Stress is what you feel when the pressure you are under exceeds your ability to cope.  We all react differently to stress depending on our personality and how we respond to pressure.

Our automatic stress response to unexpected events is known as our ‘fight or flight’ response.

When we perceive something is a threat, then our body releases hormones such as adrenalin. These hormones increase our heart rate and blood pressure so that more oxygen and glucose can get to our muscles. We also breathe faster and sweat more to cool these muscles down. All of these reactions prepare us to take action against a possible threat.

While some stress can be positive – helping us to prepare for challenges, too much stress over prolonged periods can cause physical and emotional upset to the body. Indeed, long-term stress can have a negative effect on how we cope with situations and may damage our health.

There are many ways of treating stress, they include:  exercise, adopting a healthy lifestyle, knowing your limits and stress management activities such as mindfulness.


Love Your Gut supporter – Dr Maxton Pitcher, a Consultant Gastroenterologist at St Mark’s Hospital, Harrow indicates that stress can also affect our digestive health:

Maxton Pitcher

“In stressful situations (exams, job interviews, driving tests etc), adrenalin pumps around the body and speeds up everything inside it. And this includes the rate at which food is passing through it. When this happens it can mean that diarrhoea can occur or you could experience looser and more frequent bowel movements. Making time to relax can help you minimise the effects of stress and putting in simple leisure pursuits, such as going for a walk or swim, into your weekly schedule will help you achieve this. Or you may want to try something more luxurious like a body or head massage or aromatherapy.”


If you are worried about how stress is affecting you, why not take the opportunity today – National Stress Awareness Day – to investigate ways of reducing the amount of stress you are under and improve your health.


Information Sources

For further information about Getting Gut Healthy and de stressing see:

National Stress Awareness Day 2015

Stress Management Society

NHS Choices Fact Sheets ( ) including:

Struggling with stress? Low Moods and depression, Ten stress busters and Relaxation tips to relieve stress.