mental health and stress


Happiness and peace of mind can influence the health of our body more than most of us realize, it can affect how long we live and the prompt recovery from illnesses.

 mental health icons

Mental Health and Stress.
- Did you know stress can lead to undesirable physical conditions? 
- Did you know stress has a direct impact on your health? 

Mental Stress.
Mental stress is the reaction of the body to excessive emotional or mental pressure of any sort. In our modern life health conditions brought about by stress are very common and in order to have a productive, happy, efficient and harmonic workplace we must tackle the levels of stress in the working environment.

Occupational Health Service.
The Occupational Health Service can offer counselling to all University staff. Counselling can be face to face in any Clinic in Aberdeen and Elgin or through video link. All Counsellors are members of the relevant professional bodies according to their areas of expertise.
Counselling can help individuals who are experiencing difficulties, distress and isolation or when it is difficult to explain or talk about a particular personal subject that has a negative impact in your personal life.
To make an appointment please contact the Occupational Health Service:
Phone: 01224 669000.
Email: aberdeenappointments@iquarus.com

Telephone counselling service is also available:
Employee Telephone Counselling Service: 0800 3289 655.
Living Life Guided Self Help = NHS 24: 0800 3289 655.

For more information see: Occupational Health Service Leaflet.

Health and Stress


Happiness and peace of mind can influence the health of our body more than most of us realize, it can affect how long we live and the prompt recovery from illnesses.



When our body faces a distressful situation the adrenal gland, located above the kidneys, releases the emergency hormone, known as adrenaline.
Adrenaline helps the body face a distressful situation by changing its natural processes; it decreases the blood flow to the gut and body muscles giving muscles more energy and shuts down the functioning of the immune system giving the body more energy in total. This is known as the flight or fight response.

Recent studies have shown that the flight or fight response is activated when we are stressed and even when we have bad thoughts or negative emotions, the adrenaline is released at the same moment the body experiences stress, bad thoughts or negative emotions.

The recurrent release of adrenaline can cause several health problems:

termometerBlood sugar: adrenaline increases blood sugar and decreases production of insulin (hormone that controls the levels of blood sugar). If adrenaline is released too often because of stress the risk of diabetes is increased.

heartBlood pressure: adrenaline can increase blood pressure by constricting arterioles and veins increasing risk of hypertension.
Cardiac disease: excessive release of adrenaline can cause arrhythmia and increases the workload on the heart, this can raise the risk of heart attack.

weightObesity: adrenaline can move fat from storage into the abdomen and increase body mass index causing obesity. At the same time obesity increases the risk of diabetes. 

Indigestion and chronic constipation: by lowering blood flow to the gut, the bowel can also be affected causing chronic constipation or indigestion.

Susceptibility to bacterial, fungal and viral infections:
 if the body is in a constant state of stress the immune system will not attack infections with the same efficiency making the body more vulnerable.

Muscle tension: by increasing blood to the muscles they become tense and it can cause headaches, shoulder pain, backache and body pain after long periods of stress.

Decreased libido:
 constant release of adrenaline lowers the testosterone and oestrogen produced by the body, both needed for sexual arousal.

Menstrual cycle:
 chronic stress can alter the menstrual cycle and cause painful bleeding.


Happiness and peace of mind can influence the health of our body more than most of us realize, it can affect how long we live and the prompt recovery from illnesses.



Our everyday life is filled with stressful situations that can have a negative impact on our health. Avoiding negative thoughts and habits is challenging. Here is some advice on how to deal with stress.

10 ways to deal with stress

Meditation: meditation is a great way to deal with worries and stress of any kind; it is perfect for working people since it can be done anywhere. Mediating for 15 minutes every morning helps you plan your day, be more efficient and get rid of unnecessary worries or stress.

Practice Yoga:
 when we practice Yoga our mind stops thinking about our problems and starts thinking about our body. It increases the blood flow and takes more oxygen to the brain helping you think more clearly. It is also a great way to exercise.

Exercise: High intensity exercise is a great form of stress relief. Boxing, running, swimming, climbing are great examples.

Practice a hobby:
 whether you are dancing, singing, hiking or writing, if is something you are passionate about your mind will stop concentrating on stressful thoughts.

