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Understanding the Impact of Stress on Your Health

Posted Tuesday 27 June 2017 11:33 by Tim Deakin in Uncategorized

Stress

When it comes to managing the impact of stress on your health, it’s all about balance

We all know that feeling of having a lot on our plate. Whether it’s a hectic week at work, organising construction work at home or even just getting the kids from A to B on time, it is human nature that at one point or another our pulses begin to race and our mind runs at 100 miles per hour as we tackle the task at hand.

A burst of energy caused by a release of adrenaline is completely normal and actually helps us to function properly. However, too much or too little of this kind of stimulation can be bad for our health. Just as constant stress can have a long-term impact on our wellbeing, so too little motivation can cause our health to deteriorate.

Let’s take a closer look at that odd balance of productive stress.

What are the effects of stress?

It’s all too easy to label mental health issues as things that are “all in our head” and easily remedied. But this is far from the truth. The feeling of stress has a direct impact on the release of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline – powerful drugs that force the body into a higher state of agitation and alertness.

Too much stress

For a short period of time, stress hormones can help us to be more productive but too much of these hormones and we risk fatigue, insomnia and adrenal burnout. Over time, it is even thought that chronic stress can damage the brain, particularly in the hippocampus – the area of the brain responsible for memory.

Research has also shown that stress can cause problems within the central nervous system, digestive system and also on a cellular level, damaging the mitochondria that act as the energy factories of the body. The result of these problems can be chronic fatigue, a lowered immune system, an inability to detoxify or metabolise food properly, increased blood pressure, muscular pain and even impotence.

No stress

While too much stress can be harmful to your health, it’s also possible to suffer from not having enough motivation in your life. Living without any stress – or shall we call it drive – can leave you feeling listless and lethargic. Adrenaline and cortisol are important hormones that can be beneficial in short bursts. Without direction and a sense of energy you may not feel stress, but the hormone imbalance can quickly lead to depression.

This depression through inactivity will not only leave you in a poor mental state (one that is difficult to escape from) but will also have a knock on effect on your physical health. Low energy results in a lack of exercise and movement. Sitting for long periods of time has been closely related to conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Ironically, the lack of exercise means that the body does not release endorphins – the feel good drug which can improve mood and energy. It is for this reason that depression is often referred to as a vicious cycle.

What factors affect your stress?

The first step to dealing with stress is to identify the causes, whether they be external factors like work, children, relationships, family, your financial situation, or internal factors such as mental health conditions like anxiety.

Stress can be caused by many different aspects of your life, like your experience dealing with past stressful situations or the support network you have around you. Your physical environment can also play a part, as studies show that those who spend more time in clinical indoor spaces are more likely to find relaxation difficult.

What is the perfect stress level?

Your perfect stress level is the level of responsibility, desire and fear which motivates you without creating anxiety and worry. The right kind of stress is the kind that makes you feel inspired to work harder. It leaves you energised, focused, engaged and alert. The right stress can benefit your health by pushing your comfort zones, encouraging you to think and move more, and helping you learn new things. This kind of stress is the ideal balance between rest, recovery, and activity — so how do you find it?

Manage energy and rest to find your perfect stress level

Everybody deals with stress differently. For some, the smallest amount of stress can feel like too much whereas others are able to deal with high levels without feeling overwhelmed. There are a few tips we can all follow however to help us reach the perfect stress level.

For energy and motivation, it’s all about getting inspired for the future. Set goals that suit you and keep track of your progress. To-do lists are a useful tool for motivating yourself to complete at least one task a day. You should also never be afraid to seek motivation in other places, whether it’s from a loved one, a professional coach or a healthcare expert.

For those times when your stress levels feel too high, meditation can help your body relax, as well as massage and getting outdoors. However, there is no replacement for nutrition and exercise. How often you move your body and the stuff you choose to put into it play a huge part in your physical and mental responses to situations.

Think of your body like a car — in order to run at its best, it needs the right fuel and should be serviced regularly to keep everything in good working order. Focusing on your exercise regime and nutrition to maintain a healthy weight and balanced lifestyle is a great way to help keep dark thoughts at bay.

