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For those who know me, I’m a man with a mission to “Speak Up and Speak Out about Stress,” and this is also the topic of this years’ International Stress Awareness Day that takes place on November 1..

Stress has become one of the most important health problems in our society with a detrimental effect on your health and wellbeing, quality of life and longevity.

Together with my dear colleague Danielle, I’ve set up a FREE Online Stress Summit with international experts that speak authentically how they got interested in the topic of stress and share their unique view and ideas how to deal with it and to which we want you to SIGN-UP and share to help us spread a very important message.

Did you know that the cost of stress in EU alone adds up to 600.000.000.000€ that is a lot of people, adults and children alike that are affected by it.

Signing up shows your support in our cause to help the world to be a better place for all one share and like at the time.

Our international experts like Prof. Stephen Palmer here in this video below, have given us a moment of their time to share their authentic story for which I hope you take the time to listen.

SIGN-UP today on http://www.INSAD2017.com

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Your INSAD 2017 host

Tom

Osteopath, Stress Coach and International Speaker

tommeyers.eu

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Let’s talk about stress

Stress: A conflict between biology and culture

Article Published in Executive Secretary Magazine: 25 January 2017

Tom Meyers explains why stress has become a nuisance and what we can do about it

Over the last few years many words have been spoken and written about stress and numerous actions undertaken to do something about it. However, stress is still on the rise. It is estimated that  % to 90%  of all visits to primary care physicians are now directly or indirectly related to stress. And stress after musculoskeletal pain has become the second most frequently reported work-related health problem in the EU. These are alarming facts and figures.

But what is stress:  why has it become a nuisance and what, if anything, can  we do about it?

As an osteopath and stress-coach I’ve been contemplating these three questions for many years and have started to share through presentations and workshops, my insights and professional experience.

Stress as you might have realised by now is  something very elusive. Hans Selye, the “father of stress” once  said, “Everyone knows what stress is, but nobody really knows.” With this statement, he meant that stress has a different meaning for different people under different conditions. For example,  when someone says, “I have a lot of stress” they can mean that they have a lot to do or express a feeling of nervousness or being jittery. Which makes talking  about stress very complicated.

Even scientists can’t seem to make up their mind about what stress is. There are ten or more definitions depending on the viewpoint of the scienti fic field: biology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, …

Consequently, I like to clarify some words first.  When I speak of a ‘stressor’ I mean the elements that cause the stress response to be activated. When I use the word ‘stress’ I use it to refer to  the biological response of the body to any demand (stressor) mediated by physiological adaptations and bringing  about the physical, psychological and social/behavioural (biopsychosocial) changes.

So, what is stress? 

Stress, together with ease, are part  of the human bimodal adaptation response. Stress or the fight-flight response is that part of our adaptation response that is activated when an action is needed or danger is perceived. Physiologically this means that when the brain perceives a stressor it immediately activates  the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) which stimulates adrenaline and noradrenaline to be released . These hormones in turn increase  heart rate, blood pressure, redirect blood from the skin and intestinal tract to skeletal muscles and release glucose from the liver into the blood stream. After this initial reaction, the brain sends  a message to the adrenal gland to produce cortisol which prevents  insulin to store energy, it also shunts  blood and glucose distribution away from the neocortex to the more primitive parts of the brain. In addition, cortisol  inhibits the immune system and decreases libido.

Just imagine this: you’re crossing a street and a car is coming your way at high speed (stressor). What  do you expect your body to do and what not? Exactly, you must flee, get out of the way instantaneously and not think what to do first, nor contemplate, your intelligence, creativity or charisma, or have thoughts about sex. No, everything is directed towards getting  your body, the vehicle of your soul out of danger.

When the stressor is over, in the example given meaning you’re safe on the pavement again, ease or also referred to as the relaxation-recuperation-regeneration response sets  in. Physiologically this means activation of the parasympathetic branch of the ANS to stimulate the release of serotonin and muscle relaxation, which reduce s heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure. Furthermore, vasodilation in the skin and intestinal tract is promoted which stimulate s digestion. As cortisol levels drop, the  inhibitory effect on immunity and healing is lifted and normal blood and glucose distribution is  re-established in the brain. However, the drop of cortisol only starts to be effective 20 minutes or so after the stressor is over.

