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Managing Stress - World Wellbeing Week 2023

20th, Jun 2023

Dr Simon Hawe, NHS and Private GP holds clinics at our newer location within the Mid-Ulster Clinic in Magherafelt. This week he talks to us stress, what it is and how we can manage it as part of World Wellbeing Week 2023.

What is stress?

Well, most importantly all stress is not bad. We need some stress to cause the physiological responses required to optimise our performance. That is why world records are often beaten on the big stage at the Olympics rather than at lower key events. Stress causes physiological changes in the body by causing the release of hormones like cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine. In the presence of these hormones our body becomes “switched on” and often optimised in this “fight or flight” mode.

This response can be really helpful to a point - our exam performance is improved and our concentration is better with a deadline looming and our physical attributes are optimised when competing in sport. However, this is only true to a point. Beyond that point with excess stress or prolonged exposure to stress our physical and mental performance starts to suffer. That tipping point or threshold is different for everyone and often sneaks up unnoticed.

What are Micro and Macro stressors?

Dr Rangan Chatterjee explains it very helpfully in the podcast linked below and I would encourage you to have a listen. The theory is that each of us have a personal stress threshold. Many of us have experienced “Macro” stressors in our life which are often out of our control e.g. bereavement, abuse, trauma. These stressors bring us closer to our stress threshold beyond which we get irritable, angry and function less well. On top of these macro stressors there are also “Micro" stressors. These are the little things that maybe don’t seem significant but in combination bring us even closer to our stress threshold e.g. getting to bed an hour late, the porridge overflowing in the microwave, your phone beeping when you’re engaged in conversation with your spouse, your child losing their shoes when you’re trying to get out of the house in the morning. All of a sudden we can accumulate multiple micro stress events prior to leaving the house and then we wonder why we lose it when someone even mildly irritates us at work that morning - our stress threshold has been reached!

How can stress affect our health?

Perhaps even more significant than that, for a long time we have known that stress has a role to play in heart attacks, hypertension and stroke. When you look at the physiology of what happens in our bodies during the “fight or flight” response it is possible to see why. For example, when you’re in stress or fight or flight mode your blood pressure rises, your blood becomes more liable to clot and your blood sugar rises. These things are helpful if you’re fighting a wild animal. However if you’re always going to bed stressed, your blood is chronically more liable to clotting and your blood sugar is chronically raised it may be part of the reason why stress leaves you more susceptible to strokes, heart attacks or Type 2 diabetes.

What are you top tips for managing stress?

  • Get adequate sleep
  • Get active/exercise
  • Get out into nature
  • Don’t be a slave to your mobile phone
  • Make time to socialise with friends

Get In Touch!

Dr Simon Hawe is one of Private GP’s from Kingsbridge North West located within the Mid-Ulster Clinic in Magherafelt, one of our newer Private GP Clinic locations, and offers a full range of primary care services. To book an appointment with Dr Hawe, text BOOKGP to 66777 or contact the Mid-Ulster Clinic directly on 028 7966 8380


You can find Rangan Chatterjee on his website www.drchatterjee.com
S2 E4 - Stress with Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:  https://thefoodmedic.co.uk/the-podcast/season-2/

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