Stress is on the up

N2K_Stress_2011_6mmStress has been a hot topic for years, and it’s not getting any better.  People are even more stressed now and technology is making it worse.  How many emails do you have to deal with each day?  Do you get phone calls and emails wherever you are at any time of the day or night?

READ: Heads Together to improve mental health awareness, a campaign spearheaded by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

When I wrote the book Stress – The Essential Guide, the thing that became most obvious to me was how most people don’t really help themselves.  We have so many habits and idiosyncrasies, beliefs and obsessions that we often do things in a way that make life much more difficult for ourselves.  So I included a paragraph called Are You Your Own Worst Enemy?

This is not meant to be harsh. If you have lost someone close to you, you or someone close to you is seriously ill, you’ve been through divorce, or lost your job you are more than likely to feel very stressed. But you do need to be good to yourself when this is happening. There are so many ways that we aggravate situations.

For example:

• You might be a perfectionist – always wanting everything to be just so.
• You may procrastinate – putting things off until they overwhelm you.
• You may have been brought up with very strong beliefs or prejudices which don’t serve you well and  mean you cannot accept certain situations.
• Perhaps you are in denial and cannot face things, thereby making things worse for yourself.
• Or maybe you are proud and don’t like to tell people when things are going wrong.
• You might find it impossible to say no, even when you really don’t want to do something.
• And similarly you are always doing things for other people, when you have plenty on your plate already.

It’s not easy to change your personality without some serious work on yourself, and that’s where counselling can really help.  Understanding why you do things is a great start to trying to stop them. Do you do things because you’re still trying to please your parents, even if they’re not even here any more?

There’s no doubt that it’s easier to make changes when you’re in the good times, but it’s likely that you are only faced with these problems when things are getting out of control. Stress is a feeling of being unable to cope with the pressure upon you, so it’s a good idea not to put pressure on yourself and stop being so hard on yourself.

Stress – The Essential Guide by Frances Ive

 

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Holiday health tips

Beach sceneThere are so many health issues that crop up when you go on holiday, particularly abroad, and especially with children too.  Whether it’s travel sickness, upset tummy, insect bites and stings, or too much sun, this helpful A-Z provides plenty of self-help tips for problems that don’t really need a doctor.

ALLERGIES

Foreign lands, strange foods, plenty of heat, insect bites, pollen, chemicals, dust, and cosmetics can all cause allergic reactions.  And if you are out in open spaces where there is plenty of grass you may suffer from hay fever in which case you can try Nelson’s Pollenna.

If there is severe reaction seek medical advice.

  • Apis mel homeopathic remedy for emergency relief to allergic reactions.
  • For burning watery eyes try Euphrasia homeopathic tablets.
  • Pulsatilla is for itchy eyes and blocked nose.
  • Arsen Alb soothes itchy and runny nose and sneezing.
  • Eye drops containing herbal Euphrasia can help sore eyes.
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BURNING

‘Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun’ so don’t. As well as getting burnt you can get sunstroke with symptoms of dizziness, dehydration, raging headache and sickness.

The Aussies say: ‘Slip on a shirt, slap on a cap, and slop on some suncream’.

To prevent burning:

  • Use a high factor sun tan lotion but try to choose one that doesn’t contain a host of chemicals because there are fears that some lotions may have a part to play in skin cancers – see Environmental.
  • Wear cotton shirts even in water where you can still burn.
  • Cover up on cloudy days because the sun still burns.
  • Limit exposure to sun to morning and late afternoon.
  • Take a supplement like VitaCell that contains Vitamin E, beta-carotene and other antioxidants to make the skin more resilient to sun.

For burnt skin:

  • Put one or two drops of either Lavender or Tea Tree essential oils into a bath of cool water to soothe skin, or make a compress with a few drops diluted in one litre of water.
  • Cold compresses can also be made using vinegar, cold tea. cucumber juice.
  • Make a concoction of stinging nettles boiled and cooled and use in the same way.
  • Belladonna 30c is ideal for both sunstroke and sunburn and helps with beetroot skin to throbbing headaches and full blown delirium, according to homeopath, Sue Leach
  • If burning is not too intense try Cantharis.