Need valuable health advice that’s fast and discreet? Why not contact the team here at Express Pharmacy? You can call us on 0208 123 0703 or use our handy Live Chat tool to speak to our fully qualified pharmacy team.


Sun Awareness Week 2017: The Risks of Sun Exposure

Posted Wednesday 10 May 2017 12:15 by Tim Deakin in Uncategorized

May 8th marks the start of Sun Awareness Week 2017, so there's no better time to remind ourselves of the risks of too much sun exposure.

The arrival of May means we are firmly into spring, and summer is just around the corner. The sun is shining, it’s warmer and we’re all spending a bit more time outdoors. Some of us may even be looking forward to summer holiday somewhere hot.

Although this is great news for most of us, we need to be aware of the risks that sun exposure can have on our skin, body and our overall health. That’s why the British Association of Dermatologists is launching its fourth annual Sun Awareness Week 2017 from May 8th – 14th.

Now is the perfect time to remind ourselves of the risks of too much sun, and learn exactly how we can stay safe.

What are the risks of sun exposure?

Sunburn

This one may sound obvious, but thousands of us still manage to find ourselves getting sunburnt in sunny weather. A survey by Cancer Research UK found that a fifth of individuals go without sun protection on a warm day, and the issue is particularly prevalent with men, who worry 75% less about getting burnt than women.

Sunburn may seem like a minor issue, but it can easily turn nasty. As well as pain, itching and flaky skin, sunburn also increases your risk of major health concerns like skin cancer.

Aging and pigmentation

For many of us, having a tan is an instant confidence booster, but sun exposure can wreak havoc on the appearance of our skin. Consequences include premature aging in the form of wrinkles, tightness and even age spots, which occur most commonly on our hands and faces.

Risks to your health

The sun’s radiation creates ultraviolet light, and it’s this light which is the main cause of skin cancer. Sunburn damages the genetic material of your skin, or the DNA. If too much damage is caused, cells can react by growing out of control, leading to the formation of cancer. This more than anything is why it’s vital we don’t overexpose our skin to the sun.

What can you do to protect yourself?

Learn the difference in sun creams

We all know we should be wearing sun protection whenever we’re outside in the sunshine, but there’s a lot more to it than you might think. Sun creams come in different factors, and pale skin, children’s skin or just skin that hasn’t seen much sun recently should always opt for a particularly high factor. In general, we should all be wearing factor 15 at the very least.

Your sun cream should also have decent staying power and be waterproof. You should reapply regularly throughout your time in the sun.

Sunlight hits the skin in the form of multiple ultraviolet rays, including UVA and UVB. Think of these as UVAging (as this penetrates deeper into the skin and causes signs of aging) and UVBurning (as this is responsible for sunburn.) Find a sun cream which protects against both.

Enjoy the shade

Sun exposure leads to 80% of melanoma cases, which is the most serious kind of skin cancer. This should be enough to tell us to take regular breaks from direct sunlight and let your body enjoy a bit of shade at least every 30 minutes.

Stay hydrated

Sun exposure when paired with dehydration is a deadly mixture which often leads to sunstroke. This can leave you feeling dizzy, nauseous and feverish, which nobody wants on a bright, sunny day! Always be sure to drink plenty of water, aiming for eight large glasses a day. This is true at all times, but even more so when it’s warm and bright.

Express Pharmacy is an excellent resource for information and treatment regarding a wide variety of common conditions. Get in touch today for more information and ensure your summer is fun, relaxing and – above all – safe.


Self-Care Made Simple

Posted Friday 24 February 2017 11:26 by Tim Deakin in Uncategorized

Self-care is reported to be on the rise in the UK. But what does self-care actually mean and why is it so important that people take self-care seriously?

What is self-care?

As the name suggests, self-care focuses on taking ownership of one’s own health and wellbeing. Self-care can mean many different things to different people and can relate to both mental and physical health.

Paying closer attention to your health and wellbeing can be as simple as putting aside more time for exercise, placing more emphasis on quality sleep or making improvements to your diet.

Why is self-care important?

