WHAT HAPPENS WHEN...
...you work too hard?
1 CALM YOURSELF
When your body senses a threat – whether that’s a shadowy figure or a looming deadline – it floods your brain with adrenaline and cortisol, readying you for fight or flight. The best remedy? Put this hormonal surge to its intended use: a 20-minute run will utilise excess adrenaline and ease muscle tension.
2 CRUNCH TIME
Stress triggers the hunger-blocking hormone CRH. But over time, elevated cortisol levels can have the opposite effect. ‘People eat to reduce anxiety,’ says Frank Bond, psychologist and professor at Goldsmiths University of London. So snack smart with almonds, which are packed with stress-busting magnesium.
3 HEAD CASE
Brain fog descends as stress disengages the prefrontal cortex, making it harder to think rationally. If meditation doesn’t come easily, distract your brain. ‘You can train your attention like a muscle,’ says Bond. ‘Simply focusing on song lyrics is a powerful way to take your mind off things.’ Don’t worry, be happy.
4 PRESSURE DROP
If the words ‘presentation to the board’ make your chest tighten, that’s adrenaline raising your blood pressure to get you ready for a tussle. Reset the balance. ‘Focus on breathing for a minute or so every two hours,’ suggests Professor Bond, who has helped Team GB athletes relax before events. You’ll be golden.
5 BRAIN TRAINING
In evolutionary terms, an out-of-hours call from your boss is the 2017 equivalent of a sabre-toothed tiger, and the threat response will continue until your brain feels the danger has passed. But mindfulness techniques can improve your reaction to tense situations in just eight weeks*. You’ll find plenty at womenshealthmag.co.uk.