Deep breathing:
 when the stress is taking over, take a few minutes to breathe, slowly breathe in and out concentrating just on your breathing.

 whoever said laughing is the best medicine was not wrong! Laughing has a direct effect on the brain and relaxes the body, so watch a funny video, talk to a friend or tell a joke, but a find a way to laugh.

Essential Oils:
 some essential oils can help relieve stress including: lavender, geranium and chamomile. Add them to your bath and diffuse them in your home to create a calm environment.

Limit caffeine consumption:
 caffeine increases blood pressure, creates sleep deprivation and it can cause anxiety. During moments of high stress avoid caffeine or consume as little as possible during the morning only.

Get a good night sleep:
 make sure you get all the sleep you need in time and quality so you wake up energized and ready for your day as opposed to irritated and anxious.

 spend more time outdoors or connecting with nature. Go for a hike or a long walk down the beach, it helps you feel more relaxed and focus on the natural pace of the outdoor environment.



“Mindfulness is the awareness that emerges through paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment by moment” Jon Kabat-Zinn 


Mindfulness is a state of living in the present and paying attention to what is happening to our body, mind and surrounding at this present time and not focusing on the future or the past. Mindfulness is a technique to get our minds to focus on the present and not be seized by other thoughts, emotions, concerns, worries etc.

Some say mindfulness is a way of life and this is because we are effectively training our attention to where we want it to be, we are exercising control of our own thoughts and what to focus our attention on. Others view mindfulness as a journey inward that allows us to inquire, reflect and treat ourselves with compassion.

‘Mindfulness is the systematic training in knowing what is happening, while it happening...Mindfulness is this moment-to-moment precision about your consciousness in relation to your body, mind and environment.’ Rob Nairn, Diamond Mind, A Psychology of Meditation, p27

Why practice mindfulness?
It has been scientifically proven through several studies that practicing mindfulness improves the overall health of our body and mind; specifically the following improvements were noticed:
- Improvement in social and emotional functioning.
- Improvement in health and a reduction in visits to the doctor.
- Improvement in pre-existing health conditions.
- Significantly reduces stress associated with illness or mental problems.
- Reduces or even eliminates everyday stress.
- Reduces levels of depression and anxiety.
- Reduces the intake of pain relieving medicine among chronic pain sufferers.

What is the difference with meditation?
Although it has its origins in Buddhism, Mindfulness is secular in structure and practice. It is not a religious practice or even a purely spiritual practice, it is a technique to train the mind and learn to focus on the present. Mindfulness is the art of intentionally paying attention to the present time, this can be done through formal meditation practice or it can be more of an informal practice. Informal practices could include a short breathing exercise, going for a walk and paying attention to your surroundings, even making a cup of tea can be treated as a mindful pursuit by being in the moment without preference! Through being mindful we can settle and ground the mind, and act as an observer to our own thoughts without judging them or trying to make them disappear.

Mindfulness at the University of Aberdeen
There are a number of regular drop-in mindfulness sessions for all university staff.
For more information and to book a place visit The course booking portal.

For detailed information and events about mindfulness please visit:


All Resources for Mental Health and Stress Management.

Mindfulness Aberdeen: Provides a variety of mindfulness courses by UK leading meditation and mindfulness teachers. The courses are designed to help you discover and develop new ways of working with difficult emotions. 

Mindfulness Scotland: A registered charitable organisation that aims to contribute to the development of a more mindful and compassionate Scotland. 

Aberdeen Mindful: Is a programme that offers practical learning opportunities to cultivate mindfulness and to discover the fullness of sustainable well-being. 

University of Aberdeen Masters degree in Mindfulness: The University of Aberdeen is proud to offer MSc Studies in Mindfulness. The programme involves the development of mindfulness practice, the study of mindfulness and the relevance of mindfulness in a professional context. 

Brahma Kumaris: Founded in 1937, Brahma Kumaris is a worldwide spiritual movement that offers guided meditation, seminars and retreats at no cost. Join a variety of seminars and workshops including positive thinking and meditation for beginners. They have an infinity of guest speakers and teachers renowned worldwide and a lot of resources to share.

The Aberdeen Buddhist Group: The Aberdeen Buddhist Group is an independent group with the aim to help the people of Aberdeen practice Buddhism; they hold weekly meetings as well as a variety of seminars including introduction to meditation and introduction to Buddhism.