Have you ever suffered with stress? Or looked back on a situation and thought “I was really stressed then” but didn’t realise it at the time? This is more common than you may realise, in fact recent reports conclude we are a stressed out nation. The Mercer report found that in Ireland;
82% of staff are facing increased personal stress
59% are worried about their ability to maintain their job alongside a healthy lifestyle
The report even indicated that many people feel that their stress level directly impacts their health and their levels of motivation. We wanted to find more information on this, are we really that stressed?
The Irish Independent recently published that in Dublin stress effects 67% of the population. Half of these people have seen their GP about it, and 23% have been prescribed medication to combat their high stress levels. The main cause of stress was reported to be illness and money concerns.
The author of the book “The Upside of Stress”, Kelly McGonigal challenges most theories of stress. Kelly recently featured on the Ray D’Arcy show on RTE Radio 1 suggesting that new research shows stress can enhance health. It all depends on your view of stress and how your body responds to it. So if you feel stress is harmful it will have a negative impact on your health. However if you believe stress can be helpful you can experience the benefits of being in a stressful situation such as, improved motivation. This is called;
‘The Stress Mindset Effect’.
Kelly went on to explain that we have been told for years stress is toxic and it can be difficult to change people’s mindset. If we view stress negatively we may not share how we feel with others and subsequently not only feel stressed but also feel very alone and unsupported. However Kelly described that we have a natural ability to rise to a challenge in a stressful situation and that this could push us further in life and keep us motivated and challenged.
“Stress is the modern phenomenon to what happens to our body when we need to adapt/respond to life” Kelly McGonigal (2015)
Another recent article, this time from a psychologist, also suggests that healthy stress levels can push you to peak performance. Too much of it however can strain your heart, rob you of mental clarity and increases risk of chronic disease. Over a long period of time stress can have serious health implications.
As experts in the field of food intolerance we know that the impact of having a food intolerance can be very stressful. Dealing with food intolerances and trying to get to the root cause of the problem can send stress levels soaring. Our expert Dr Gill Hart, Scientific Director and Biochemist at YorkTest laboratories, explains;
“Many people will not be aware that 90% of serotonin, the brain’s ‘happy hormone’ is produced in the gut, and that the nervous tissue in our gut does much more than merely handling digestion – it is heavily involved in influencing our mental state. It is for these reasons that the gut is often referred to as the ‘second brain’. By tackling unidentified food intolerances, not only can physical symptoms benefit, but mental health symptoms can also often show improvements too.”
Finally, working out what reduces your stress levels or relaxes you can be beneficial. Consider the following steps to help you to combat your stress levels;
- Identify the cause of your stress – keep a stress diary so you can document and look back on what causes your stress levels to rise. This will enable you to either avoid the cause or tell yourself you won’t let it bother you anymore.
- Exercise – exercise helps to reduce stress hormones and instead release happy hormones!
- Breathe Deeply – when you are feeling overwhelmed stop and take 3 deep breaths in and out. This simple action can reduce blood pressure, muscle tension and help you to feel less stressed.
Beat the modern stress epidemic by incorporating our helpful tips, being mindful of your stress levels and how to lower them, ‘destress’ your gut and try a Food Intolerance test to identify any food or drinks that may be adding to your stress level.