Severe sunburn is a medical emergency.

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COLD SORES

Echinacea photo courtesy of A.Vogel Bioforce

 The ultra-violet rays of the sun are the biggest trigger for cold sores, but sunbeds also activate them too. They indicate a run down immune system.

To prevent:

  • Take regular Echinacea before holidays in the sun.
  • Eat plenty of garlic in the diet all the time to boost the system.
  • Use a lip cream which contains Propolis, which is made by bees to protect their hives from infection! To treat:
  • Take homeopathic remedy Rhus Tox 6c.
  • Apply Tea tree, Lavender or Eucalyptus oil.
  • Drink lemon balm tea – you can even grow your own!
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DEHYDRATION

Sweating in the heat, travelling on planes, or stomach bugs can all cause dehydration, which can be a very dangerous condition so if someone is shivering and going hot and cold take them to the hospital or a doctor.

To prevent:

  • Don’t spend long hours in hot sun in the middle of the day
  • Avoid coffee and alcohol
  • Drink plenty of water regularly.

To treat:

  • Try drinking coconut water which replaces fluids in the body.
  • Take China 30c homeopathic remedy to cope with loss of fluid due to diarrhoea and vomiting.
  • Make up an Electrolyte Solution with 17 fl oz (500ml) of boiled water, 8 teaspoons of sugar and a half teaspoon of salt).
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EYES and EARS

Swimming pools and the sea can affect eyes and ears and cause infections.

Euphrasia courtesy of A.Vogel Bioforce

To soothe sore eyes :

  • Dilute a few drops of Euphrasia or Eyebright in water and apply to eyes on cotton pads.
  • Place cucumber slices on eyes – they’re deliciously cooling.

For ear problems:

  • Soothe earache with two drops of Lavender oil on cotton wool in the outer ear.
  • Inhale Olbas oil to prevent nose and ears blocking.
  • ‘If ears are popping on the plane,’ says Sue Leach, ‘Silicea is a good homeopathic remedy’.
  • ‘Pulsatilla 30c is better if ears hurt on the flight because of a cold.’
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 FATIGUE

Packing, travelling and arriving somewhere new all take their toll and it’s not uncommon to arrive feeling exhausted. Anyone who is working hard and burning the candle at both ends can lose half a holiday recovering!

Self-help tips:

  • Get plenty of sleep on holiday and avoid too much alcohol in the first few days.
  • Do some exercise daily – walking, swimming or yoga.
  • Spend at least one hour a day alone being calm and quiet.
  • Eat healthy foods – plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and lots of water to drink.

Remedies:

  • Nux vomica 30c is good for anyone who is exhausted from too much work.
  • Have daily baths with a few drops of aromatherapy oils in – stimulating Basil, Rosemary or Lemon Grass, or better still ask your partner for a massage!
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 GERMS

Recycled air and other people’s germs on a plane can often result in illness on arrival at your destination. Add to that the stress of actually getting ready to go away and you could succumb to illness when you arrive.

To prevent:

  • Boost the immune system with Echinacea before and during the flight.
  • Coat the inside of nostrils with olive oil to protect from germs.
  • Drink plenty of water to flush out toxins.

To treat:

  • For bacterial, fungal or parasitical infection take 10 drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract 2 to 3 times a day – it has an antibiotic effect.
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 HOT FEET

Hot feet can swell and become puffy while athlete’s foot is more prevalent in the sun.

  • Tea tree oil diluted in water or used in a natural lotion can prevent fungal infections.
  • Thuja tincture is good for soothing and healing athlete’s foot.
  • Bathe puffy feet in water with a few drops of peppermint oil, or foot lotion.
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INSECT BITES AND STINGS

Itchy, uncomfortable and unsightly insect bites and stings can also become infectious and make you ill.

To avoid :

  • Light Citronella candles to keep insects away.
  • Use a  herbal insect spray that doesn’t contain DEET to repel bugs and soothe bites –  for gnats, mosquitoes, midges, fleas, biting flies at home and abroad.
  • Put a few drops of Tea tree, Lavender, or Citronella oils in a water spray, or on the wrists and ankles – check that you are not allergic first!