In other words, the stress-ease response is an operating system where you have the stress response which is all about survival and protection at one end of the spectrum … and which uses energy, causes wear and tear and on the other end you find ease, a response where you unwind, store energy, recuperate and regenerate… to be ready for the next challenge.

All of this is being regulated by the brain and is a very individual process.

So why has stress become a nuisance?

The explanation takes us back in time as stress per se is not really the problem. Stress is part of the adaptation response that evolved to protect ourselves from acute physical stressors but which hasn’t had an update since prehistoric times. Biological evolution is notoriously slow and requires certain stimuli to effectuate genetic adaptation covering several generations.

And here lies the crunch. Some researcher say that genetic evolution in humans is actually no longer relevant. Why? Because  as a species we now depend on technology and culture for our survival rather than random mechanisms of variation and selection.

What that means is that when humankind first walked this earth it adapted itself to the environment until it saw the light and started to adapt its environment to its needs.

However, in recent years technology has allowed us to modify our environment so effectively that our environment and culture has changed at a higher rate than  we can cope with biologically. Technology has removed our species from nature and from ourselves. This conflict between biology and culture or in other words the unhealthy relationship between human adaptation an d the environment is why stress has become a nuisance.

While technological progress and the many tools that have been developed (computer, smart phone…) were supposed to give us more leisure time they’ve created an environment that makes us work harder and longer, and where the boundaries between work and play have become increasingly blurred. Thus, increasing our time in the fight-flight  response (see above). On top of that the same fight-flight  response which is ideal for jumping away from that car is also being triggered for stressors like psychosocial risk: information-overload, job insecurity, non-ethical management decisions, etc.

As a result, the body gets less and less time to recuperate and regenerate. On a physiological level, we’re depleting our energy reserves, and becom ing more prone to infections, cancer and other life threatening diseases  as our bodies ’ immune response among other systems is being inhibited chronically. That being said  the structure and function of our brain is changing too. Yes, chronic stress reduces the size of parts of your brain including the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex which are related with memory and cognition. While on the other hand  stress it increases the volume of the amygdala, a part of the brain that is related to fear. In the brain,  size does matter and thus with the amygdala making more neural connections fear and anxiety increase  while neurons in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex atrophy and with it rational thinking, creativity, etc. are becom ing more and more of a challenge. All of this is due to the effect of cortisol on vascularisation and glucose distribution in the brain.

So the more we rely and lead our life to the rhythm of technology the less resilient we become. Recent ly published health statistics on burnout and long term sickness (in Belgium) corroborate this. Neuropsychiatrist Theo Compernolle MD., Phd. Explained that young people between 25 and 35 have become the most important group experiencing burnout. According to him, people in this are continuously connected, while connected multitask and thus increasing the time spent in the stress response . More time they spend  ‘in stress’ the more inefficient they become and end up in a downward spiral where burnout is just the inevitable outcome.

With all of that in mind, is there anything we can do to manage stress more effectively? Yes, but it asks for your personal contribution and investment. Technology is still progressing, and with virtual reality and robotics becoming more integrated in our lives it will continue to change our environment, culture and society.

They key to effective stress management is to understand that stress becomes a nuisance when the demands on you as an individual outweigh s your resources. With the increase in stressors eliciting  the stress response it is thus an imperative that you return to ease or the word I created for it : “reaset” on a regular basis in counterbalance.  Spend enough time to physically and psychologically recuperate and regenerate your resources. This “reaset” time is essential to increase your resilience (measure for health).

The essence of a reaset is an activity you choose to do that stimulates parasympathetic activity, lowers your heart rate, breath rate, blood pressure, relaxes muscles, reduces adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol, and increase s serotonin levels. I do say activity and not sitting in the sofa. I noticed in a clinical study I conducted in 2015 that some people (whose  adaptation response is incapable of returning to ease) actually were more stressed doing nothing. This phenomenon can be explained by the fact that subconsciously a stressed person is always on the lookout for danger. When that sabre toothed tiger is upon you, when your survival is at stake would you sit down and relax?

