Posted on July 30, 2014
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Stress affects billions, all the way from the office to SeaWorld. According to PETA, orcas in captivity gnaw at iron bars and concrete walls to combat anxiety. And the Telegraph tells us that stress has caused five million people to take days off work.
You may wonder why we’re talking about the stress levels of orcas. Two reasons. 1. A love for sea animals and 2. It’s National Stress Awareness Day, and we love a good awareness-raising cause – especially on a topic that affects so many of us, and some of us more than others: women report higher levels of stress than men, and midlife stress may raise women’s risk of dementia.
Stress can also lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, chest pain, an irregular heartbeat, skin problems, and hair loss. It can also cause or contribute to accidents, headaches, insomnia, bowel disorders, digestive problems, cancer, and arthritis – among others. Following a highly stressful change in circumstances, there’s even a condition called ‘Broken Heart Syndrome’ – a temporary heart condition that feels like a heart attack, brought on by the organ’s reaction to a spike in stress hormones.
So what exactly is stress? It’s caused by the Flight or Fight response, which triggers reactions associated with a sudden movement, including accelerated heart rate, dilation of the pupils, relaxation of the bladder, shaking and loss of peripheral vision.
Flight or Fight is a one-off response to a certain situation, but stress is what happens when people or animals are continually in this state, resulting in an imbalance of body chemicals.
Enough of the bad stuff. What about the good? How can we manage stress?
There are plenty of ways: reducing caffeine and alcohol intake, trying to ensure 7-8 hours of sleep a night, exercising and eating regular and balanced meals. But much of what you can do is mental: relaxation techniques such as yoga, tai chi, deep breathing and deep muscle relaxation are highly recommended.
If you want to get something off your chest, take some long deep breaths and then tweet us at @whatiseeproject.
Image source - Flickr: Dave Rosenblum