To treat:

  • Apply coconut oil mixed with a couple of drops of lavender and neem oil to keep mosquitoes away and soothe bites.
  • Ledum is the number one homeopathic remedy for bites, according to Sue Leach. Take them every 15 minutes until swelling goes down.
  • For bee and wasp stings take Apis.
  • Soothe insect bites with neat Tea tree or Lavender oil – test first to see if allergic.
  • If nothing else is available put vinegar on a wasp sting.

Jellyfish stings

Very painful and rather shocking when you’re swimming.   The area goes very red and stings as if needles are being stuck in you. So here are some tips:

  • Get out of the water as quickly as possible.
  • Dowse skin with neat vinegar if you can – this works amazingly quickly. The pain goes almost immediately and the redness slowly wears off.
  • If there’s no vinegar you can pee on it – lots of old wives’ tales about this such as male urine is better. It’s obviously to do with the acid as with vinegar, so definitely try it out if there’s a shortage of  vinegar!

 

  • For jelly fish stings remove the tentacles and immerse in hot water.
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JET LAG

Long-haul flights can cause: tiredness, depression, lack of concentration, constipation, and disturbed sleep as the body clock takes time to adjust.

  • On long haul flights Cocculus 30c helps with sleep deprivation – take one tablet every four hours, Sue Leach advises.
  • Arnica 30c helps the body deal with the shock of travelling between time zones – again every four hours.
  • Olive is a good flower remedy to cope with the change your body is going through.
  • Put Neroli (if you can afford it!) or Lavender oil on a tissue and breathe in to induce sleep.
  • On arrival bathe with few drops of Grapefruit, Rosemary, Juniper or Lemongrass oils in water to refresh you.
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KIDS’ CUTS AND GRAZES

Children get into scrapes wherever they are and holidays are a prime time for them to get cuts and grazes.

  • Arnica gel or cream is great for rubbing on bruises particularly after a hard day on the slopes.
  • Take Arnica homeopathic tablets for bad bruises – take regularly until the colouring has gone. For broken skin try Calendula cream or Hypercal which is a combination of healing Hypericum and soothing Calendula.
  • Rescue Remedy cream soothes most cuts and grazes.
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 LIGHT-HEADEDNESS

A mixture of sun and alcohol can cause headaches,light-headedness or sheer exhaustion.

  • If you are hung over or feel generally light-headed try Nux vomica 30c homeopathic remedy.
  • Have a refreshing bath with a few drops of Lavender, Rosemary or Juniper oils.
  • Sip peppermint tea – but not if taking homeopathic remedies as it reduces their effectiveness.
  • Breathe deeply and slowly into your diaphragm.
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MIGRAINES

The sun, alcohol, tension, long distance travelling, and general stress can bring on a severe headache. The best way to stop a migraine is to nip it in the bud before it becomes intolerable.

  • Rub lavender oil on the temples, or any other combination of oils such as Migrastick which contains both peppermint and lavender oils – but don’t get near eyes or they will pour!
  • Take peppermint tea bags on holiday and sip at first signs of headache.
  • A good dip underwater can often clear out the sinuses and stop a headache in its tracks.

Once it strikes:

  • Both Migrastick and 4Head can help – you rub them directly on the skin, but because they contain strong oils they can make your eyes run if too near so be careful how you apply them.
  • For a throbbing headache, redness sensitivity to light and noise try Belladonna 30c homeopathic remedy.
  • For headaches due to a mixture of sun and alcohol, take the homeopathic remedy, Glonoin 30c.
  • When headache is accompanied by feeling sick Nux vom 30c sometimes does the trick.

Sometimes it’s too late to stop a migraine and it may not go away until after you’ve been sick, so don’t hold back!

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 NERVES

Last minute panics and worries about your destination can cause nervous diarrhoea.

  • Take Argent Nit, or Gelsemium homeopathic remedies if you are paralysed with fear.
  • For nervous air passengers put a few drops of Bach Flower’s Rescue Remedy on the tongue .
  • Take Arnica tablets if feeling shocked and traumatised – if this happens every time, start taking before leaving home.
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OVER-INDULGENCE

You don’t have to go away to suffer from indigestion and a bloated stomach – picking at barbeques can make stomachs uncomfortable.