For your information, running is also a no go when you’re in the grip of stress. For those whose adaptation response is not functioning properly going for a run  will lead to more stress. More stress that will more likely than  not get them into an early grave from a cardiac aneurysm or stroke. This is more common than  you think and it usually happens at an untimely moment like in a park or the woods where no doctor can come to a timely.

To sum up, stress is a part of our biological adaptation response. However,  stress has become a nuisance due to a rising conflict between biology and culture. While biology is notoriously slow to evolve our environment and culture, due to influence of technology, has changed with a faster pace than that our biology can cope with.

The only way you can curb the trend is to become mindful of your body’s  needs and by including enough time to “reaset” in your day. Your biology is genetically primed for danger and as our society is ruled by bigger, better, faster, stress has become the rule rather than the exception.

You must start to take time to consciously stimulate the ease response. This can be done through breathing exercises, mediation, mindfulness, relaxing walks… by whatever that gives you energy instead of taking it away. Choose activities that will counterbalance the impact of stress and that will give your body recuperation and regeneration  it needs. Of course, you can  wait for society to change but then you’re only waiting for yourself as you are the society. It’s up to you. Your body is your responsibility. Reconnect with your body, with your nature, your values…

In your spare time,  do less and enjoy more. Disconnect from technology on  time. Discover who you are, spent time doing a meaningful activity.

While at work and even when your job is demanding take regular “reaset” breaks. Time invested you will recuperate through being more efficient afterwards. Become aware of your stress response being activated and reduce it consciously with a practiced regulating breathing exercise. Remember stress is a friend not a foe, a friend with special needs and only you can provide those.

Open the discussion at work with managers and staff alike. Evaluate psychosocial risks, designs plan to reduce it, implement and evaluate in time. But most importantly it is you who must be good to yourself and manage your stress as no one can do that for you.

References

Eurofound and EU-OSHA (2014), Psychosocial risks in Europe: Prevalence and strategies for prevention, (PDF) Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.

EU-OSHA – European Agency for Safety and Health at work: Milczarek, M., Schneider, E., Gonzalez, E.R., (2009). OSH in figures: stress at work – fact and figures. (PDF) Luxembourg office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

Fink (2016). Stress: concepts, cognition, emotions, and behaviour. handbook of stress, volume 1. Elsevier.

Meyers (2015). The effect of the Reaset Approach on the autonomic nervous system, state trait anxiety and musculoskeletal pain in patients with world related stress: A pragmatic randomised trial.

J.T. Stock (2008). Are humans still evolving? European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) vol. 9.


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Tom Meyers is an osteopath, stress coach and visionary in the field of health and wellbeing. He runs a private health practice in Brussels. He gives regular inspiring presentations in Belgium and abroad on the topic of ‘Understanding & Managing Stress’. Tom also runs workshops on the ‘Reaset Approach’ a novel manual body-mind and educational health approach he developed. In 2017 he will publish his first self-help and help-others book in which he interlaces soul-purpose, personal development, health and healing into a compelling guide to thrive. In January Tom, will deliver an interactive presentation to the members of EUMA (soon to be IMA) Belgium zooming in on ethical conflicts and the impact on work-related stress and burnout. For more information , visit be.euma.org. If you want to know more about Tom, or invite him to your own event, take a look at his: reaset.me.

A pain in the neck

Together Magazine 52

Article by Tom Meyers published in Together Magazine 52, October 2014

According to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, musculoskeletal pain in the neck, shoulder and back is the most common work- related health problem.

Its increasing prevalence in modern society is concerning, and when left unresolved it contributes to distress at home, loss of productivity and increased absence at work.