It is estimated that 75% of diseases suffered in the UK today are lifestyle diseases – those that develop as a result of the way we live. Problems such as type II diabetes, coronary heart disease, many types of cancer and mental health conditions such as depression can all be, in part, attributed to the way we choose to look after our bodies and minds.

In a fast-paced, constantly shifting society, it can be hard to pay attention to the demands of your body and mind. But it is clear that self-care has an important role to play in supporting the healthcare system and alleviating the pressure on hospitals and busy doctor’s surgeries.

How to look after your mental health

1 in 4 people in the UK suffer from mental health problems each year. Yet, despite 25% of people being afflicted by mental issues, there is still often reluctance among people to discuss their problems.

Mental health issues can be related to a broad range of factors, many of which stem from stresses and strains in everyday life or a physiological problem such as weight gain or hair loss, which impacts on self esteem.

Here are a few simple yet effective ways you can treat your mental health:

Incorporate therapeutic activities into your daily routine: These can mean something different to everyone, but simple acts like breathing exercises, having a bath, or walking outdoors can help unwind the mind and keep you calm.

Avoid drugs and alcohol: They may seem like a form of relief, but indulging in drugs or alcohol only makes your symptoms worse in the long run.

Treat your physical symptoms: If your mental health has suffered due to concerns over issues such as weight gain or even impotence, getting these treated can help you feel better overall.

How to look after your physical health

Your physical health is what we most often think we need a doctor for, but sometimes we can treat the problem ourselves. £2 billion a year is spent by the NHS on conditions which could be treated at home, showing that there is actually a lot you can do yourself to keep your body healthy:

Drink water: It sounds obvious, but keeping hydrated works wonders for our physical health. Try to always have a bottle of water beside you at work, and aim for the equivalent of around eight large glasses a day.

Exercise: Moving around increases your circulation, aids weight loss, and even helps prevent diseases like type II diabetes. Just a short walk a day can greatly increase your physical health.

Watch what you eat: A healthy diet of vegetables, fruit, fibre, protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats helps make you healthier and more energized. Try to eat three full meals a day instead of grazing, and pay attention to when you are hungry and full.

If you smoke, stop: The body of evidence against smoking is overwhelming today. Smoking harms you and those around you, and makes serious conditions like heart disease and lung cancer much more likely.

Ask for help when you need it: Self-care doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to the doctors at all. Instead it means taking charge of your own health and making lifestyle changes that not only tackle an individual symptom but also improves the underlying condition.

If you are looking for support to help you take the first steps towards change, why not speak to the experienced team here at Express Pharmacy. You can contact us by phone or via our handy Live Chat tool for fast, discreet advice.

Related Products: Champix

National Walking Month: Getting Healthy the Leisurely Way

Posted Sunday 08 May 2016 12:27 by Tim Deakin in Uncategorized

national walking weekMany of us associate exercise with an intense workout. Perhaps it is a few sweat-soaked hours using a variety of contraptions in the gym or those punishing early morning group sessions designed to take your body to the brink of breaking.

All of these methods do indeed provide an excellent workout should you be at the correct level of fitness to carry them out, but there's also a lot to be said for more gentle exercise. Walking in particular is a fantastic form of exercise, and one that health professionals believe more people should consider when they decide to get fitter and healthier.

May is National Walking Month, so there's never been a better time to buy a supportive pair of walking shoes and get out in the fresh air. The goal of National Walking Month is to encourage as many people as possible to take a brisk 20 minute walk every day in the fresh air.

Regular walking has been proven to help manage serious conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. It has also been found can strengthen bones and muscles, improve your balance and coordination, and support cardiovascular function.

Research has also found walking's benefits to extend beyond the physical. The chemicals released by the brain during exercise have been found to help in the treatment of addictions and tackling of mental health issues. In particular, the sense of euphoria achieved through the release of endorphins boosts mood and contributes towards overall wellbeing.

As a form of expercise, brisk walks are both good for burning calories and weight management. In contrast to the high impact nature of running, walking puts the musculoskeletal system under less pressure and so is particularly suited to those wishing to exercise as they age.

