Stress is something that affects everybody.
A little bit of stress can actually be good for you. It can keep you focused, alert, and it can temporarily improve your memory and performance.
On the flip side, chronic stress leads to increased levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which is produced by our adrenal glands when our bodies go into ‘fight or flight’ mode.
Cortisol occurs naturally first thing in the morning when we wake up, and when we exercise. It plays an important role in regulating our blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and, in small doses, it can even help strengthen our heart muscles. But if it’s constantly being pumped around our system, it puts us into a constant state of high stress.
Too much cortisol can eventually lead to:
- High blood sugar levels
- A weaker immune system
- Weight gain
- Irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive problems
- Heart disease
So, as you can see, chronic stress has significant and often dangerous implications for our long-term health – which means we need to find ways to combat its effects.
Remedies for managing stress
It’s not always possible to remove stress triggers completely. But there are many things we can do to lessen the impact of stress on our minds and bodies.
Over the next few months, each member of the OrthoSole team will be testing one of the five popular stress-busting methods listed below. They’ll be reporting back with their findings in April to coincide with Stress Awareness Month.
It’s easier said than done, especially if you’re feeling drained and fatigued after a stressful day – but exercising can help to lower your cortisol levels and simultaneously encourage the release of endorphins into your system. Endorphins are nature’s mood improvers; it’s thanks to them that we often feel so much better after we’ve been active.
Ronnie Irani, our CEO, will be upping his exercise routine (equipped with a pair of our shock-absorbing orthotic insoles, of course). He’ll be checking in with us in a few months’ time to let us know how his change in routine has helped him manage the symptoms of stress.
Many of us rely on our morning coffee to give us the burst of energy we need to face the day – but if we’re prone to stress, it could be doing us more harm than good.
Studies have shown that caffeine can:
- Boost cortisol levels
- Increase adrenaline, leading to temporary alertness but problems winding down later in the day
- Slow down the absorption of adenosine, which is responsible for calming the body
- Affect the quality of your restorative sleep
Lorraine, Chief Operating Officer at OrthoSole, will be reducing her caffeine intake to see if this alone has a positive effect on her mood, sleep and energy levels.
Yoga has soared in popularity in recent years. This immersive mind-body practice combines stretching, controlled breathing and meditation, and offers a series of physical, psychological and emotional benefits. Yoga is known to:
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Encourage better sleep
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce cortisol levels
- Improve strength and flexibility
- Increase inner wellbeing
Our Business Support Administrator, Simone, will be exploring how mindfulness can reduce our stress levels.
Listening to soothing music
Mike, our Head of Sales, will be popping on various types of calming music throughout the day to see if doing so increases concentration and relieves stress.
There’s evidence to suggest that listening to calming music – along with music that incorporates the sounds of nature – for just 10 to 15 minutes a day can:
- Improve concentration
- Improve brain function
- Lower our blood pressure and heart rate
- Increase serotonin and endorphin production
- Reduce the perception of pain
Essential oils and candles
Alison, OrthoSole’s Customer Service Support Manager, will be trying out a range of aromatic oils using a popular (and affordable) oil diffuser. Certain oils – particularly lavender and peppermint – are known for their relaxing effects, while others, like lemon, pine and spearmint, are known for their energising properties. She will be switching between these products at home to see which of them have the most significant impact on her moods, concentration levels and sleep patterns.
Head back to the OrthoSole blog in April to see the results of our team’s stress-busting tests!