Working as an osteopath and Stress-Coach for Body and Mind, most of my patients make an appointment for relief from musculoskeletal pain. When asked about the cause of their discomfort, I mostly hear patients say it is related to working in an office all day: my chair at work isn’t the best, I’m not sitting straight, my computer screen isn’t at the right height, I’ve been working with the computer mouse a lot – in other words, patients most often put the blame for their discomfort on ergonomic or postural issues.

And, yes, prolonged static postures or repetitive movements can lead to muscular chronic tension and eventually pain.

This biomechanical link has been researched extensively, and, although it seems logical, it will

probably surprise you to know that scientific studies show that ergonomics aren’t the main problem. There is in fact only limited evidence for a causal relationship between computer work, computer mouse and keyboard time and neck, shoulder and musculoskeletal pain.

In other words the desk, the mouse, the posture are contributors. However, they aren’t the main cause of your pain.

So what is?

It turns out the biggest contributors to musculoskeletal pain are psychosocial factors, mainly job stress as we try to cope with a heavy workload, deadlines, information overload and reorganization.

On a behavioral level these psychosocial factors prompt you to work longer hours, increase your pace at work and make you take fewer breaks, to give but a few examples.

On a physiological level these factors contribute to triggering the stress response which increases heart rate, blood pressure, cortisol and adrenaline levels and heightens muscular tension.

Chronic stress in turn leads to mood swings, anxiety and depression, and these change your posture and so contribute to musculoskeletal problems.

This combination of biological and psychosocial factors means that we must observe musculoskeletal pain from a ‘biopsychosocial’ perspective.

So the next time you have musculoskeletal pain:

  • Take a moment to reflect what has been happening in your life or at work lately.
  • What are the changes that have taken place and got you all tied-up?
  • How much stress have you experienced lately and what have you done to relax?
  • Are you still carrying the weight on your shoulders of issues from long ago?
  • Have you taken too much on your plate lately?

Take time to understand the true cause of your pain, unwind and be mindful of your beliefs and how others affect you. If pain persists then consider professional help.

For more health and wellness tips, tune in to the feature Health Matters on http://www.radiox.eu or visit www.tommeyers.be

Health a biopsychosocial process

Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ nr. 41 on Radio X from 22 September 2014

HEALTH

I’m Tom Meyers and welcome to another episode of Health Matters. In Health Matters I share with you my personal experience as an osteopath and stress coach, bring you scientific insights and practical tips how to manage stress and improve your health and well-being.

As seen last week Health is a dynamic, biological, psychological and social or in short a biopsychosocial process that changes and adapts itself constantly to the needs of the moment. Health doesn’t mean the absence of dis-ease. Believe it or not dis-ease is sometimes essential to keep the health balance. Ok you might now declare me insane but just keep listening and let me explain.

On a biological level, when you had too much to drink you’ve intoxicated yourself and the best thing to restore the balance is to get that alcohol out of your system, yes I mean being sick.

To illustrate a psychological example well think of the moments you were really down, depressed and rebounded. That dip triggered a process from which you learned and elevated yourself. Socially it can be like difficulties at work that you’ve overcome. I’m describing here dynamic processes that I’m sure you’ve experienced. Problem arrises when that excess alcohol stays inside of you, you stay depressed or you don’t transcend the difficulties at work. Health then can’t express itself anymore and illness, or in other words a state of not being in full health sets in.

The list of examples where dis-ease is not the opposite of health is endless, but let me highlight one more. Ageing, yes becoming older. There are many theories on how old we can get. Some say our body is made to get up to 150 years but so far no one has ever reached that age by my knowing except in the Bible. I’m not saying it isn’t possible. A Dutch scientist deducted from an bio-evolutionary perspective that 54 is the age for which we are made. In the sense that we’re here to bring unto this world another generation and as soon as that generation can live independently, we’ve reached out purpose. He goes on saying that many people fall into a deep hole when the kids are out of the house, as – exactly from that biological perspective the purpose – the goal has been reached and we come face to face with the question for which we haven’t prepared ourselves sufficiently: What now…?

Whatever you believe, from a cellular perspective there is a limit of how many times a cell can divide… this is called the Hayflick Limit. When we’re lets say ¾ of the way a cell can divide and the cell isn’t as vibrant as when we were born well that has an effect on your health but does that mean You’re ill? I don’t want to answer that one but it does mean that we’re changing with age.

