8 signs You Have too much of the stress hormone

8 signs You Have too much of the stress hormone

Cognitive Hypnotherapy for stress Milton Keynes

So what is the stress hormone?  Well the main one is Cortisol, however the other one you may be more familiar with is adrenaline.

More or less we know that too much stress is bad for us; however, a small amount is a good thing, it gets us up in the morning and ensures we get on with our work for one thing.

Some people actually like the feeling of stress and adrenaline pumping through them; that’s all well and good but it can destroy your health and even your relationships as you seek the next big thrill or get irritable or easily angered.

Your body is quite amazing; it’s armed with self-repair systems that can fight infection and deal with diseased cells that may kill.

But these systems only work well when we are relaxed. However, if we are stressed our body can go into “fight or flight” mode, and then our repair system shuts down so you can deal with whatever it is that is causing the stress.

Causes of the stress hormone

Below are the signs you have too much cortisol and adrenaline:

  1. You suffer backache and/or headaches.

When your stress levels are high over a protracted period of time, your adrenal glands start to reduce. This raises the body’s sensitivity to pain, such as backache. When you have an overload of cortisol it also causes the brain to feel more pain, even a small twinge can stimulate the brain, causing headaches.

2. You are having poor quality sleep or insomnia

Cortisol levels should drop at bedtime, allowing your body to relax ready for refreshing sleep. But if the levels too high, you may get a second wind at bedtime. Then you either cannot settle and go to sleep or you wake up in the morning feeling you haven’t had a good night’s sleep and feel tired all day.

3. You put on weight and/or find it difficult to lose.

Cortisol is a hormone that tends to lead to a thickened waistline.  Even if you are exercising and eating healthy food you may find it difficult to keep to an even weight or even lose the excess.

4. You are run-down.

If you easily catch colds or other infections, that most people are able to shrug off effortlessly, then it may mean that Cortisol is switching off your body’s natural self-repair systems.  This may mean your immune system is compromised, leaving you open to all these bugs.

5. You crave unhealthy carbs.

You feel so stressed you just need something to take your mind off it.  Cakes, biscuits, milk chocolate, or even bread and pies; you look upon them as comfort foods.  All these foods raise your blood sugar and that combined with the hormone Cortisol raises your blood sugar, putting you at risk of diabetes and the tendency to become sick more easily.

6. Your sex drive gets lower and lower

You could well consider Cortisol as anti-Viagra, as when stress levels are high

libido-inducing hormones like testosterone drop and then your sex drive hits the deck. 

7. You have symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Your gut is very sensitive to stress. You might experience nausea, heartburn, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, or constipation all as a result of too many stress hormones.  In fact, science has proven that relaxation reduces symptoms of IBS.

8. You feel anxious or in a low mood.

Cortisol and adrenaline can lead to feelings of panic; doom and despair.  Your own prescription – go to your calm place and let all this stuff go.  Ask yourself “Will it really matter in a week’s time?

Are you struggling with stress?

Are you struggling with stress?

Deal with Stress at Set your mind free

In this modern world of ours, stress seems to be all around us.  Knowing how to manage stress is important to our physical and mental health.

While some stress is to be expected, and can in some instances be welcome (e.g. getting you out of bed and to work in the morning), an overload of stress may lead to anxiety, depression, bingeing and panic to name but a few.

The cumulation of chronic stress, may, over time lead to extensive damage to the body and mind.

However, other factors in your life such as good food, exercise and restful sleep all play an important part.

Is Stress Always Negative?

As I said above some stress is a normal part of our lives.  It’s perfectly normal to worry about an exam, or finances, or an interview as an example.  If we think about the solution to the problem that is causing stress, then is there any point in hanging onto it?  Probably not!  In fact, finding a solution to it can help us to find an answer to a problem.

It’s only when the stress becomes overwhelming and causes changes in our behaviour or mental and physical damage that it becomes problematic.

And, of course, when stress goes on and on stress hormones are produced which may damage the body and overwhelm the mind.

Indications and Symptoms of Stress

Every person’s stress is unique as everyone is different. So, what bothers one person may not be important to another.

But each of us has some stress in our lives, and to manage that stress we first need to recognize it.

Symptoms of Stress affecting the body

There are several ways in which stress can affect the body.

Here are some of the usual ones:

  • Stomach Issues: Stress may cause things like acid reflux, bloating and indigestion and can cause or make worse IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
  • High blood pressure: Stress is a real risk for heart attacks and strokes.  Usually this results from high blood pressure and, in fact, some people get so frightened of having it taken it goes up higher than normal (white coat syndrome).
  • Thrombosis (blood clots): Stress can also increase the possibility of blood clots, again this may be due to high blood pressure.
  • The Immune system: Stress may weaken the immune system leading you to catch more illnesses; for example, coughs, colds and infections.
  • Rise in glucose levels: When people feel stress then their blood sugar levels may rise, in both diabetics and non-diabetics. This may in part be the result of stress harming the metabolism. 

