Living a normal, everyday life can contain many stressors: getting the kids out on time, arriving at work on time, being overworked and underpaid, lack of time, and bombardment with advertising messages about what to do next is sometimes enough to get us stressed out. Add to this some extra stress at work, the usual office politics, one more family crisis, it all adds up! We so need a holiday to recover, which are by the way, always too short.
Yes, sometimes we bounce back from this amount of pressure, sometimes we don’t. And when we don’t, we add new stress on top of old stress and now stress has turned into a default setting. We operate with a base level of stress and cannot relax, nor remember when we last fully relaxed. Being chronically stressed is a serious modern condition. Stress is in fact, number ONE killer in the UK, the biggest reason for work absenteeism, and the main cause of un-wellness or unhappiness.
Then there is post-traumatic stress, which follows a period of intense pressure that human beings are not designed to experience. It is the result of bad parenting, extreme bullying, work-place overload, and even shock. It can also occur when being exposed to stressful events for a prolonged period of time.
Recovery from lifestyle related stress is naturally easier than having to deal with chronic stress. Chronic stress has many knock on effects such as heart health and lifestyle damage such as alcohol, drugs and bad food & lifestyle choices, which in turn, lead to further health problems. It is therefore important to pro-actively address life-style related stresses to prevent chronic stress and to proactively build resilience. Prolonged chronic stress can lead to a complete physical and mental breakdown, which is life changing. Recovery is slow but hopeful and life will never be the same.
Symptoms of stress vary from person to person. They can range from: feeling busy and without any spare time – loss of goals/ambition – loss of joy/feeling of blandness – loss of wholeness– loss of sleep – loss of social connections – loss of human spirit – loss of health and resilience – loss of energy and bounce – loss of concentration – loss of hope – loss of purpose – loss of confidence – headaches – upset stomach, including diarrhoea, constipation and nausea – aches, pains, and tense muscles – chest pain and rapid heartbeat – feeling a stone or a knot in the stomach at all times – insomnia – frequent colds and infections – loss of sexual desire and/or ability – frustration and unhappiness – irritability and short fuse – increase in heart rate – shortness of breath – increase in white blood cells – anxiety – depression.
The symptoms of stress can be grouped into those affecting body, mind, emotions and spirit/energy. The physical symptoms are increase in heart rate, shortness of breath, tension in the shoulders for example. The mental symptoms are anxiety, sleeplessness, loss of concentration. Emotional symptoms are depression, feeling down. Symptoms of energy are loss of zest for life, loss of ability to trust in oneself, loss of social connection. Eastern Medicine goes by energy channels, stipulating that every human being has a human energy field, which is also subject to breakdown.
As per the Eastern Health Care System, Ayurveda, symptoms can be further grouped into hyper (vata), hypo (kapha) and aggressive (pitta). Symptoms of hyper (vata) are great levels of anxiety, loss of concentration, shortness of breath and hyperactivity. Hypo (kapha) symptoms are related to dullness, depression and disconnection. Symptoms of aggression (pitta) are a low threshold of patience, and a high level of anger, elevated assertiveness, frustration and outbursts. An ayurvedic mind body-type analysis test can pro-actively reveal ones most likely stress response and a stress type specific lifestyle can help with treatment and alleviate the symptoms.
Ayurveda can balance the by stress aggravated doshas (humours), which are vata, pitta or kapha. My Ayurveda inspired programme “live yourself happy in 40 days” @happyin40days is aimed at balancing the three humours (doshas), creating calm and good energy by bringing equilibrium back to the mind-body relationship.
Herbal remedies support this approach and ayurvedic treatments include nourishing and medicated oils. Resilience-boosting dietary changes are an important aspect of a treatment approach. Stress as well as bad nutrition, including toxins present in food can causes oxidation in the body. Oxidation gives raise to premature aging, memory loss and/or brain fog, muscle and/or joint pain, wrinkles and grey hair, decreased eye sight, headaches and sensitivity to noise, susceptibility to infections, i.e. lowers immunity. A very good nutritional strategy is very important when dealing with stress. Studies have shown that organic food contains more anti-oxidants and less toxins than non-organic food and I will always recommend organic fruit and vegetables to accompany any type of healing journey.
When suffering from temporary stress, chronic stress or post-traumatic stress, the mind-body-spirit connection has been broken. The body does one thing, the mind another and the spirit/emotions are yet somewhere else. The person is not working in his/her wholesome unity anymore by living in the moment fully with all s/he is. The breath has become shallow and mostly in-effective as a life-force and breathing has to be re-learned. Yoga and its breathing exercises called Prana-Yama, aim to restore the mind-body-spirit connection. These exercises not only restore the breath to its full potential of delivering oxygen to all body cells, they also detoxify energy channels, and improve lung capacity and mental state, thereby creating resilience to infections.
To re-introduce an experience of deeper calm, and create a memory and anchor for a “towards to” vision, energy and meditation work are key. It’s the accumulation of these memories of calm that will provide the dotted line along the journey to resilience and recovery.
Sonja Breuer (MSc. Ayur. med) has studied the complementary medicine of Ayurveda in the UK and worked at several hospitals all over India. She is qualified to teach Hatha, Kundalini Yoga as well as Yoga for children (DBS available). She is a qualified life-coach and energy practitioner with over 9 years experience.
Sonja provides holistic support when dealing with three types of stresses: everyday stress, chronic stress and post-traumatic stress. She uses tools such as Yoga, Ayurveda, Herbal Remedies, Organic Nutrition, Coaching and Energy Healing. She practices in London-Pinner at a complementary healthcare clinic called Spatium, 3 Barter’s Walk, Pinner, Middx. HA5 5LU, 020 8868 7937 and travels to schools and workplaces with her work.
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