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Stress can be described as an imbalance between a persons demands and their ability to cope with those demands. The personal demands that cause this stress are ultimately imposed by the individual, therefore stress, to a large extent can be indirectly self imposed.

The rigours of life can be stressful and there are times when most of us feel stressed. Stress is becoming a major cause of illness and unhappiness within the UK whether these pressures come from the self, our peers or feeling unable to cope with the perceived demands put upon us. It is clear that Stress is taking its toll as surveys have shown that stress is a major contributory factor in up to 90% of all illnesses and 5 million people in the UK would describe themselves as being very or extremely stressed.

Some common triggers of stress can include lack of interest at work, time pressures, excessive working hours, relationship difficulties, insecurity of the future and money concerns. This can result in muscle tension, increases in heart rate, cold hands and feet as blood is diverted elsewhere and increases in breathing. All of this can be very mentally tiring which in turn can increase stress levels even more.

Prolonged stress can have long term physical damage as the body’s response to stress creates the fight or flight syndrome. This is where your body concentrates on its perceived emergency situation and prepares itself for battle or to run by secreting adrenaline into the blood stream, halting the digestive system, hindering growth and slowing down the immune system. This can have many effects including causing an increase in general illness levels as the immune system is frequently slowed and stomach ulcers as the digestive system is impeded to protect the stomach lining.

As a counsellor and hypnotherapist, I see a number of people who are suffering with stress or stress related symptoms. I find it’s very important to begin to understand the individual and how they operate – this is key to ensure that any changes in lifestyle are the right changes and can have positive effects. Often, making small changes can be the first steps to larger and long lasting change. Self awareness also plays a significant role to be aware of how the stress became problematic to ensure we are aware of any future build ups to allow us to avoid sliding down a slippery slope.

Being aware that you may be stressed can be the first step to Managing stress. Stress symptoms include mental, social, and physical manifestations. These include exhaustion, loss of appetite, headaches, emotional outbursts (anger/crying), sleeplessness and oversleeping. Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or other compulsive behaviours are often indications. Feelings of alarm, frustration, or apathy may accompany stress.

Tips to help Manage Stress

There are many ways to combat stress and these include:

• Exercise regularly as your body can fight stress better when it is fit. Exercise also produces endorphins which can raise mood and gives general feelings of wellbeing.
• Get enough rest and Sleep.
• Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
• Learn and practice relaxation techniques – email me for a free relaxation guide.
• Accept that there are events that you cannot control.
• Keep a positive attitude.
• Be assertive instead of aggressive. Assert your feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry, defensive, or passive.
• Talk to others – seek out social support from friends, colleagues and family.
• Don’t rely on artificial means such as alcohol or drugs to reduce stress.
• Learn to manage your time more effectively.
• Set realistic goals – try not to overload yourself or add unnecessary pressure.
• Get yourself out of the situation, whether this be leaving or taking a break.
• Prioritise and try not to worry about the small things.
• Look around – See if there really is something you can change or control in the situation.
• Do something for others as this will allow you to be less conscious of yourself and your own concerns.
• Work off stress with physical activity such as gardening, housework or exercise.
• Be kind to yourself.
• Seek help if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

How and why you experience stress is personal to you. Reducing stress doesn’t mean reducing activity or not achieving your goals but rather being more effective, spending your time wisely and utilising your inner resources.

For more information on how counselling can help you deal with stress please visit http://www.personalempowerment.co.uk

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Aromas play a huge part in our lives. When you wake up, perhaps you are greeted by the sweet smell of cinnamon rolls baking on the stove. As you travel to work in the morning, maybe you smell oil outside the car. With so many smells and aromas around us, is it any wonder today that some smells are more inviting than others?

When it comes to scents, as a general rule we don’t usually link aromatherapy to stress relief. But the truth is that it can have huge benefits for your overall health and well-being.

Aromatherapy can be beneficial for anyone. Not only does it produce pleasing smells, but it also does wonders to help you relax. After a long day, you may feel stressed and uptight.

As a result, your muscles tense up; you can feel your entire body fill with stress, which can cause your blood pressure to rise. This is the body’s natural reaction to stress. Stress caused by a long day or a life-changing event can pour into every aspect of your life.

Because of this you feel tired, overwhelmed. This is an all too familiar scenario for most people, regardless of where you live.

Our lives are evolving constantly. We go to work, and are faced with unending responsibilities and tight deadlines. And of course, there is often no relief for the feelings of stress that course through your body or for the concerns that flood your mind.

Therefore, if you’re looking for a reason to lose yourself and reduce stress simultaneously, consider a few simple techniques that involve aromatherapy.

Pour yourself a bubble bath. This is one gift you can give yourself to help lift your stress and give you quiet time for yourself. Pick up some bubble bath solution at the shop. Some popular scents include vanilla or strawberry. Once you pour your bath, immerse yourself in the water. In addition to helping you relax, the warm water will permeate into your pores and surround you in a warm and comforting sensation.

If it helps, light some scented candles, and dim or turn off the lights. Sit in the glow of candles, as the aromas float to your nostrils.

As a stress management technique, aromatherapy is incredibly effective in helping you relax.

Massage oils are also effective in helping you relax. Applying scented massage oils gives you the opportunity to enjoy a comforting smell. The gentle stimulation of a massage also helps to melt away feelings of stress.

Many smells in today’s world are actually a cause of stress, and may actually contribute to making you tense. Such smells include the smell of tar and smoke, which are usually a source of worry and anticipation.

In today’s busy lifestyle, it may seem difficult and sometimes impossible to find time for yourself. The kids need dinner; the laundry needs to be done; the list goes on and on. Even if you are overwhelmed with responsibilities, lighting a scented candle in the living room, or baking some cookies will give the house a warm, inviting feeling. This may help relax your body and eventually lift your stress.

Another helpful aromatherapy technique that can help alleviate stress is to visit a food market where fresh food is sold. You don’t have to buy anything, but by visiting this type of store, you can immerse yourself in the delectable smells of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as the smell of freshly baked goods.

If you are more discerning in your taste, and prefer only sweet smells, forgo the fresh produce market and opt for a local bakery. The scents in markets and bakeries are often reminiscent of old memories, which may actually bring you comfort and help you relax.

Perhaps your grandmother used to bake lemon meringue pie in her kitchen when you were young. If you smell lemon meringue in the bakery, you may be overcome with feelings of warmth and comfort. And you may begin to think of your grandmother.

If you find yourself in this type of situation, enjoy the experience and watch your stress begin to dissipate. Another great thing is that many foods are associated with warmth and happiness. Surrounding yourself with the smells of these foods can recreate these happy feelings and as a result can help you relax.

Aromatherapy can also help boost your mood. Smells have different effects. Some are sensual. Vanilla and chocolate, for example, are both aphrodisiacs. Studies have shown that chocolate is effective in heightening male arousal, while vanilla is generally preferred by females.

These smells, of course, can lead to feelings of pleasure and desire, which have a relaxing effect. They can even produce feelings of euphoria and elation, and are great stress relievers, as they serve two purposes.

First of all, they are pleasing to the nose, but they may aid in sexual desire. The neurotransmitter, dopamine, plays a huge role in sex, as does serotonin. Serotonin is critical to attraction, and actually helps reduce stress and aids in stress management.

So light some candles, and surround yourself with sweet scents. It’s nice to know that stress relief could be only as far away as your pantry or spice rack!

David has put together a complimentary eBook on “How to Combat Stress and Get On With Your Life” that will help you deal with and manage stress in your life. To download it instantly visit http://www.endingstress.com

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