  • Nux vom is a good homeopathic remedy if your stomach feels uncomfortable.
  • Peppermint tablets or tea are excellent for good digestion, relaxing the muscles in the gut and soothing pain and wind, but don’t take with homeopathic remedies as it reduces their effectiveness.   Even sniffing peppermint oil can take away feelings of nausea.
  • Slippery elm is a good indigestion remedy – herbal and totally natural.
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PRICKLY HEAT

For some people the heat and sun brings out an irritating rash which ‘prickles’ the skin.

  • Put a few drops of Lavender oil in a luke warm bath to soothe the rash – disturb the water with your hand to disperse the oil.
  • Take Cantharis homeopathic remedy for intense irritation, made worse by the sun.
  • Aloe Vera gel can be very soothing – preferably straight from the plant.
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QUEASINESS

There could be several reasons for feeling sick or queasy when you’re away – it may be due to food, the heat, the change of climate, jet lag, not enough sleep, jet lag, or even yearning for home!

  • For constipation and nausea take Nux vom 30c.
  • With headache and strong thirst try Bryonia 6c.
  • For travellers constipation use Nat mur 30c.
  • Peppermint oil on a tissue or in tablets can quell queasiness (never take homeopathic remedies with peppermint).
  • For home sickness Bach Flower RemedyHoneysuckle – a few drops in water or on the tongue three times a day.
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RASHES

There can be all types of rashes that crop up when you’re on holiday. Check what you are doing that is different from normal – for example, is it your suncream? If you suspect that it is, change the brand. We suggest natural suncreams which don’t include harsh chemicals, such as those containing aloe vera.  Or it could simply be the sun – see Prickly Heat above, or it might be the sea!  Try to make sensible changes before going to a doctor, who might give you strong corticosteroid creams.   A homeopathic remedy, such as Graphites, can ease

 

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STRESS

Packing and organisation before you leave home can leave you feeling stressed on the journey there. Add to that travelling and arriving somewhere new it’s not difficult to feel completely frazzled.

  • If young kids are whining and being annoying give them Chamomilla 30c – it’s a safe homeopathic remedy and they’ll probably like the sugary taste.
  • On arrival relax in a bath with a few drops of Geranium or Lavender oil.
  • If feeling weepy and fed up use Ylang Ylang or Clary Sage oils in the bath or in a tissue tucked in your collar.
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 TRAVEL SICKNESS

Motion sickness can happen in a car, boat, or plane but is much worse on an empty stomach. It’s important for all the family to have a light meal before setting off on a journey.

  • Cocculus 30c is described by Sue Leach as the ‘perfect remedy for sickness brought on by reading in the back of a car or feeling green on a boat’.
  • Nux Vomica can calm the stomach after vomiting.
  • Sniff Ginger oil, sip ginger tea (if possible), or buy ginger tablets.
  • Other teas which may help – Chamomile and Peppermint (peppermint should not be taken with homeopathic remedies).
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UPSET STOMACH

Over half of Britons who travel abroad come back with some kind of stomach upset – from mild diarrhoea to serious bugs.

There are several ways to prevent stomach bugs:

  • Build up resistance before going away with Probiotics which populate the gut with ‘friendly’ bacteria.
  • Do not eat lukewarm food – it should be hot or chilled!
  • Don’t have a meal in restaurants where there are lots of flies around the food.
  • Wash hands before eating.

To treat discomfort and vomiting:

  • Take homeopathic remedy, Arsenicum Alb 30c for upset tums, particularly if exhausted from vomiting, restless and anxious.
  • Carbo veg 30c is good if you are ‘bent double with stomach cramps and laid out with pain,’ Sue Leach says.

Severe food poisoning requires medical attention.

Slippery Elm is good for indigestion when taken after a meal.

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VACCINATIONS

For cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, polio and malaria seek advice from a homeopath about vaccinations. You need to take expert advice about areas where these diseases are rife and can be deadly. There are some remedies that can be taken in areas where there is less of a risk, but you need to check that your travel insurance will cover medical costs if you don’t have the recommended vaccinations.