So, how do you start walking and not just strolling? Well, here are a few tips:

  • Choose your route carefully – Walking is meant to be a stress-free, enjoyable activity, so find a route that isn't too treacherous. Cracked pavements and uneven surfaces should be avoided if possible.
  • Start with a warm up – As with all forms of exercise, you should look to perform some warm up exercises before starting. Walking slowly for five to 10 minutes is a good way to prepare your muscles and ready yourself for a faster pace.
  • Set your own pace Don't worry if you find that you're unable to keep speed up when starting out. Walking is all about finding a pace that suits you and gently increasing it when you can. You can even break up your daily steps into more manageable chunks of five or ten minutes at a time.
  • End with a cool down – Towards the final five minutes of your walk you should gradually slow your pace. This will help your muscles to cool down again, which is vital to keeping healthy and injury-free when exercising regularly.
  • And stretch – To lessen the effects of putting your muscles under stress and strain, try stretching out after exercise. This will not only avoid discomfort and muscle tightness later in the day but also allow you to feel refreshed and repeat the process day after day.

Walking is the perfect activity for people of all ages and abilities. There are no limitations to how long or how frequently you walk, it can be practiced anywhere, wherever you are in the world and whenever is convenient for you.


Weight Loss Surgery: Effective Treatment, Last Resort or Dangerous Avenue to Go Down?

Posted Saturday 17 October 2015 22:29 by Tim Deakin in Uncategorized

weight issuesAccording to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), more than two thirds of men and women in the UK are obese or overweight. This costs the NHS £4 billion per year, with gastric bypass surgery reportedly costing £85 million per year.

When we think of obesity, physical health and appearance automatically come to mind. However, it is important to remember that being overweight is not just physical; there are important emotional factors to take into account, too. And not only does fighting obesity have an impact on your mental state, the aftermath of losing weight can present its own unique challenges.

A recent study in the news has shown that people who have undergone weight loss surgery are four times more likely to commit suicide and twice as likely to self-harm. Weight loss surgery causes a dramatic change in a person’s life, especially if they suffer from existing mental conditions. For some men and women, finally being able to overcome a long-term battle with weight problems brings with it a belief that life will improve immeasurably and bring with it happiness, self confidence and an end to insecurities over body image. However, in many cases these deep seated fears do not go away post-surgery, and the disappointment that comes after an operation can have serious repercussions for the mental state of patients.

While there certainty are clear health benefits of undergoing weight loss surgery, there are also risks too. It is important to be fully aware of the possible implications involved, to help determine if surgery is the right choice for you.

Get professional advice

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the struggles you’re experiencing with eating and exercise. Not everyone needs the help of surgery to lose weight, and a healthcare professional can help determine this with you. They can recommend eating plans specific to your BMI (Body Mass Index), exercise advice and simple lifestyle changes that could all help along the way.

Depending on your weight and individual circumstance, there are treatments and medications available that can help you lose weight. These are usually in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise, but are a lot less invasive than going under the knife. You also have the added benefit of having more energy and feeling better in yourself emotionally as well as physically.

Medication and lifestyle changes don’t work for everyone, however. For many patients in the UK, the only effective solution to dangerous weight issue is surgery. If you are thinking about going ahead with any type of weight loss surgery, be sure to talk it through at length with your doctor, ensuring you are aware of both the physical and mental implications of such procedures. Ask to speak to a counsellor so you can get a thorough understanding of the emotional impacts your surgery could have on you post-op, so you can be as equipped as possible to take them on.

For some people, weight loss surgery can rescue them from future health problems such as heart disease or other weight related illnesses. Weight loss surgery can also help patients overcome self consciousness and body issues. But as recent statistics have shown, surgery without adequate support and understanding can result in devastating effects on confidence, unnecessary stress and even depression.

Anyone considering weight management treatments of any sort should always prepare themselves for a difficult challenge and a long battle that has no easy solution. Losing weight is never going to be an easy journey regardless of which method is used. But with the right approach and a back up team of health professionals, friends and family, it is possible to find light at the end of the tunnel and achieve a healthy physique that a man or woman can be comfortable with.