Do Pilates, Live More – Part One
The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) defines stress as “the adverse reaction people have to undue pressure or other demands placed on them.” The HSE has commissioned research into workplace stress levels across the UK and has come up with the following staggering statistics:
1. Approximately 500,000 people in the UK experience work-related stress at a level they believe is making them sick.
2. Five million people in the UK feel “very” or “extremely” stressed at work.
3. About 12.8 million working days per year were lost due to stress and stress-related illnesses in 2004/5. (Probably even higher in the US.)
And this is just the tip of the iceberg… this is just work related stress. Add to that the stress of family life (need I say more?), the stress of earning enough money to keep the wolf out the door and enjoy a leisurely lifestyle, the stress of trying to be who and what everyone wants us to be…and so on.
Some level of stress is essential to our functioning… we just wouldn’t be motivated to DO anything without it. When it’s something we want to do, we call it exciting. When it’s something we’d rather not do, we call it stressful! The effect on our body and mind is actually the same, believe it or not. Adrenaline surges through our system, heart rate and blood pressure rise, our pupils dilate, our muscles brace for action… And then Daniel Craig is back in his clothes!!
But you get my drift… our bodies are designed by mother nature to go into “fight or flight” mode, since that’s what kept us alive millions of years ago when that noise in the bushes could have meant Bambi or Godzilla was after us…
So life without any stress would be indescribably boring. But our lives today have stresses that last for long periods of time, stresses that cannot be dealt with by running away or hitting something with a club… even though it may seem tempting when your boss/daughter/mother-in-law is bothering you! And stress over a long period of time is what affects us. Your body is not designed to deal with these hormones staying in the system; the idea was that once Man had escaped from the predator, the hormones subsided. Work well done. So the man fell asleep, ate said predator, or… You get the idea! (This is where Daniel Craig reappears…)
Long-term exposure to stress hormones can cause problems within us. Big problems. High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and some forms of cancer have been linked to sustained high levels of stress for years. Stress is one of the leading causes of premature death in the developed world. Sobering thought, isn’t it? Well, now that you’ve read all of this and you’re stressed about your stress levels, what can you do about it?
You will have to read the next installment to find ideas to end stress! (Hint: this could involve some pilates). Until next time…
All the best,