Your mind on the other hand stays internally young. Ask an 80 year old how old he or she feels within and you will rarely and probably never get 80.

That said: How old do you feel inside?

So lets recapitulate. Health is a dynamic biopsychosocial process, a balance where short-term dis-ease is part of the equation and thus, that being ill, now and then is ok. Why do I take time to illustrate this… because our western society has been conditioning us that dis-ease is bad, something to be avoided at all times or when an illness state set in to get rid of it as quickly as possible with whatever means possible and without any consideration of the lessons that can be learned from it. Y

es some problems are transcending the control of the individual like environmental pollution and its influence on our health. But still if you can already take the responsibility of that part that you can have control over you will experience health benefits and stay longer in balance.

That’s all for this episode of Health Matters have a great day and I’ll catch up with you again next week here on Radio X or why not subscribe to the Health Matters podcast or Facebook page so you don’t miss any future feature or bonus episodes and articles. You can find the appropriate links on my website www.tommeyers.be

The World is a reflection of You

Article published in Together Magazine 51, September 2014 p. 29-30

Cover Photo Together magazine 51 Sep 2014

Article written by Tom Meyers

“If only I had…”. “If only I was…” Stop right there and reflect on the following phrase ‘The world is a chewing gum: it takes the shape of your teeth’ coined by Professor Stefano D’Anna author of the personal development book ‘The School for Gods’.

The essence of this quote is that you are the creator of your environment, that your environment is the sole creation of your being, your thoughts, mind and body.

When you are constantly living outside of yourself, when you’re never satisfied with what you have, you’ll never find true happiness or peace within.

You are the only one that can change when you are not happy with what you have with whom or what you’re surrounded with, by creating the change within. To emphasise this with a famous quote that is attributed to Mahatma Gandhi: ‘be the change that you want to see in the world’.

Although it is contested that Gandhi really said this the deeper meaning of the message I know from personal and professional experience it to be true.

To illustrate this imagine you are a person weighing 70 kilo’s that feels depressed, how do you feel and how does the world look like? Now you are that same person 70 kilo’s but happy, how do you feel and how does the world look like now?

Same person with a different state of body and mind, experiences the world very differently. I invite you to take some time and reflect on this and come up with a few examples from your own life when you felt happy or sad and how you looked at the world in the different dynamics.

The world is because you are, taking control of who you are and  appreciating what you have are key to living the life you want to live. Become present, mindful and reclaim your responsibility for your health and wellbeing, thoughts and actions and the world around you will shape itself like a mirror image. So it is as within, so without. Your outside world is really the exact reflection of your inner world.

The time is now to stop and return to ease by not wanting more or being different then you are. It’s time for integrity to return, to look again within and bring out the dream you want to see in the world by nurturing that dream within and in the present.

For the days when it all seems impossible, when a veil of clouds are hindering the light. Take time-out, focus on your breathing for a few minutes and add a mantra – which is a phrase you repeat consciously out loud or internally – from the Hawaiian practice of Ho’oponopono. This mantra is very simple and helps to dissipate created gloominess or powerlessness through reconciliation and forgiveness to yourself.

Exercise

Start focusing on your breath and slow it down to a cycle of 6 breaths a minute, then add the mantra ‘I’m sorry, Please forgive me, thank you, I love you’. Feel the words spoken to yourself and repeat until you feel tensions dissolve and ease return.

The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realise that you control your own destiny.’ Albert Ellis, psychologist

Tom

For more health and wellness tips, tune in to the feature Health Matters on www.radiox.eu or visit www.tommeyers.be

Is the sound of your phone making you sick?

Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ on Radio X from 19 May 2014

I’m Tom Meyers Stress Coach and welcome to another episode of Health Matters. Where take a closer look at the S word that has become one of the biggest challenges in our modern day society: Stress.

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Don’t laugh but today I would like to talk about the ringtone of your mobile phone and the possible stress evoking effect it can have on your body.

