Modern life is stressful, we know that stress and our lifestyle choices can have a significant impact on our general health and wellbeing. An estimated 12.5 million working days are lost annually to work related stress in the UK. (HSE survey 2017)
The question is what can we do to redress the problem?
In our increasingly busy 24/7 society, we find ourselves constantly connected to each other and the wider world – text, phone, email, social media; feeling pressurised to respond and react instantly to messages and requests regardless of the time of day, unable or, in many cases, unwilling to “switch off”, add to this financial worries, family pressures - the result of this lifestyle is excessive STRESS and its detrimental consequences for our health and wellbeing. Yes, stress in short bursts is good for us, helping us to respond and function effectively, however as we now know, the constant pressures of modern living associated with elevated and prolonged stress has led to a rapid increase in stress related health problems. Chronic stress is now acknowledged in Western society as being a significant factor affecting our wellbeing, impacting on both our physical and mental health, leading to a wide range of health problems including; low mood, anxiety, headaches, addiction, digestive problems, sleep disorders, muscle pain, increased risk of heart disease, hormone imbalances, high blood pressure, impaired immune system etc. Consequently, our healthcare system is breaking under the increased strain, and as such we need to be more pro-active in managing our stress levels.
If you have concerns about your health or are experiencing any symptoms of ill health, it is important to first seek advice from your doctor to rule out any underlying serious conditions. If the diagnosis is stress related, then self-help becomes important; following the widely advertised advice i.e. eating a healthy diet, regular exercise, activities such as meditation and mindfulness practises can all help to reduce / manage your stress and your body’s response to stress, thereby improving and maintaining your general health.
Regular use of complementary/holistic therapies can play an important role in managing stress, helping to calm and relax the mind and body whilst providing a safe and comfortable space away from the hustle and bustle of life. These therapies are primarily designed to encourage the body to work naturally towards restoring its own unique healthy function, rather than treating specific ailments. The philosophy being that of cause and effect - if we can relax and reduce stress then in time the symptoms caused by stress will gradually subside. Complementary therapies are not miracle cures or a quick fix, nor should they be regarded as a replacement for conventional medicine and can work very effectively alongside medical treatment. They cannot, however, alter your day to day stresses, that is down to you as an individual, your mindset and lifestyle but they can offer positive support, a coping mechanism. It is simply a question of finding a therapy that suits your individual needs, what works for one person may not necessarily work for another, so be prepared to try several different therapies until you find one that you feel comfortable with.
Increasingly, research is showing that meditation, mental focus and the power of thought can have a significant impact on our physical and mental health. Therefore, any practice that encourages a sense of calm, and promotes meditative qualities has the potential to assist the body in achieving optimum health and wellbeing.