Beat stress and stop it crippling your life. Under stress, your heart, brain, digestion, reproduction, skin and hair are directly affected. Experience our innovative, interactive and pragmatic approach that takes you beyond stress management alone and regain your health, vitality and zest for life.
Read a personal account of stress.
About our stress page
Stress is a contributory factor in many illnesses and issues affecting both your health and the quality of your life. This webpage contains information about stress and how it affects you.
The illnesses and issues presented on the rest of this website are far from being the definitive list of stress related life limiting concerns that we work with – so please explore our website and discover how we can help you.
In addition to the issues and illnesses with their own specific web pages, we help our clients with a wide variety of other stress related concerns ranging from Asthma, Diabetes and High Blood Pressure to IBS, Ulcers and Skin Conditions.
Take the stress out of stress management. Find out how by visiting ourconsulting website, orcontact ustoday to book your consultation.
Stress, the not so modern phenomena
The term “stress” is not a new term and has in fact been with us for many years. The origin of the word stress lies in Latin and stress is actually short for distress, which means “to draw or pull apart” – a sentiment that most people could relate to when feeling stressed.
Stress is not a new phenomenon. As a protective mechanism its origins can be traced back into our evolutionary past. An appropriate stress response is a healthy and necessary part of life that has helped us survive throughout evolution.
Stress is not all bad, it can create the environment in which some people excel and see problems as challenges that encourage their creative thinking. Some short term stress is actually beneficial to the immune system and can help create new memories.
But as a modern phenomenon with related illnesses, stress is actually quite difficult for scientists to define. Stress is the sum of the physical, mental, emotional, psychological and social tensions and strains that a person experiences.
As such, stress is experienced differently by all of us - for what is pleasurable and exhilarating to the ‘adrenaline junkie’ may be terrifying to someone else.
You feel stressed when what you perceive to be straining or threatening to your wellbeing exceeds your adaptive capacity and your existing coping mechanisms.
Your perception of threats has a major part to play in this and your stress response reflects differences in your personality as well as differences in your physical strength.
How you respond to stressful situations will not be the same as someone else, as we all experience and respond to stress in our own unique way.
For example, when under stress, you may comfort eat and put on weight, or you may lose your appetite and lose weight.
You may feel depressed and feel like you want to curl up in a corner and do nothing, or you may become hyperactive and flit from task to task, never completing anything.
Stress – not just a mind game
There are numerous physical, emotional, behavioural, mental and psychological responses to stress. Perhaps you blush, or your lips may tremble. Your skin may itch or go pale and feel cold to the touch. You may get headaches, back ache, muscle spasms and otherwise unexplained aches and pains.
Your digestion might suffer and you may experience knots in your stomach, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, bloating or heartburn.
You may get palpitations or chest pain that make you worry about suffering a heart attack, stroke or hypertension. You may experience frequent colds, infections and sores that take longer than normal to get over. You may be up all night “worried sick”, or have to get up frequently to urinate.
When you sleep you may suffer nightmares or disturbing dreams. You may be constantly tired and feel exhausted and feel that you never achieve anything in your life.
You may feel depressed, fearful or overwhelmed with panic attacks. You may have mood swings and feel anger, frustration, hostility and guilt. Your sex drive may diminish and you may experience poor sexual performance. Over time you may start to become obsessive and withdraw and isolate yourself
from others. You may have difficulty concentrating as you have so many racing thoughts.
Your work productivity might suffer, your creativity may “dry up”, your communication skills lessen and you may become excessively defensive or suspicious. You may become forgetful, disorganised and confused. Your speech might suffer, you may fall over your words, and you may develop a stammer
or stutter. Relationships are often a casualty of stress - marriages do fail under the effects of relentless stress and your children’s lives can be severely damaged by changes in you and how you interact and behave with them.
