Stress if the way that you feel when pressure is placed on you from physical, psychological or chemical factors. Each of us has a different threshold and varying reactions to stress and therefore the causes are numerous and highly individual.

In general, some pressure can be good to motivate and help you perform better whether during a sporting event, at work, or with your daily activities. Too much for too long, however, can often lead to an unhealthy state of mind, body or behaviour. Excessive stress undermines performance, can make people ill and is costly to employers.

Stress Hormones

The body’s natural reaction to stress is for the nervous system to respond by releasing a flood of hormones, such as adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol, which help us fight or flee the situation. It is a normal, unconscious response to the sense of danger, emergency or challenging situation in which we find ourselves, and it is our body’s way of coping and protecting us. By virtue of what they do some of these hormones put us into a state of alert by increasing blood pressure and the heart rate as well as the amount of sweat that we produce. Others shut down emotions and functions not necessary in emergencies and the result is that growth, reproduction, digestion, the nervous system and eventually the immune system all go on hold and blood flow to the skin is reduced.

Once the stress response has been activated, it stays in a state of readiness. In many cases during daily life however, we are not in a position to either defend ourselves or escape the problem and so these excess hormones build up over time.

Physical Reactions to Stress

An excess build up of these hormones and chronic exposure to stress can lead to health problems such as:

Nervous Breakdown Anxiety\Depression Heart disease Pain and tightened muscles Digestive disorders Sleeping problems Respiratory disorders Obesity Autoimmune diseases Skin conditions such as Psoriasis and Eczema Infertility

Psychological Reaction to Stress

In the UK anxiety and depression are the most common mental health problems and the majority are caused by stress. Often these psychological pressures can cause us to exacerbate the problem in a number of ways, for example:

over eating for comfort taking stimulants or drugs to lift the mood or take away the pain you are feeling, which inevitably have after effects including disturbing sleep patterns excessive physical activity which can lead to burn out

Massage and Reflexology can both induce a feeling of relaxation and can reduce the effects of stress on the body.

In 2016/17 – there were 526,000 workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety (new or long-standing)

In 2016/17 there were 12.5 million working days lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE):