefore best to be avoided

If you or a loved one would like further information or assistance with stress, anxiety, depression or other mental health concerns, get in touch with us at the clinic.


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