Mental health issues, including stress, anxiety and depression, are the reason for one-in-five visits to UK GP’s. But what exactly is stress, what causes it and what can we do to beat it?
Put simply, stress is the feeling of being put under too much pressure, whether it is emotional or metal. When the pressure builds up too much and you feel that you are no longer able to cope, then this can result in feelings of stress. Stress is a very individual feeling and something that can cause unbearable amounts of stress in one person may result in increased motivation in another. Stress can be caused from a myriad of reasons; common causes of stress can include work, relationships and money problems – but of course this list is in no way exhaustive.
Stress affects different people in different ways but can include (again this list is not exhaustive):
- Feeling anxious
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension or pain
But what actually causes these symptoms?
When we are feeling stressed our body releases surges of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. These are the body’s way of helping us to deal with stressful situations – they elicit the classic ‘fight or flight’ response. Once the feeling of stress has passed then the hormone levels should return to normal, however if the pressure does not diminish then the hormone levels will remain elevated, leading to the some of the symptoms of stress as listed above.
So what can you do about stress?
Although stress itself is not an illness, if left unmanaged then it cause severe illnesses, so it is important to recognise your personal symptoms of stress early and then put procedures into place to manage it. It may be that you can keep a diary to identify some of the triggers of your stress and then find out ways to avoid these. But in many cases avoiding stress all together may not be practical, in which cases looking at ways to manage your stress levels can be very effective.
One of the most effective means to managing stress is through relaxation techniques. These can include mindfulness, exercise or simply learning to calm and soothe yourself. A good way to encourage your body to feel calm is through the use of lavender essential oil. Lavender oil has been scientifically proven to have a calming effect on your central nervous system which can significantly reduce stress levels.
You can use lavender essential oil to beat stress in a number of ways, such as:
- Blending lavender oil into a carrier oil and using it for a calming massage
- Promoting a great night’s sleep by using our Lavender Sleep Pillow, or sprinkling a couple of drops of lavender oil onto your pillow or into a warm bath before bed
- Adding a few drops of lavender oil into an oil burner or vaporiser to diffuse the soothing scent throughout your home
- Keeping a lavender oil infused handkerchief with you throughout the day to inhale the scent at times of stress