Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Article called "Relax? Don't do it" by Catherine Quin published in the Guardian Office Hours supplement on 15 October 2007

The debate about whether some amount of stress is good for you. Research from the universities of Kentucky and British Columbia has shown that moderate amounts of stress can strengthen the immune system, thought to relate to the primeval fight or flight response to protect primeval humans from injury sustained in a stressful encounter. However, any more than controlled bursts of stress have a negative impact.

Stress can be "acute," which is bouts interspersed with periods of calm. However, "chronic" stress means you don't get the periods of calm. For example, you can't switch off when you get home from work or lie awake at night worrying.

Stress can cause over stimulation of the adrenal gland which interferes with cortical levels, which in turn disrupts waking and sleep patterns. The result can be migraines, hypertension, lowered immunity and depression.

The consequences of stress are closely related to the individuals perception. Even top performs get stressed, but they have identified strategies to control the symptoms and harness the stress to help them perform better. To do this you need to first recognise you have a choice in how you respond to stress. You then need to be able to recognise the effects stress has on you and then learn how to control these effects.

Andy Brazier

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