Modern life is full of frustration, deadlines and demands. For many people, stress is so commonplace that it has become a way of life. In fact, research shows that 70% of Australians feel that stress is having an impact on their physical and mental health.
You can protect yourself by understanding how the body’s stress response works, recognising the symptoms and signs of stress, and taking steps to reduce its harmful effects.
The Fight or Flight Response
Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you you feel threatened your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones which get the body ready for emergency action: Your heart beats faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses become sharper. These physical changes increase your strength and stamina, speed up your reaction time and enhance your focus. This is known as The Fight or Flight Response and is your body’s way of protecting you in the short-term. However, when the body’s stress response is repeatedly or continually activated it stops being helpful and can start to cause damage.
Common Causes of Stress
The brain does not distinguish between normal day-to-day stresses and life-threatening events. If you are worried about a recent argument with a friend or continually feeling stressed about problems at work, your body will still activate The Fight or Flight Response, as though you are facing a life-threatening situation.
People most frequently cite problems with family, finances, health and work as causes of stress. However it is also important to realise that persistent negative feelings, negative self-talk and long-term worry can all result in stress and activate The Fight or Flight Response. Multiple studies have shown that emotional stress can trigger heart attacks, irregular heart beats and even sudden death. On the other hand, research has shown that positive feelings like happiness, joy and contentment can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Symptoms and Signs of Stress
Stress effects everyone differently however it is common to experience problems affecting:
Cognition – Difficulties with attention, concentration, decision-making, memory, and a busy mind that “never switches off.”
Emotions – Feeling anxious, depressed or low, irritable, moody and worried all the time.
Physical Health – Dizziness, fatigue, frequent colds, headaches, loss of libido, migraines, nausea, pain and stiffness affecting the neck,shoulders and back.
Behaviours – Difficulty sleeping, inability to relax, isolating yourself from others, nervous habits (eg. nail biting), procrastination and using alcohol, cigarettes or drugs to relax.
Lifestyle Strategies to Help Manage Stress
Everyone understands that lifestyle can have an significant impact on our level of stress.
Research indicates that lifestyle factors such as getting plenty of sleep, having a hobby or past-time, a healthy diet, meditation, regular engagement with a strong support network (friends and family), regular exercise and time to relax, can all significantly improve our ability to manage stress and cope when under pressure.
Heartmath HRV Biofeedback
Sometimes, simple lifestyle measures are not always enough and people need extra help to manage stress and perform at their best.
Heartmath Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Biofeedback is a globally recognised scientifically-validated stress-reduction program that is used by over 1 million people in over 100 countries, including on-site in clinics, hospitals, schools, the military and top companies. Research shows that HRV Biofeedback is as effective as physical exercise and meditation in reducing stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms and improving sleep and psychological well-being.
HeartMath HRV Biofeedback helps people to get control over their stress responses. A simple sensor, attached to the earlobe or fingertip, measures heart rate. Using the latest “cutting-edge” technology, people are taught how to control their stress responses within a few training sessions, and then encouraged to practice regularly at home.
Everyone Can Benefit
Whether you are experiencing symptoms of stress, or feel you need help managing stress, or are keen to simply perform at your best, HeartMath HRV Biofeedback delivers simple, measurable effective results that are quickly and easily learned by everyone, young and old.