It’s Stress Awareness Month, so we thought we’d explore the topic of stress and how it relates to not only the mind, but the body too and even breast health. Over the past year our nurses have reported an increase in women suffering with health anxiety, mainly caused by stress.

Stress can be felt in different levels and there can be many things that can cause stress, you may be going through a bereavement, work stress, illness, relationship issues, cost of living, even general day-to-day life can feel overwhelming etc.  

Just as you self-check your breasts or chest regularly to increase your breast health awareness, it’s worth noting how you generally experience stress to be more stress aware and notice if there are any patterns that influence your stress levels. Do you relate to these types of stress below?

Acute Stress: This is usually in response to an upsetting or unexpected event, such as bereavement or an argument or when a quick response is required, such as slamming on the breaks. Conversely, this type of stress is also associated with things that are exciting, such as going on a roller coaster, going to a party or watching a scary movie.  

This type of stress can be intense however, is temporary and doesn’t last long; and can be a helpful tool to help you focus and take action. 

Episodic Acute Stress: This is when you frequently experience Acute Stress. This can be a turning point as a sign that something needs to be addressed because when left untended, can lead to Chronic Stress. If you notice acute stress events increasing, think about what is causing you the stress, is there a pattern (something in particualr that feels stressful, a person, your environment etc)? How are you reacting – are you bottling things up, do you have sudden outbursts? What small changes can you implement in your day/life or the way you are reacting to things that can help reduce the frequency and/or intensity of stressful moments.

Chronic Stress: Stress levels have become persistent and ongoing. You may constantly feel under pressure at work, home or financially. There may be a health stress affecting you or a loved one. Perhaps things have been building up over time and have led to you feeling overwhelmed.

This type of stress needs to be addressed as it can lead to unhealthy coping strategies, such as increasing caffiene intake, which can be a cause of breast pain. Other coping strategies could be eating unhealthy foods that are high in sugar, numbing feelings with alcohol and/or drugs, staying up late, losing your temper with family and friends, self-isolation and so on.

 

Take note of what is making you feel stressed, how you are reacting or coping and thinking about how you can develop a way of reducing the stress and managing what is going on for you long term.

This could be talking to a friend/family member, a councillor of if it is breast health related, you can speak to one of our specialist nurses here at Lady McAdden. Click here to book a free appointment, face-to-face, remotely via Zoom or as a phone call.

Another helpful tool could be to journal your thoughts and feelings to help you process them.

Movement can be another helpful way to process stress. Exercise reduces cortisol levels (a stress hormone) and increases hormones that promote a more positive and calm feeling in mind and body among many other benefits.

We will be sharing more tips and tools on our social platforms over the coming weeks, so keep an eye out on Facebook or Instagram.