  • Even if having vaccinations, take Echinacea, garlic and Vitamin C to build up the immune system before and during the trip.
  • There are some homeopathic remedies to prevent Hepatitis, Tetanus and Malaria, but make sure you speak to a homeopath direct or to a company like Helios.

For more information contact:

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 WATER

Meat and seafood may be common culprits where food poisoning is concerned, but in many countries it’s the water that hasn’t been properly treated which makes you ill.

  • In hot countries drink mineral water in bottles unless you are advised that tap water is definitely safe.
  • In undeveloped countries only drink boiled water.
  • If travelling in the East steer away from salads and peel fruit to avoid the water which has been used to clean them.
  • Never accept ice in suspect countries!

XHAUSTION

Long journeys, hot climates, and a change of setting can be tiring at first.

  • Siberian Ginseng can perk you up – it might be good to take before you go on holiday but don’t take when pregnant.
  • Arnica 30c may be well known for bruising but it’s also a good remedy for physical exhaustion.
  • Revitalise with a few drops of Geranium or Rosemary oil in the bath.
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 YEAST

Too much yeast in the body can cause Candida which results in bloated stomachs or thrush. Anyone who is prone to thrush and fungal infections may find they get worse in hot countries with exotic foods washed down with plenty of local wine.

  • Take Probiotics before going away and during the holiday to populate the gut with healthy bacteria and strengthen resistance.
  • Calendula and tea tree creams can be used to soothe itching of thrush or any fungal infections.
  • Live natural yoghurt can be eaten regularly, and applied to a tampon to cool down an irritated vagina.
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Passiflora courtesy of A.Vogel Bioforce

ZZZ

Nerves and excitement combined with a strange bed and jet lag can seriously upset sleep patterns.

  • Try to get back to normal by going to bed at the right time for the country you’re in.
  • Passiflora or Valerian are herbal remedies which can promote a relaxed night.
  • Put a few drops of Lavender or Neroli oil in a hot bath before bedtime.
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HAVE A GREAT HOLIDAY

Six tips for mindfulness

MindfulnessHere are some ways you can practice mindfulness without meditating to improve a sense of wellbeing even while you are on the go.

Eat mindfully

Take a few minutes during the day to just eat. Not multi-tasking lunch with conversation, the computer or phone. Just absorb the taste and textures of the food. Take in the smells. You’re much more likely to feel satisfied and nourished.

Walk mindfully

Be aware of your movement, the contact with the ground, and the stretching and contracting of the muscles. Notice the sights, sounds, smells, temperature. This gives you respite and a break from negative thinking.

Observe your breathing

Paying attention to breathing can also slow down repetitive thoughts and worries. When the thinking slows down, there can be more clarity and creativity. Notice the air enter the body, the movement of the body as it breathes. Follow a full in-breath and a full out-breath. Repeat this a few times.

Practice mini pauses

Before automatically opening an email, answering the phone, or pushing the button in the lift… pause. Notice with full awareness the actions you are taking. This develops your ability to not just react unthinkingly. This is a valuable skill when you are under pressure.

Listen with all of you

Open up fully to hear what someone is saying. Put on hold what you want to say next or any immediate judgements. Just take in the words. Listen with what you see and observe the tone, pitch, pauses, and expressions. This will give you much more information to find the right response.

Break the routine

Getting out of your routine for a while can bring you back to your senses more. Do something new, such as trying a different type of coffee or tea in the morning, taking a slightly different route to work, or rearranging your desk or a room at home slightly.
The BeingWell is a mindfulness social enterprise, that offers mindfulness courses in one-to-one and group settings for to the general public as well as workplace wellbeing programmes. A proportion of profits goes towards rolling out mindfulness courses to economically excluded people in Tower Hamlets. Log onto www.thebeingwell.org, email: be@thebeingwell.org

Balancing hormones

SaladHow much does stress really affect the body? We all know that it plays its part in depression, heart health and other conditions, but actually it has an enormous effect on our hormones which can affect you in many different ways. Kimberley Gridley, a homeopath, nutritionist, specialises in Natural Hormone Balance for Women, based on functional medicine.

