Too Stressed

If anyone doubts the power of the mind, you only need to recall the last time you felt really stressed.

Matters of the mind can trigger off headaches, stomach upsets, diarrhea, heart palpitations and fatigue. It can depress your immune system to the point where you do become quite ill.

It's amazing that something intangible like a thought can wreak such physical havoc, but it does.

Stress causes the release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline kicks our body into fight mode while cortisol give us stamina when we decide to run or take flight.

Our body goes into battle mode, rallies all the available blood and pumps it where it's needed most. If the stress continues, however, all of our organs will shout a protest.

Most animals have a 'fight or flight' instinct, and this kept our hairier ancestors alive in the jungle.

This instinct is still in our genes as we battle for survival in our urban jungle. Rather than fight wild bison and enemy tribes, we battle with road rage, family and relationship issues and the loan repayments.

Stress can be put to good use. A lot of people need stress to give them a competitive edge. But if it dominates your life, that's when adjustments are in order.

A recent study from University of California at Los Angeles found that women cope with stress differently. Researcher Shelley Taylor found men fight or flee a stressful situation, whereas women turn to others for help.

The reason for this, say the scientists, is a hormone called oxytocin, which stimulates milk ejection, birth contractions, and makes an appearance during orgasm in men and women. It's also been called a love hormone that helps humans bond.

Oxytocin also promotes a feeling of calm and well-being when we are a bit stressed. Women produce more oxytocin than men, and this may explain why men are more aggressive and suffer more stress-related diseases like high blood pressure and alcoholism.

Despite all that, stress can feel pretty darn bad and there are times when that roundabout in your head just keeps spinning faster and we can't stop it.

Firstly, don't be afraid to seek help. It's nothing to be ashamed of, and getting assistance from a counselor is a brave step towards stopping the roundabout.

If you have enough on your plate and can't go to the party or look after someone's house when they go away, just say NO!

Don't let other people's problems become yours. Be caring towards them without being emotionally involved. And don't buy into other people's pettiness and emotional politicking. You will never win, but neither will they. You have better things to do than try to win pointless battles.

Take some time out for you! Go for a walk along a beach or a park and just chill out. Or set aside half an hour to meditate.

Stay healthy. Don't let your diet suffer. That's the last thing your body needs.

Ask yourself, what's the worst thing that can possibly happen? Believe me, this can work wonders.

And if your boss is getting you down, speak up! If your workload is too much, then it might be time to think about a career change. This is not admitting defeat at all. This is you wanting to live life to the fullest, and on your terms!