Over extended periods of time stress can take a very heavy toll on every aspect of your wellbeing and the quality of your life and that of those around you. By dealing with your stress, not only do you improve your emotional, mental and psychological wellbeing, you directly improve your physical
Stress directly affects your body
The wide ranging effects of stress on emotions, moods, behaviours and mental health are well known. Equally important, but less appreciated, are the physical effects of stress on the functioning of various systems, organs and tissues throughout the body. To better understand the effects of stress
on the body, a good starting point would be to look at human stress response as a biologically conditioned set of reactions that was an adaptive prerequisite for survival at earlier points in human evolution.
The fight or flight response
Your body is naturally hard-wired to react to stress in a way originally meant to protect you against real and perceived threats from predators and aggressors. When you encounter a threat, for example when crossing the road if you hear the sounds of screeching tyres close by, your natural alarm system
kicks in. Instantly your heart rate increases, you senses become more alert to the “danger”. Your reaction speed increases, you mental agility – the ability to make split second decisions sharpens. You are ready to run to safety…
Why does this happen?
The instant you perceived the threat, a tiny region at the base of your brain called the Hypothalamus sets off your natural alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerves and hormonal signals, this system prompts your Adrenal glands to release a surge of hormones including Adrenaline and
Cortisol. It is Adrenaline that increases your heart rate and raises your blood pressure and gives you a huge and instantaneous boost of energy.
Cortisol increases sugar levels in the blood stream and increases your brains use of glucose. It sends signals to shut down non essential processes that might be detrimental in times of fight or flight such as digestion, reproduction and growth. It alters the immune system response to prepare it for repair
and “damage control”. Your natural alarm system also communicates with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation and fear.
And when the danger passes?
… or when the perceived threat is over, your brain initiates a reverse course in an attempt to bring you back into natural balance – a state called homeostasis. As Adrenaline and Cortisol levels drop, your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal levels and other systems resume their regular
previously interrupted functions.
Your brain seeks equilibrium between the stimulating and tranquilising chemical forces in your body. If either of these forces dominates the other without relief, then you will experience an ongoing state of stress and internal imbalance.
This can have serious consequences for your health.
Men and women cope differently under stress
One of the most obvious differences between men and women is how they respond to stress. Men often resort to “fight or flight” responses whereas women tend to respond with a “tend and befriend” response. This could be because, evolutionary speaking, men had to confront dangers by overcoming or fleeing
from them, whilst women were responsible for nurturing offspring and befriending social groups that maximised the survival of the species in difficult or adverse times.
Brain imaging has shown that when under stress, different parts of the brain are activated in men and women.
In men, the prefrontal cortex is activated, whereas in women it is the limbic system that is activated i.e. the part of the brain that is primarily involved in emotions.
For both men and women it is observed that activation lasts longer than the stress itself, but more so in women than in men.
Men and women appear to respond differently to the same biochemical changes. For example, a reduction in serotonin function makes women more depressed and men more impulsive. This may explain why there is a higher prevalence of mood and anxiety disorders in women than in men and a higher prevalence of alcoholism, aggressive behaviours and impulsive control disorders in men
than in women.
Modern stresses send your primitive natural systems haywire
Your subconscious biological stress response developed many years ago and was designed to deal with mainly physical primitive stresses. It does not cope very well with today’s relentless stresses and stress is now one of the major health issues that we face as a “modern” society. Our stress response reacts to
emotional, psychological and mental issues in the same way as it does to real physical danger.
Whereas physical danger used to pass quickly, modern stresses are often protracted and as such your body remains in a dangerous state of alert for unhealthy periods of time. Our primitive warning system is highly effective at activating the systems that jump to immediate action to protect us against danger. It
is also very effective at keeping us in a state of “heightened alert” – even when the immediate threat has passed, we still remain “tuned in” and vigilant.
As such, the full relaxation response is slower to take effect - we can stay in this state of alert for some lengthy period, with all the resultant chemical processes that it entails. Because of this, we often have to take conscious and proactive steps to initiate the relaxation response and regain our metabolic
The systems affected by stress
In chronic stress, different systems and organs are affected. In time they may become either over or under activated.
Stress has a direct negative impact upon your heart and circulatory system. Increased rates of cardiovascular disease and hypertension have been linked to stress. Sudden stresses elevate heart rate and also cause the narrowing of the arteries which could restrict flow of blood to the heart.