Please hear me out and tell me afterwards if my logic has any ground for consideration and change of behaviour.

Imagine you’re sitting in a quite place and the phone of the person next to you goes off. When it is a gentle ringing tone you probably don’t flinch. However more and more people seem to have a hearing problem or are so anxious that they won’t hear their phone go off that they have it ringing at full volume.

I think you get the picture and the effect of that sudden loud noise is you tense up, go instantly into a hyper-vigilant state of alert mode with muscles contracting until you realise it’s a phone going off… however your heart that has started racing takes a bit longer to calm down.

ALARM

Another element that has to be mentioned here is that some people instead of a gentle alerting ringing tone install a ringing tone that sounds like a fire alarm going off… call me what you like but WHAT? Think about it for a minute.  For generations now the sound of an alarm is associated with DANGER… a sign that you must protect yourself… run to survive, get away…

Each time I notice how my body reacts to these unexpected sounds… yes, with the same stress response as I would have in case of a real emergency.

A stress response that in these cases are completely unnecessary.

Cognitively I know it is a phone ringing… but my body isn’t as tuned in to all the new technological gadgets and it reacts with a survival response for no good reason at al.

Ok you have such a ringing tone on your mobile don’t think you’re spared from the same reaction and consequences…

If your stress levels are under control, managed well, then there isn’t a problem.

The point I like to make is that when stress levels aren’t under control these small seemingly insignificant stressors add up and contribute to chronic stress which in turn leads to dis-ease.

What I personally do is as soon as I’m aware I’ve tensed up I practice the Reaset breathing exercise until I feel my body and heart rate are somewhat back to normal again.

All that said the mobile phone is not the only gadget that has a sound to attract your attention… your alarm clock in the morning is another… How do you wake up? To the sound of the birds singing, a classical tune or a menacing horn.

Within a world were coming to rest in body and mind has become something of an oddity and stress the rule the result is well… dis-ease.

The positive note is you can change, tweak your life, your thoughts, your outlook, events, situations that health doesn’t become an endangered species but becomes you, the fruit of your efforts.

I’m Tom Meyers Osteopath and Stress Coach for Body and Mind and contributor of thought to your health and wellbeing.

Would you like to know more about my work or Understanding & Managing Stress presentations then go to tommeyers.be

Health Matters Today

Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ on Radio X from 12 May 2014

Want to listen to this feature then visit: Health Matters on Radio X or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or RSS feed.

Take Time Out and Reaset Yourself

I’m Tom Meyers, Stress Coach and welcome to another episode of Health Matters.

Today I like to talk postponing health promoting behaviour.

I often see it in people who have to much on their mind – with deadlines at work, family obligations, kids to take care of – and are hoping and waiting till it gets a bit calmer to then take time to take care of their health.

However that calmer day never seems to come, the day that there is less to do, that all troubles are solved and that we have more time… and so the inevitable happens.

We’re living in a society where the current challenge isn’t over yet or the next is already there and thus time for health, well never presents itself.

Think about it when you recognise this behaviour in yourself. Think about it for just a second. What will the outcome be eventually?

Yes you’ll probably fall ill or create a ground for chronic disease or cancer that manifest themselves years later.

Taking care of your health can’t be postponed as everything else depends on it and I don’t know anybody that doesn’t see good health as one of there top wants in life. However few will act accordingly and really take care of their health.

The reason for our ignorance is probably that we don’t feel it that we’ve upset our health until it is too late. Our mind usually knows and tells us in the form of an internal twitter message ‘hey ho you know if you continue like this you’re going to get ill’ but there is no physical sensation backing it up and that tells us that something is not ok and thus we continue and override the twitter message.

My view however is that we probably do get a physical sign with that twitter message but we are so astrayed from our physical sensations that we aren’t aware of it.

The bottom line is that we’re forgetting that we are biological beings with a body that has very different needs and limits than our mind.

The very down to earth observation I usually bring up is I can’t see my thoughts but I can see my body that means they are two very different frequencies with their own spectrum of possibilities. Or in other words in my mind I can run several marathons one after the other and win them all in an instant but my body can’t it can’t even complete 1 marathon.