Symptoms of stress affecting the mind

There are also many mental symptoms of stress to be aware of:

  • Temperament: When people feel stress, it may also lead to other mental health problems such as anger, anxiety, irritability and depression.
  • Losing concentration: Stress may also cause difficulties in focusing, which may have an impact on work life.
  • Depression: Stress may cause you to be fighting a low mood which may permeate into both work and home life. And in some cases, may lead to avoidance behaviour, particularly in terms of a social life.
  • Compulsions: When we feel stress, it can be easy to look for something to provide comfort.  So, addiction may become an issue.  Alcohol, cigarettes, sugar, junk food, over the counter medication or drugs.
  • Exhaustion: Although it may seem strange to put this under the mind section, you cannot only be tired physically but also mentally and then you find you cannot be bothered with anything.  Maybe just sitting around mindlessly watching the TV.  So, both physical and mental stress is a sign of chronic stress.

When we recognise the signs and symptoms of stress then it may be easier to seek help.

The link between stress and lifestyle:

  • Our food choices: Stress is not only connected to a feeling of being over-whelmed but also is connected to the food choices we make.  So, eating junk food and a high sugar/starchy diet may lead to inflammation in the body and make it more difficult for our body to process food.  On the other hand, good nutrition leads to both an improvement in both physical and mental wellbeing.  Of course, when you are feeling stressed, you possibly cannot be bothered with anything and so it’s much easier to opt for something quick and easy. There is a real correlation between unhealthy food and mental health issues.
  • Other areas of life affected by stress: Unhealthy food choices are one area that may increase stress levels; there are much more. Not getting enough sleep is one.  When people are stressed they may find it difficult to go to sleep or may wake up in the early hours with a mind full of anxiety.  They may not take much exercise or get fresh air, resulting in a lack of Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) essential for good health.

Why one person gets stressed and another copes:  You could equate this to a pressure cooker.  Everyone has pressure in their life of some type.  However, depending on the cause, the lid may blow off (the pressure cooker) leading to chronic stress. So really, it depends on what thing/s affect you the most, how well you are, your work, your relationships, your lack of food, your sleep etc., as to how the pressure builds and leads to stress.

The leading causes of stress:

  • Worrying about something you need to do
  • Waiting in a queue
  • Getting ill
  • Being anxious about your health
  • Wanting to lose weight
  • Meeting work deadlines
  • Relationship concerns
  • Losing friendships
  • No one to talk to
  • Worrying about money
  • The death of someone
  • Having too much to do
  • Losing your job
  • Taking exams

Some of these things are relatively easy to resolve, e.g. worrying about exams – the answer is to ensure you have swotted well.  The death of a loved one cannot be resolved because it has happened, however, getting professional support may help you get over the worse.

How can I beat stress

Here are some stress management tips and ideas:

Share your worries

It is said that a problem shared is a problem halved.

So, sharing your worries or problems with an empathetic somebody can really help. Friendships are so important for you particularly if you feel stressed/anxious.

Plan treats

Looking forward to something is a great stress reliever.  Even if it’s a visit to the cinema or a drink with friends will result in you feeling more positive.

Chose quality food over quantity

Please ensure that every mouthful of food you eat adds value to your body.  Sugar has no benefits at all.  Think about the food you are purchasing, if it is natural then go for it if it has been through a factory process then think twice and check the label. Plenty of protein, vegetables and fruit are the way to go.

Get plenty of shut-eye

You will know how much sleep and the quality of it that makes you feel good.  So, plan for it.  Turn off all laptops, phones, TV an hour before bed.  Read a book, have a bath; get yourself in a sleepy state.

Get plenty of fresh air

Exercise, walk, stroll in the fresh air; the seaside, a wood, by a lake. If you move more in the fresh air your body produces endorphins which are a feel good hormone.

Write it down

If you find it hard to share your feelings with others; write them down.  This will get them out of your head and when you read them back another day you may realise that there was nothing to stress over, a good lesson for the future.

Relax, relax, relax

Whatever makes you feel chilled then do it! One glass of wine, a nice soak in the bath, watching a funny DVD or listening to a CD.  Whatever relaxes you just do it.

Move more

Moving more, whether it’s a lunchtime walk or a visit to the gym after work; yoga is very beneficial for relieving stress, you may feel a real downward spiral in your stress levels and a rise in good feelings.

Avoid excess stress

Excess stress may lead to both mental and physical decline in health.  If you want to improve your health then it is important to deal with stress, to guard against not only panic and anxiety but also heart disease and strokes.

