Is Stress Merely a Word? | Dean Dickinson, Registered Osteopath & Chartered Physiotherapist

mhaw18-insta-bluePlease welcome Dean Dickinson with his article, Is Stress Merely a Word? for the Mental Health Awareness Week campaign “Stress: Are we coping?

I’m delighted that Dean said yes to contributing to this series as I know first-hand the wealth of knowledge and practical mastery he possesses as both an Osteopath and Physiotherapist.

Dean has saved me and my back on many occasions. His easy manner, guidance and maintenance in keeping my naughty sacro-iliac playing nicely are second to none.

Dean embodies the holistic approach of osteopathy; recognising the effects of stress in his clients.

Happy reading!

Dean DickinsonAbout Dean

Deasn is a Registered Osteopath and Chartered Physiotherapist. He embraces an holistic system of treatment for a wide range of medical conditions. His postgraduate qualifications include paediatric health, cranial osteopathy, medical acupuncture, exercise therapy, electrotherapy, pilates and swiss ball training.

He also teaches at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in the UK and Europe. He is currently studying for an MSc in Nutritional Medicine and a PGCert in Independent Prescribing.

Dean summarises it all beautifully, ” I love my work, I love learning and I love being at home with my wife, three beautiful daughters and Charlie my dog”

Is Stress Merely a Word?

The word ‘stress’ was first ‘coined’ by Dr Hans Selye in his first published work in the Nature Journal in 1936. As a concept it was ground breaking. It grew from his studies in Organic Chemistry. His ongoing work led him to discover and describe the General Adaptation Stress (GAS) Syndrome, a response of the body to demands placed upon it. The Syndrome details how stress induces hormonal autonomic responses, and, over time, these hormonal changes can lead to ulcers, high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, arthritis, kidney disease, and allergic reactions.

Let’s Break This Down

In other words; an organism (this includes humans) and their response to its environment can be stressful!

Now, its worth pointing out that some stress is good for you. This is known as positive stress. For me, being a big softy, falling in love is the best example. The first mutual interaction with someone you are attracted to, developing into a psychological relationship whilst divulging in the pleasures of physical intimacy are all stressful! Do they like me as much as I like them? Am I satisfying them? Do they like my hairy back? Hairy legs? And so on……. hopefully, you get the picture!

The Short-Term Stress Response is Safe and Normal

Talking about us mere human beings more specifically; we have a highly effective and safe response to changes in our immediate environment to stress. This is known as the Sympathetic Fear, Flight or Fight response.

For example; If a lion jumps out from behind the hedge as we are sitting in the garden (environment), our immediate response (GAS) is for our sympathetic nervous system to get excited, which in turn excites the hormone Adrenalin along with other mediators. This in turn speeds up all our systems in the body. Our heart will beat faster, our lungs will expand more, our blood will travel quicker. This is the body’s attempt to get blood to the musculoskeletal system to get you run or fight! I know what I would rather do! This process is all short term; you either get away and then rest allowing your body to recover or you get eaten!

The Long-Term Response is Very Destructive

The problem with Stress is if it becomes long term or chronic response (GAS). The Adrenal glands that sit on top of the Kidney. These glands produce Adrenalin (short acting response to Stress), and Cortisol (regulator of the stress response) and Aldosterone (regulates blood pressure). So very simply: under long term stress; the Adrenalin fatigues and the Cortisol and Aldosterone levels increase. Cortisol is a pro inflammatory hormone so long-term implications result in more inflammation creating increased allergic responses, inflamed muscle and joints (arthritis) but also the bodies arteries (atherosclerosis). Along with raised Aldosterone, which is raising blood pressure, the impact on the Cardiovascular system can be catastrophic.

So, therefore, long-term stress can be a killer! It has implications for your quality of life you wish to lead and for life itself. Therefore, the answer to the question is a big fat NO! Stress is not just a word!

So, get content, relaxing, laughing, loving, moving and eating bright and well grown delicious food

Beyond what initially sounds like “it’s all doom and gloom”; you can do something about it!

Very simply it falls into 4 categories:

  1. Relax & rest more
  2. Sleep better
  3. Move more
  4. Eat well

Dean Dickinson

Registered Osteopath & Chartered Physiotherapist

MSc Student in Nutritional Medicine




Mental Health Foundation: Mental Health Awareness Week

Taking the Lid off of Stress and Mental Health | Carole Spiers, Chair of The International Stress Management Association [UK]

The Key Characteristics of Resilience | Laurel Alexander, Wellness Professionals at Work

Mitigating Stress | Sam Pont, Strength & Conditioning Coach and Personal Trainer

Understanding Stress and How it Affects your Emotions | Mark Vahrmeyer, Registered Psychotherapist

Elite Sport and Mental Health | Ian Braid, MD, DOCIAsport


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