Sunday, 27 March 2011

Stressful surroundings

Something I’m always on about … and you may be bored of hearing … is how bad stress is for your health. But every time we perceive something as stressful our adrenal glands will produce adrenalin. This hormone is designed to protect us from a physical threat by raising blood pressure, dilating pupils and releasing glucose stores into our blood preparing us to fight or run away. However in the modern world most stressful situations are not best dealt with by fighting or fleeing. Consequently regular stress can lead to health problems such as elevated blood pressure, weight gain and fluctuating blood sugar levels.

A lot of people wouldn’t think of themselves as stressed people however most people in the city usually have a few sources of stress in their life. This is why I often get clients to make a list of everything that has caused them stress in the last week, whether it is a difficult situation at work, being stuck in traffic, or being kept awake at night by a noisy neighbour. I then get them to go through the list and note down one practical step they can take for each item to avoid that situation or minimize it’s impact the next time it arises.

Something that becomes apparent from this is often how much stress someone’s surroundings can cause them – living somewhere noisy, too hot or cold, cramped or a long commute from work can lead to constant daily stress. This is why living somewhere you like and feel comfortable and relaxed is so important as you will spend so much time at home and it should be somewhere you can wind down from a stressful day at work.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to move, just have a think about your home and your immediate surroundings – is there anything you could do to make it more comfortable, a new mattress to help you sleep better, some extra cupboards so you can keep the area clutter free, an extra heater to keep your home warm enough over winter, could you rearrange the furniture or cupboards to help you find things more easily and better use your space? It’s also worth considering more serious factors – are the people you live with a source of stress? Do you feel safe in your neighbourhood? – not just for where you live now but for anywhere you might move to.

This might seem all very un-nutrition related, but creating a calm living environment can help calm your nervous system and reduce stress on the body which can have a profound effect on your health.

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