Kimberley sees women of all ages, but not surprisingly many of them have faced high levels of stress. Too much stress exhausts the adrenal glands, which provide the adrenaline for the ‘fight and flight mechanism’. Common issues are weight gain, emotional ups and downs, periods and PMT, menopause and hot flushes, fibroids and endometriosis. Many are struggling with lack of energy and tiredness, as well as Chronic Fatigue or Fibromyalgia.

In addition to saliva and blood tests to check for hormonal imbalance, Kimberley asks patients about their diet. She also runs a diagnostic test called a heart rate variability test (HRV) which indicates how the hormones are coping, how you burn calories, whether you are struggling with stress levels, and what metabolic type you are.

Functional medicine is a personalised approach to healthcare which focuses on why we have disease and getting to the root cause of the problem. Each person is treated as an individual and their particular health issues are addressed. This is in stark contrast to conventional medicine which often treats disease with drugs in a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Once Kimberley has all this information she prescribes homeopathic or herbal remedies, vitamins and minerals, and other supplements such as Omega 3s or probiotics. She also draws up a diet that is suited to your type, but is very likely to consist of a lot of vegetables.

Kimberley practises at the Nelson’s Pharmacy at 87 Duke Street, London W1K 5PQ, 020 7079 1282, www.nelsonspharmacy.com . See Kimberley’s website  where you can get a free copy of Hormone Balancing Eating Plan: The Low GI Companion e-book.

Find out more about functional medicine by watching Dr Mark Hayman on YouTube. 

Health benefits of holidays

sunbathingIt’s official – holidays do us good in many ways as a new study has found out.  Among the findings of The Holiday Health Experiment conducted by tour operator Kuoni, and Nuffield Health, the UK’s largest healthcare charity, were:

  •  Blood pressure of the holidaymakers dropped by a beneficial six per cent while the average of the non-holidaymakers went up over the same period by two per cent.

(Avoiding high blood pressure is important to avert risk of stroke and heart attacks).

  • Sleep quality of the holidaymakers improved while that of the non-holidaymakers deteriorated. Holidaymakers saw a 17 per cent improvement while the average for non-holidaymakers reduced by 14 per cent.

(Quality of sleep is important for the body to physically and mentally repair).

  • Stress – the ability to recover from stress saw an average improvement of 29 per cent among holidaymakers. This compared to a 71 per cent fall in stress resilience scores among the non-holidaymakers. (The higher the stress resilience score the better the body is recovering from stress efficiently).
N2K_Stress_2011_6mm
Stress – The Essential Guide, Frances Ive

The Holiday Health Experiment was carried out between summer and autumn 2012, revealing how holidays may help us live longer.  The results are published in The Holiday Health Report.

So the ‘feel good’ factor of holidays has been proven.  The above benefits are extremely important to health because:

  • High blood pressure can cause strokes and heart attacks, so avoiding it can be a life saver.
  • The body heals when we are asleep so the quality of sleep is essential for physical and mental repair.
  • The higher the stress resilience score, the better someone recovers from stress. Stress in itself causes absence from work, but has many other knock-on effects such as depression, anxiety, and serious illness.

Participants were divided into a travel group and a non-travel group and all had stress-resilience testing and a 360+ Health Assessment by Nuffield Health.  This was carried out alongside psychotherapeutic tests conducted by psychotherapist Christine Webber.

 

The Holiday Health Experiment also found: –

  1. Decreases in blood glucose levels, reducing risk of diabetes
  2. Improved body shape (losing weight around their middles) which may lower risk of heart disease and diabetes
  3. Improved energy levels and mood

 

Six participants in one group were then sent on a holiday for two weeks to Thailand, Peru or the Maldives. The other six people stayed at home and continued working.

In September 2012, all participants underwent a second array of clinical and psychological tests and wore heart monitors for 72 hours.

‘As many as a third of workers do not take their full holiday entitlement each year – I urge everyone to ensure they plan their holidays carefully, working hard is important but so is taking time to rest and recuperate,’ Dr Lucy Goundry Nuffield Health, Medical Director, Wellbeing said.