Stress Can Seriously Affect Your Health

Posted by on 14 Aug, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

By Annette MacCaul – 14th August 2014.

Prolonged stress has been shown to have a detrimental affect on our psychological and physical wellbeing. In a research study by Delongis, Folkman and Lazurus (1998) a significant relationship was identified between daily stress and health problems. They noted that people with poor social relationships, low self-esteem, and low confidence levels were likely to experience an increase in mental and physical health problems, and concluded that people with low psycho-social resources, such as optimism, coping style, a sense of mastery or personal control, and social support (Taylor and Seeman, 1999), are more likely to develop illness and mood disturbance when their stress levels increase (Delongis, Folkman and Lazurus, 1998).

Stress begins in the brain and affects the brain and body, triggering our survival responses (McEwen, 2008). Our early ancestors faced very real hazards on a daily basis resulting in the development of stress responses to enable us to protect ourselves against predators and aggressors. We developed a ‘fight or flight’ response to help us survive, and respond to perceived threats by secreting stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.

In reality, we rarely face life-threatening situations, but we still have the in-built automatic response which activates when our minds perceive we are in danger, regardless of whether the threat is real or imagined.

I often see clients who are exhibiting the stress response as a result of a heavy workload, fast-paced lifestyle, financial pressures or relationship issues. Even though a company restructure, divorce or exams are not life-threatening, they are the kind of situations that can create a great deal of stress for people. McEwen (2008) notes that stress inevitably creates wear and tear to the brain and body, and individuals may respond in a number of different ways such as; not sleeping, comfort eating, drinking alcohol, feeling depressed or anxious (McEwen, 2008).

When we’re under threat, we secrete stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol (McEwen, 2008), and these hormones can have a profound effect on our bodies. These hormones can lead to increased levels of insulin and blood sugar, and raised blood pressure, as well as suppressing the functioning of internal systems, namely our immune response, digestion and reproductive system (McEwen, 2008). They can also affect our mood and create feelings of depression and cognitive impairment (Dallman, 2003; McEwen, 2006).

I regularly see clients who report a wide range of stress-related conditions, including anxiety, digestive problems, high blood pressure, sleep problems, weight gain, concentration problems and decision-making impairment.

In order to help people who come to see me for problems and issues such as these I help them lower their stress levels by getting them to relax, giving their mind and body respite from the hormonal onslaught. Then, through to use of hypnotherapy, I help them to respond to their situation in a more constructive way by helping them to change their mindset and focus on the positive things in life. Pressman and Cohen (2005) found that by developing a positive outlook on life and having good self-esteem we can be healthier, however, poor self-esteem has been shown to increase cortisol levels, and therefore increase feelings of stress and anxiety (Kirschbaurn et al, 1995). McEwen (2008) notes that the best solution to overcoming stress and anxiety is to find ways to change personal behaviours to develop a more positive outlook.

If you would like to talk to me about how hypnotherapy could help you overcome stress, and the problems and issues that can occur as a result, or find out how hypnotherapy can help to increase levels of confidence, self-esteem, positivity, or motivation, please fill out the contact form, or call me on 01872 858 033.

References

Dallman, M. Chronic stress and obesity: A new view of ‘comfort food’; Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA; 2003; Vol 100; pp 11696-11701.

Delongis, A; Folkman, S; and Lazurus, R. The impact of daily stress on health and mood: Psychosocial and social resources as mediators; Journal of Personaility and Social Psychology; 1998; Vol 54(3); pp 486-495.

Kirschbaurn, C; Prussner, J; Stone, A; Federenko, I; Guab, J; Lintz, D; Schommern N; Hellhammer, D. Persistent high cortisol responses to repeated psychological stress in a sub-population of healthy men; Psychosomatic Medicine; 1995; Vol 57; pp 468-474.

McEwen, B. Central effects of stress hormones in health and disease: Understanding the protective and damaging effects of stress and stress mediators; European Journal of Pharmocology; 2008; Vol 583; pp 174-185.

McEweb, B. Sleep deprivation as a neurobiological and physiological stressor, allostasis and allostatic load; Metabolism; 2006; Vol 55; pp 520-523.

Pressman, S; Cohen, S. Does positive affect influence health?; Psychology; 2005; Vol 131; pp 925-971.

Taylor, S; Seemen, T. Psychological resources and the SES-health relationship; Ann N Y Acad Sci; 1999; Vol 896; pp 210-225.

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