Stress Awareness

Bowen for Mental Health

April is Stress Awareness Month –

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where deadlines are too close, the to do list is never ending and getting longer and problems are becoming larger?

According to the Mental Health Foundation in 2021 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. 

What is Stress

Stress is primarily a physical response. When stressed, the body thinks it is under attack and switches to ‘fight or flight’ mode. This releases a complex mix of hormones and chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine to prepare the body for physical action. This in turn causes a number of reactions, from blood being diverted to muscles which shuts down unnecessary bodily functions such as digestion.

 

Some stress is good we need it to survive. Nowadays the ‘fight or flight’ mode can still help us survive dangerous situations, such as reacting swiftly to a person running in front of our car by slamming on the brakes. Unhealthy stress however is like a bridge is carrying too much weight, it will eventually collapse. With a bridge we generally see the warning signs before this happens, as the bridge would bow, buckle and creak. Although there are often early warning signs for humans, far too frequently we ignore them and try to carry on.

When our body goes into a state of stress in inappropriate situations, the blood flow is goes only to the most important muscles needed to fight or flee,. This means that brain function is minimised which can lead to an inability to ‘think straight’. This is a state that is a great hindrance to us in both our work and home lives. If we stay in a state of stress for long periods, it can be detrimental to our health. 

Some common signs of Stress are:

  • Pounding heart or chest pain.
  • Fatigue.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Tightness/dryness or feeling there’s a lump in your throat.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Depression.
  • Increased use of smoking/alcohol.
  • A change in eating habits.
  • Lack of sex drive.
  • Insomnia.
  • Mood swings.
  • Anxiety.
  • Headaches.
  • Crying.
  • Withdrawing and isolating oneself.
  • Changes in close relationships.

Some serious effects of that bridge collapsing are:

  • Mental and Emotional Breakdown.
  • Taking one’s own life.
  • Serious health issues including:Cardiovascular disease:
  • The heart is the first organ in the body to experience stress and heart and circulatory diseases cause a quarter of all deaths in the UK. That's more than 160,000 deaths each year – an average of 460 deaths each day or one every three minutes in the UK.
  • There are around 7.6 million people living with a heart or circulatory disease in the UK: 4 million men and 3.6 million women.
bowen treatment for anxiety

How to avoid Stress.

  • Eat for wellbeing.
  • Get a good night sleep – for tips on this visit my blog on insomnia.
  • Exercise.
  • Learn to say no.
  • Improve your time management.
  • Turn the tech off.
  • Have a relaxing therapy.
  • Stop/reduce smoking and drinking.
  • Set realistic goals and expectations.

How Does Bowen Therapy help Stress?

Bowen Therapy works with the body’s nerve receptors to calm down the nervous system. This prompts the body to move from the fight/flight freeze mode to the parasympathetic mode. Our fascia holds onto trauma throughout a person’s lifetime.  Bowen Therapy helps to release these emotions and most people experience a feeling of relaxation and well-being at the end of a treatment.

How stress differs between men and women.

Stress tends to manifest differently in men and women for many reasons. These include differences in biological factors, immunity, sex hormones, and fight or flight responses. Because of these differences, research indicates that in general:

  • The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (stress response system) and the sympathetic nervous system have a greater response in men vs. women when exposed to the same stressor. This puts men more at risk for experiencing an increase in aggression, cardiovascular disease, and decreased immune functioning.
  • Stress tends to activate different areas of the brain in men and women. When exposed to the same stressors, men experience a stronger stress response than women, and have a higher amount of cortisol measured in their saliva.
  • Because of differences in brain responses men may be more likely to react with the fight-or-flight response under stress compared to women. Women show more of a pattern of tend and-befriend. This increases men's susceptibility to high levels of stress during certain situations when compared to women.
  • Chronic pain may impact men differently because of the relationship between testosterone, stress, and pain. Testosterone mitigates feelings of pain. But stress can decrease levels of testosterone and increase cortisol, thus intensifying feelings of pain.

Each individual's unique culture, religious beliefs, upbringing, early experiences of childhood trauma (if applicable), and genetic factors can all play a role in how stress is processed in men and women.

Men have a lower incidence of reported mental health disorders when compared to women. However, they are also less likely to seek support from their doctor or a mental health provider. Men are also more likely to die by suicide than women.