Stress – a word well known & all too familiar in today’s society

An estimated one in three people suffer from symptoms of stress at one time or another. This can take the form of panic attacks, crying, exhaustion, acute anxiety, loss of concentration, etc. Why should such a strong reaction suddenly happen? It’s the “flight or fight” biological response which is inbuilt into all of us. This response enabled our ancestors to react instantly to life threatening situations.

Adrenaline is a hormone generated from the adrenal glands situated at the top of both kidneys and is released into the blood stream when a person is under stress. A certain amount of stress is actually good for us. We need it to motivate us to get to work on time, to get through life in general. Sometimes small stresses get blown out of proportion and if not recognised soon enough can develop into panic attacks, fear of everyday situations, etc. Relationships, work and social lives can be blighted. This stress can develop into physical reactions such as shallow breathing, sweating, sleeplessness or stuttering. The condition can develop over a period of many years as well as over a short time and often the person can’t pinpoint exactly what triggered their feelings..

1 The Adrenal Glands

The adrenal gland are responsible for dealing with stress. When a person suffers prolonged stress. the body will increase adrenal activity and draw on his/her reserve tanks to enable him/her to deal with the situation faced.

2 Alarm Reaction

The adrenal glands will cope with this increased workload for a certain period of time by producing extra amounts of hormones. This is the “Alarm Reaction” and is the very function for which the adrenal glands are designed. It is a functional hyperadrenic response to stress.

3 Resistance Stage

After a period of time of continued stress. the adrenals will actually begin to increase in size in order to cope with the increased demands on activity. This increase in size and function is the basis of the “Resistance Stage”.

However. if the stress is prolonged it will eventually begin to overwhelm this resistance stage and the adrenals will eventually lose their ability to respond.

4 Exhaustion Stage

It is at this point that the person fails to cope with any additional stress and the adrenals simply fail to give him/her the essential burst of energy when it is needed. It is invariably at this stage that the person seeks medical help. The person may describe it as:

  • A total failure of energy. like letting air out of a balloon
  • Somebody pulling the plug out
  • A car that unexpectedly runs out of petrol

These are all indications of chronic function hypoadrenia, due to prolonged exposure to stress. The adrenal glands produce a wide variety of hormones so that persons with adrenal exhaustion can show a wide range of symptoms, depending on the nature of the person and the nature of the hormone depletion.

So – What can You do about it?

  • Learn to love yourself, appreciate your good points, know that you are very important
  • Learn to breathe properly
  • Relax – don’t just sit in front of the TV. Take up a hobby which genuinely interests you
  • Take more exercise – but don’t obsess on it
  • Eat a properly balanced diet, plenty of fresh fruit vegetables, drink plenty of water
  • Cut down on Coffee and Tea
  • Massage / Reflexology – Seek help from a complementary practitioner you can trust

When our physical, mental and emotional balances are upset we may need assistance to help restore our feelings of comfort and harmony. Touch connects us to the outside world bringing people closer together and is crucial for healthy, physical, emotional and mental development. Touch is an instinctive, natural body language that we all understand. It is from this instinctive / intuitive language of holding and comforting that the more professional structured forms of touch have evolved into what we now know and are familiar with as massage and reflexology.

If you are being prescribed anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication discuss with your GP or Consultant whether a course of Holistic Massage or Reflexology may be an appropriate complementary therapy suitable for you. It may not be possible to eradicate stress from your life but the right attitude towards it may prevent chronic adrenal dysfunction

Symptoms associated with Chronic Adrenal Stress

  • Increased sensitivity of eyes to light
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Dizziness on standing from lying/sitting
  • Faintness on prolonged standing
  • Recurring infections
  • Development of allergies and sensitivities
  • Stomach symptoms, diarrhoea
  • Chronic fatigue, depression, decreased motivation
  • Trembling, twitches, stuttering
  • Lack of concentration, confusion of thought
  • Jaw clenching and teeth-grinding
  • Insomnia, failure to feel rested after sleep
  • Low back pain, pre-menstrual symptoms
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Increased need for stimulants: coffee, cigarettes, alcohol, chocolate
  • Unexplained chronic aches and pains
  • Energy highs and lows through the course of a day