Mental stress can lead to sudden increases in blood pressure that over time can damage the inner lining of blood vessels.
Emotional stressors can change heart rhythm and stress can increase the release of extra clotting factors into the blood and thus increase the risk of clot formation and blocked arteries.
Chronic stress has an accumulative effect on your brain, especially its ability to remember and learn. The accumulative effects of stress damage and kill brain cells. People coping with severe levels of stress find it difficult to concentrate, they may become clumsy and more accident prone. Stress can trigger mental
and emotional disorders such as depression, anxiety, headaches, personality and behavioural changes.
Stress can also dramatically increase the ability of chemicals to pass through the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) - an essential part of the brain’s defence systems against infection and the harmful effects of drugs.
Stress in elderly populations has been shown to reduce their performance in cognitive tests. Exposure to high levels of stress accelerates the degeneration of the ageing hippocampus which in itself creates a catch-22 degenerative cycle.
One of the first warning signs that you are under stress is when you have an upset stomach or other types of digestive disorders including constipation, bloating and IBS. Stress can aggravate diseases such as ulcers and inflammatory bowel disease. Stress can also lead to unusual and abnormal weight loss in some
and weight gain in others due to stress related eating habits.
Stress affects the reproductive system, sexual desire and sexual performance. It affects fertility through high levels of Cortisol.
In men, stress can lead to erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. In women it can worsen the effects of PMS, affect the menstrual cycle and even cause the cycles to stop. It can also increase the incidence of vaginal infections. During pregnancy, heightened stress has been linked to increased risk of
miscarriage and higher rates of premature births.
Stress can compromise your immune system and increase your susceptibility to infections and the development of illnesses. Stress has been linked to a host of viral disorders, from the common cold to HIV / AIDS and certain cancers as well as autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
Hair & Skin
High levels of stress may cause excessive hair loss and may be responsible for some forms of baldness. The skin can react adversely to certain chemical imbalances, either drying out, or becoming excessively oily. You may develop rashes, acne, dry patches, eczema and psoriasis.
Muscles & Muscular Skeletal Systems
Stress often affects the muscular and skeletal systems. Stiff shoulders, tension headaches and neck aches, generalised muscle tension and chronic aches and pains that never seem to diminish. Stress intensifies the pain of arthritis and other joint disorders and for certain peoples, emotional stress is easily converted
into muscle contraction and hence muscle tension and cramps. Under stress, the way that you carry yourself may alter. You may stoop - quite literally as if you carry the world upon your shoulders and over time this may lead to skeletal problems.
High levels of emotional or mental stress and anxiety adversely affect those with Asthma and other related lung aliments. The trauma and fears surrounding breathing and Asthma attacks can themselves create a vicious circle of enhanced stress and anxiety.
Subconscious stress responses
At a conscious level we are aware of the many stresses surrounding us. However, we may not be aware of the many subconscious triggers and factors that stress us. Evolutionary speaking, we developed a heightened level of awareness to warn us of “hidden dangers”.
This is a very fast subconscious warning system – and is triggered extremely rapidly and prior to any conscious awareness.
In a one of a kind scientific study on a single patient, it was shown that single neurons respond to aversive images within 0.12 seconds – which is faster than the patient can consciously see the image. Happy or neutral images did not cause the same rapid response from the neuron and the only difference between the
pictures shown to the patient was their emotional content.
What this highlights is that neurons are able to categorise emotional information from visual stimuli faster than is consciously possible. This supports the idea that often our natural alarm system kicks into action before we consciously become aware of the danger.
Kill the stress and regain your zest. Find out how by visiting ourconsulting website, orcontact ustoday to book your consultation.
Change your life today … Live, don’t just survive
At The Naked Gene Juggler, we believe that in order to overcome the stressors affecting both your health and the quality of your life, you need to resolve the different aspects of your stress, past, present and future.
We work with the many stress generating anxieties, traumas, worries and their associated illnesses that you face in your day to day life.
We help you resolve the root causes and subconscious triggers that provoke your distress.
Take the opportunity to be the director of your own life
We offer a pragmatic approach that is multilayered and encompasses goals for short term stress relief, whilst at the same time dealing with the underlying psychological and emotional issues, beliefs and perceptions that trigger your distress.
Take the proactive steps you need to kick your stress into touch. Re-energise your life and regain your vitality. Create a long lasting strategy that goes beyond stress management alone and improve the quality of your life and your health. Find out how by visiting ourconsulting website, orcontact ustoday to book your consultation.
Claire's Story Part I
‘The mornings were the worst. Getting the kids up and ready, the run to the childminder and to the school and then me to work was a daily battle. My husband helped with our eldest but the youngest was very clingy and won’t let him dress her. It had to be me, or there would be big tantrums.
She was at a difficult age and her tantrums were a bit of a nightmare and any delays in the morning really put me behind. I could not be late for work – it was not the done thing in my company and the stress of getting to work on time was a daily drama.
Work was great until about eighteen months ago when the economy took a nosedive. It was all about targets and it was much harder to get people to spend their money – each sale was harder, the clients knew they had the upper hand and they could be very rude at times, something I always found difficult to deal with. For a number of months we had not quite reached our targets and it felt like we were living
under the microscope. The last two weeks of a quarter were the most stressful and everyone seemed to be so much more irritable, the tension at times almost unbearable.
I never used to be ill, but looking back now it seems that I had one cold after another and they used to hang around for ages. About a year ago I started getting aches and pains. I ignored them for a while but one morning it was so bad I could barely even lift the youngest to put her clothes on. That’s when I started going to the GP. It seemed to be the beginning of a period of endless visits – nothing specific,
just a range of symptoms that each time seemed to coincide with the more stressful periods at work.
One day a few months ago I had what has been described as a panic attack. I was late arriving at the babysitters and the traffic was worse than normal. I remember listening to the radio and the next minute I felt that I could not move. I was terrified; I felt that my life was falling apart and that I had no control over anything. I literally wanted to crawl into a hole and not climb out. Somehow I got myself together
and got home but I felt completely numb and switched off from everything. I felt that I was in shock, just going around on ‘automatic’.
That night I did not sleep at all. The pain was worse than ever and the next day it was so bad I could not even get out of bed. I was off work for two months – "It's stress related", the Doctor said. At times I was in pieces; it felt that my world was caving in, that I was useless that I was a bad mother and a pathetic wife. Some days I can’t remember at all and it’s only thanks to my husband and my mother that my
life did not fall apart completely. My mood swings were terrible, one minute I would be crying for no reason at all and the next I would be yelling at them. I used to bottle up my feelings, just swallow my emotions and carry on, but the slightest thing would have me literally in a screaming rage. Looking back I realise that for a few weeks I was totally out of control. I don’t know how they coped and I felt guilty for
putting them through it. I knew I couldn’t help it and what seemed to make me feel even worse was the realisation that I had no control over my actions and emotions.
After a month off I started to feel a little better, not enough to go back to work, but enough to be able to take the kids out and do the shopping. I would still feel one step away from a panic attack – supermarkets terrified me and the lighting used to give me the worst headaches. Several times I felt the walls closing in and I literally had to grab the kids and run. Somehow, I got myself well enough to get back to
work. I think that more than anything else, it was the fear of losing my job that made me go back. I didn’t feel ready, not really and it was very difficult. I didn’t cope in the same way as before. I hated the pressure, I felt threatened by the slightest thing and I know my behaviour was different.
Work became an ordeal. I dreaded it. Every day I thought that this was the day when they were going to sack me. The bizarre thing is that maybe part of me would have been relieved had that happened. Home life was little better and I used to think that I was on the verge of having a Nervous Breakdown. I felt a wreck and I was so tense and short tempered that anything would set me off. It took my "hubby" to point out
that our eldest was actually becoming scared of me. The evening he told me that, I fell apart. The thought that somehow I was hurting our beautiful daughter was unbearable. I realised that I needed help and that my life was in real crisis.’
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