Being more mindful of the body can it be learned? Yes… Mindfulness and yoga are typical practices that are training you to do just that. However these aren’t always the best to start with as they take time and aren’t they also a form of postponing behaviour? Haven’t got time to do my exercises now but this evening I’ll rush off to my yoga lesson.

Breathing exercises on the other hand are always to your disposition and are the most effective way to calm body and mind.

Go to my website and download the FREE eBook ‘Reaset: The return to ease’ which has all the info you need to make breathing for health a ongoing dynamic process in your life.

Take time before time passes you by.

I’m Tom Meyers Osteopath and Stress Coach for Body and Mind and contributor of thought to your health and wellbeing.

For more information about my work and presentations on understanding and managing stress, visit the website tommeyers.be

 

Pressure vs Stress

Pressure

Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ on Radio X from 5 May 2014

I’m Tom Meyers Stress coach and welcome to another episode of Health Matters.

Pressure and stress are words that are often used interchangeably, but what is the difference?

Pressure is the feeling of urgency caused by the necessity of doing or achieving something.

The word pressure is especially used in connection with limited time-frame… like you can be under pressure to achieve a deadline. Pressure can also be a force that others or you put on yourself and that motivates you, makes you achieve your goals, pass exams or helps you to perform better.

We’re hard wired for pressure as it encourages us to continually grow and push our boundaries. Sometimes we also refer to it as positive stress.

However pressure doesn’t always lead to a positive outcome. Some forms of pressure can have the opposite effect then the one desired it can make you unmotivated and weak when you need to be strong, fail your exams or decrease your performance. For example you can feel the negative side of pressure when you unexpectedly, have to give a presentation but you really don’t like speaking in front of an audience. Another example could be you’re asked to perform a certain task but you don’t have the skills or knowledge to do it or just not enough time to do it in.

This type of oppressive pressure,… but also too much unwavering pressure, without the needed recovery time leads to stress.

Stress

Insufficient pressure on the other hand isn’t without consequences either. Lack of pressure or challenges at work can lead to boreout and this isn’t because the person is lazy.

Boreout

Boreout is when there is not enough stimulus in other words not enough pressure and can lead to lack of drive, inability to enjoy life, fatigue and underperformance.

Stress on the other hand, when used to describe a subjective feeling is experienced when the demands put on you outweigh you’re ability to cope with them and is regulated on a biological level by the stress response.

Stress is often described as the ‘fight and flight’ mode, an adaptation response inherited from our prehistoric ancestors that had to protect themselves from physical threats and is associated with among other things the increase of the sympathetic nervous systems and the hormones adrenaline and cortisol.

In other words when it comes to pressure versus stress, pressure is a stressor that can act as a motivator. However, when pressure gets out of hand or isn’t kept under control it leads to stress that in turn becomes harmful for your health.

The ability and scope to cope with pressure are different for everyone and depend on: gender, age, genetics, previous experience, skills, knowledge and the specific situation,…

Ease

Tips to ease pressure:

  • Take more time to relax
  • Follow stress management courses
  • Implement stress management – relaxation exercise
  • Stay positive and keep things in perspective

For more tips pick up your copy of this months Together Magazine or go to their website tomgethermag.eu

I’m Tom Meyers Osteopath and Stress Coach for Body and Mind and contributor of thought to your health and wellbeing.

For more information about my work and presentations on understanding and managing stress, visit the website tommeyers.be

Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress

Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ on Radio X from 28 April 2014

I’m Tom Meyers Stress coach and welcome to this weeks episode of Health Matters.

On the 15th of April The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work launched the campaign ‘Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress’

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As a stress coach and regular speaker in companies about ‘Understanding and Managing Stress’ I didn’t want to let this campaign pass by unnoticed and because I agree with the agencies statement that safety and health at work is everyone’s concern. It’s good for you and It’s good for business.

Work-related stress is – after back and neck pain – the second most frequently reported work-related health problem in Europe – and around half of workers consider work-stress it to be common in their workplace?

