STRESS. It’s something that affects us all at some point during our lives but over the past few years it’s pretty safe to say that we’ve all become far more familiar with the effects of it. 

In general, most of us claim to want less stress in our lives but could we actually be addicted to the way it makes us feel? 

I spent the first decade of my working life dedicated to working in the fashion industry and I had a very stressful job which I thrived in….until I didn’t. I remember so clearly the rush I’d get from running around London like a maniac in my heels to get from meeting to endless meeting, my inbox overspilling with deadlines and constantly feeling that intense buzz of excitement & urgency with just a sprinkling of dread! 

It wasn’t until I was suddenly signed off work with Malignant Hypertension that I started to understand how damaging my addiction to stress really was. When I think back to it now I realise I was also addicted to the lifestyle, to the drama and to the glamour that I associated with always being busy, with glorifying my own exhaustion, like being stressed and overwhelmed meant I was successful.

We live in a society that continues to glorify wearing exhaustion like a badge of honor and it certainly took a lot of Yoga and a complete lifestyle overhaul for me to change my relationship with stress. 

When we’re stressed our bodies produce 3 main stress hormones; Adrenaline, Norepinephrine & Cortisol. Adrenaline gives us a serious surge of energy, helping us to flee from whatever threat we’re being presented with. Cortisol is needed for the fight or flight response and Norepinephrine’s main role is to keep us aroused whilst also helping to move blood to our muscles so we’re ready to either fight or run. 

When we’re in a state of stress we generally become more aware, more alert and hyper focused. In our busy, over-stimulated world that can sometimes be pretty appealing and helpful when we need to think on our feet and meet a looming deadline. It’s not hard to see how easy it might be to become addicted to this feeling but too much stress can have a seriously adverse effect on our bodies and our minds. 

We often wrongly think that stress only impacts us mentally but it can have negative effect on our physical health too impacting our sleep, sex drive, energy levels, digestive system and mood. Chronic stress affects nearly every system in the body, disrupting the digestive system, suppressing the immune system, reproductive system & speeds up the aging process⁣! 

According to The Mental Health Foundation, in the largest known study of stress levels in the UK conducted in 2018, 74% of people have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope. This was pre-pandemic and we know that stress levels & mental ill health are now at a point of crisis. 

Some of the telltale signs that you might want to rethink your relationship with stress…

  • You over book yourself and have limited down time  
  • You work long hours and/or taking work home with you 
  • You find it difficult to say no and put boundaries in place 
  • You’re often overconnected to your devices and finding it difficult to take time away from your phone and/or screens 
  • You burn the candle at both ends
  • Your emotions are up and down & sometimes unpredictable 
  • You have trouble sleeping or staying asleep 

So, how can you start to stress less and enjoy your life more?

  1. Start small and begin by making time for some mindful movement. Yoga is proven to help reduce the effects of stress and often becomes a healthy replacement (spoken from a stress – yoga convert!) If you’re an adrenaline junky then try Power Yoga or something dynamic to get your heart pumping. 
  2. Be mindful of how much time you’re spending at work and put some boundaries in place to help create more of a work/life balance. Saying No can be liberating, empowering and still provide that rush of endorphins. 
  3. Reconnect with the things that bring you joy. Making time for habits that we actually enjoy can quickly remind us of the ways to better spend our time – we become less busy and more present.
  4. Dedicate one evening a week to non negotiable downtime – run a bath, read a book, go for a walk, cook, do yoga – whatever helps you to unwind but put it in your calendar and make it part of your weekly routine. 
  5. Try some quiet practices. If you find it hard to slow down and you’re addicted to being busy then guided practices like meditation, breathwork or mindfulness can help you to switch off and soothe your nervous system (it’s probably desperate for a break!)  

About Liz Joy Hardie

Liz Joy Hardie is Yoga Teacher, Holistic Wellbeing Coach and Head of Vibes at MoreYoga, co-running our MoreMind Project with Stephanie Minchin, coordinating events, content and workshops focused on better supporting our communities mental and physical wellbeing. After starting her career in the fast-paced world of luxury fashion Liz came to Yoga after being diagnosed with Malignant Hypertension and Generalized Anxiety and left with the goal of helping others to lead healthier lives holistically. Liz went on to spent a year working at the Safe Childhoods Foundation in Indonesia, an NGO committed to combatting organized crimes against children, she began to understand the true benefits of Yoga, Meditation and Psychology as therapeutic tools and describes this as a time of total transformation.

Now back in London, Liz is passionate about helping people achieve a healthier, happier lifestyle through her work. She loves bringing people together, encouraging authentic connection and is happiest when facilitating retreats, workshops and events based around Yoga, Positive Psychology and Holistic Wellbeing.

Liz teaches Hatha, Vinyasa, Yin & Restorative Yoga, specialising in teaching Yoga, Mindfulness & Meditation to improve stress & anxiety. She combines this with her work as a Holistic Wellbeing Coach & is dedicated to spreading Joy through her work.

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