Stress: What it is and what you can do about it

Do you find it hard to concentrate, struggle to make simple decisions, worry more than usual, feel ‘down’, or over-anxious, feel tired but can’t sleep – you may be suffering from Stress.

What is Stress?

Stress is what happens to the body when the level of pressure it is feeling goes beyond its natural ability to cope with it.

There are a number of ways that we can feel stress.  Take a look a list below to see if you can identify with any of the changes:

  • Physical changes: A lack of energy, aches and pains, change in bowel habits
  • Behavioural changes: Emotional eating, eating more or less, craving more junk food, increase in alcohol consumption
  • Emotional changes: easily irritated, feeling low, feeling tired
  • Cognitive changes: feeling negative or negative thoughts, difficulty concentrating, avoidance.

What happens to our body when we are stressed?

Learning what happens to our bodies when we are stressed is important to understanding why we feel how we do.  When looking at stress the most important link to be considered is the Hypothalamic, Pituitary and Adrenal.  It is this junction where the brain chemistry, or neurotransmitters interact directly with the Endocrine tissue to produce heightened reactions throughout the body.  It’s the point where the brain activity meets hormones and can result in dramatic effects.

The two main hormones involved in this process are:

  • Corticotropic releasing factor (CRF)
  • Adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH)

These in turn cause the production of:

  • Adrenalin
  • Noradrenalin
  • Cortisol

The role of the hypothalamus is to communicate between the Autonomic Nervous System, behavioural functions and the Endocrine system.  The hypothalamus delivers the hypothalamic hormones into the anterior pituitary gland.  The hypothalamus is the first to respond by stimulating the pituitary to release ACTH into the blood stream, which activates the adrenals to release cortisol.  Simultaneously, the brain stem is also activating the Autonomic Nervous System.

During acute stress this level of release increases causing the adrenal glands to produce the two hormones adrenalin (from the medulla of the adrenal gland) and cortisol (from the cortex). Adrenalin provides short term essential requirements, like increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure and boosts the release of energy into the system. These are all critical when there is a perceived threat.

Cortisol however has an effect on long term non-essential requirements – it decreases and suppresses non-essential body functions during a fight or flight reaction. This is fine for the body over the short term, but in the long term this suppression is highly negative to health.

Elevated cortisol levels from prolonged or chronic stress can cause side effects such as:

  • Suppression of thyroid function
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Decreased bone density
  • Blood sugar imbalances
  • Reduction of immunity and inflammatory responses

How can Reflexology help?

Regular Reflexology sessions can reduce the effects of stress on the body and improve your overall health.  Reflexology possesses the capacity to cancel out the effects of stress, help the body to reach a place of deep relaxation and help to balance the body systems.

Through the relaxation process, the body is more capable of dealing with the stresses placed on it.

How you can help yourself?

As a reflexologist I like to empower my clients to take control of their lives and not let their lives control them.  This may include homework, where I can show them reflexes that they can work on their hands between sessions.  I also like to encourage my clients to take time out for themselves, maybe:

  • Spending time in nature
  • Curl up with a good book
  • Listen to music
  • Take a bath with some scented candles
  • Going for a walk

If your feeling stressed at work you could:

  • Take regular screen breaks
  • Arrange to meet a friend for lunch / coffee
  • Avoid having lunch at your desk
  • Go for a walk at lunch time

It is important that whatever goals you set yourself to manage your stress, ensure that they are small and achievable.  By setting more achievable goals you will be more inclined to stick to them and be on your way to a stress-free futureIf you would like to know more about Reflexology or how it may benefit you please feel free to get in touch:

or call me:Nicola
07825 213719




Over 1/3 of British residents feel stressed for at least one full day


39% of UK adults admit that they feel too stressed in their day to day lives.


54% of people who are stressed worry about the impact it is having on their health.


85% of UK adults experience stress regularly


32% of people use exercise to overcome stress

When was the last time you did something meaningful for you personally?

As you sit down and focus on what you will achieve in your working day, take a moment to think about when you last set yourself a personal exercise goal that you reached and when was the last time you did something meaningful for you personally?


For me, exercise is my escapism. It has allowed me to cope with stresses that would otherwise have crushed me. This allows me to clear my brain of all the negative thoughts or energy that may have built up during a day or between workouts. No matter what type of exercise you do, and at what level, as long as you are consistent with it, it can act as your catharsis and allow you to feel more balanced both physically and emotionally. This allows you to thrive in the work environment and make you feel full of energy.


Lots of us make a half-hearted commitment to eat well or exercise, but we always say that we are going to start tomorrow or on a Monday, why is it we don't start now?

We all have plans, deadlines and direction at work, so when balancing our work, social, personal lives, why do we not set our own goals? Make a clear commitment to yourself to make exercise a priority in your life and to ensure that you continue to balance your mind and body.

We all aim to reach our work goals but what about our personal ones? Do they always sit on the back burner?

Being honest with yourself, when was the last time you sat and thought about what you personally wanted to achieve? Go do it now, write down a few thoughts, what do you want to achieve for you tomorrow, a week from now, a month from now. Then imagine how amazing you will feel when you look back at what you accomplished by investing and committing to yourself.

Author: Kat Stock




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