50 to 60% of all lost working days can be contributed to work related stress and those absences tend to be longer that those arising from other causes.

The most common causes of work-related stress are job reorganisation or job insecurity, working long hours or excessive workload and being bullied or harassed at work.

Other causes of work-related stress are:

conflicting demands,

ineffective communication,

lack of clarity over roles,

mismatch between job demands and competence,

lack of involvement in decision making,

lack of support, poor interpersonal relationships

and unhealthy work-life balance.

In the European agencies poll also determined that 4 in 10 workers think that stress is not handled well in their workplace.

Total cost to companies and the social security system … hundreds of billions… and that’s a lot of money.

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So how do you recognise that you’re suffering from work-related stress? Well lets look at the symptoms which can be divided in 4 categories:

Emotional changes including anxiety, fatigue and poor relationships with colleagues

Behavioural changes these can be poor timekeeping, carelessness, aggressiveness

Cognitive issues like difficulties in concentration or making decisions, reduced  creativity and productivity.

Physical signs are recurrent neck, back or shoulder pain, frequent colds or spells of flu, stomach or bowel problems and high blood pressure..

And if work-related stress isn’t managed properly it can eventually lead to burn-out and depression.

Although work-related stress is described as – not an individuals fault but an organisational issue – it needs to be tackled from both ends.

If you leave it all for your boss to sort out you might be in for a long wait. In Health Matters I address insights about health and wellbeing and share information what you can do to help yourself to stay healthy and happy.

Unlike what you might expect but happiness and health do not just happen… they are learned skills.

For more information about the Healthy Workplace Manages Stress campaign go to healthy-workplaces.eu

I’m Tom Meyers health coach and contributor of though to a healthier way of living.

If you like to know more about my consultation work and stress management presentations then visit the website tommeyers.be

What is Health?

Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ on Radio X from 7 April 2014

I’m Tom Meyers Stress coach and welcome to this weeks episode of Health Matters.

Health Awareness Week Radio X

Today is World Health Day and the start of the Health Awareness Week here on Radio X. A week were the question ‘What is Health?’ will be discussed, reflected upon and given the attention it deserves.

Last week I shared with you the definition of health and reflected on the element if health is a state or a process.

Today lets look at the origin of the word health. Health comes from the Germanic word heil meaning being whole or wholeness.

Now lets use this wholeness reference to our question ‘what is health?’ as you could reframe it to What does it mean to be whole?

Mm sound even more difficult to answer then what is health well think again. Go back into memory lane and think of that day where everything flowed, where you felt one with yourself and the environment, even the Universe itself.

You remember that day? Yes that day, the day where all your senses seemed more in tune and that you could handle anything that was put in front of you.

That day, you – felt ‘whole’. You see that was easier then you thought at first wasn’t it?

But what was it that made you feel that way? Have you ever taken the time to reflect what the elements where that made that moment so special?

If not then I  really recommend you to take some time to reflect on this as you might find some amazing truths about yourself. And those truths leading to knowing and being mindful of yourself are great contributors to living your wholeness and that in turn has a positive effect on your health.

When you put that knowledge to good use I can assure you it will put into motion a great health promoting dynamic process.  And I say this from personal experience.

And yes it takes time and with our never ending to do lists it seems impossible to take that time-out but then that never ending to do list makes you ill and taking time-out makes you healthy… mmm yes eeuh… What? It’s your choice. It’s part of that human trait you call free-will that makes you responsible to do or do not.

Anyway I hope you continue listening to the various contributions on ‘What is Health’ during the Health Awareness Week. Interact with us on Facebook or email. Tell us your interpretation of health and continue the conversation with your family friends and colleagues.

And get your copy of the April edition of Together Magazine where you can read this weeks Health Matters feature (p.34-37) and lots more contributions on health and wellbeing. Don’t find a copy then go to their website  togethermag.eu

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I’m Tom Meyers health coach and contributor of though to a healthier way of living.

If you like to know more about my consultation work and stress management presentations then visit the website tommeyers.be