Of course, additionally, stress may add to relationship problems both at home and work.

Finally

So, whilst a little pressure is ok extreme stress is to be avoided.

If you are extremely stressed, then do consider some counseling to help you through a bad patch.  I have dealt with many, many people who are stressed, anxious or panicked, through helping you by using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and relaxing Hypnotherapy. 

You may wish to visit my website www.setyourmindfree.co.uk for more information.  If you would like to pop to my practice in Great Holm, Milton Keynes then I would be more than happy to have a free half an hour chat with you to see if we can resolve your issue.  Just phone Leigh on 01908 265410 to book.

13 Things to do to Let go of Stress

13 Things to do to Let go of Stress

Turn stress into positive energy!

We all experience stress and frustrations every day, the childminder rings in sick as you’re about to leave for work, stroppy clients or colleagues pouncing on you the minute you walk into the office or the kids trashing their clothes just as you’re about to leave the house for the school run…

Everyone’s stresses are different of course and we all have different levels; We all know the effects stress can have on our lives and our health, it’s been well documented and many of us will take measures to help reduce our stress – meditation, gym workouts, art classes – generally making sure we create relaxing ‘me’ time.

However, channeled correctly, stress can actually be good for you!  Yes, honestly! Research shows that when short bursts of stress end, your body automatically goes into repair mode which in turn boosts your immunity…. I am of course talking about short, everyday stresses here and not long-term stress often caused by ongoing problems, divorce, bereavement etc. I’ve highlighted a few tips to help you deal with short-term stress and so maximise the health benefits it can bring.

  1. MOTIVATIONYou are far more likely to deal with stress if you focus on the outcome… your boss may be driving you nuts at the same time as you may be trying to buy your dream home… positive thinking along the lines of ‘I work to pay my mortgage so I can enjoy my lovely house’ will help you to cope with the work stress… it’s a means to an end!
  2. RELAXNothing new here – we all know it… counter stress with taking time out to relax – massage, sports, reading, coffee with a friend…. they all help keep the balance.
  3. CHOICESBeing forced into doing something is stressful in itself so it’s essential to turn what has to be done into a choice… ‘I choose to tackle money worries by planning so I can enjoy a less stressful life’.
  4. EXERCISERelease those happy endorphins by destressing through physical activity…. you’ll eat better, sleep better and have more energy in reserve for whatever challenges come your way.
  5. DON’T MULTITASK!Scattered thoughts drain your brain! When you do one thing, both halves of your brain spring into action. When you attempt two things, each side of your brain takes a task, but try and do three things at once and your brain loses focus.
  6. BREATHE!Take five minutes out from your busy schedule or a stressful situation to sit in a quiet room and breathe deeply and slowly. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it can make!
  7. LIST YOUR ACHIEVEMENTSWhen you feel you’re not getting anywhere, write a list of things you HAVE achieved… you will surprise yourself and be less likely to beat yourself up for not getting through a ‘to do’ list!
  8. 90 MINS AT A TIMEWe are human – we are not robots! We are designed to work in short focused bursts than to keep going endlessly all day… stick to 90-minute slots and then take a short break, take a deep breath, visit the loo or grab a cuppa.
  9. SHOUT IT OUT!Take yourself away from a situation and have a good old shout! Anger releases blood flow to the brain and releases positive emotions… this is NOT the same as venting your anger at someone else!
  10. MUSICIn the movies, the hero always acts to some motivating music… no reason why you can’t do the same when you need to get something done! Calm, tranquil music is also soothing when you have a few minutes to unwind.
  11. STRESS CALENDARIf you feel that your stress is ongoing, at the end of each day score out of ten how much it’s affecting you… if the score is five or more for over two days, it may be time to seek help from outside or take time out.
  12. MAKE A BREAK BETWEEN HOME AND WORKHard as it may be, it is important to try and separate home and work… try stopping off at the park for ten minutes on your way home and give your brain a chance to wind down before walking through your front door.
  13. LET IT GOSometimes we have to accept that some of the stresses in our lives simply cannot be turned into a positive… this is when you need to make plans to change your situation to reduce the stress or simply accept you can’t solve a problem and let it go.

As I’ve already said, the tips outlined here are great strategies to help you deal with the irritations and stresses of day to day life… if these do not help or your stress is caused by something out of your control and that is ongoing, it may be time to seek outside help. Your GP is often the first port of call, a trusted friend whose judgement you value or maybe this is a time to consider hypnotherapy. By tapping into your subconscious in a deeply relaxed state, I can help you get to the root of your problem and help you find solutions and a way forward. Call me for a no-obligation, free consultation to see how hypnotherapy can help you to enjoy a stress-free life.