April has been Stress Awareness Month for many years and being at the front end of seeing how stress affects the body, I want to make sure you are given the proper tools to decrease the amount of stress you deal with.
How does this affect the body?
Let’s begin by looking at what stress does to the body. We know how draining it can be emotionally, but have you ever wondered about the pains you experience during stressful times?
When you are stressed, your muscles become tight all at once. The American Phsycological Association says, “Chronic stress causes the muscles in the body to be in a more or less constant state of guardedness. When muscles are taut and tense for long periods of time, this may trigger other reactions of the body and even promote stress-related disorders.”
For example, both tension-type headache and migraine headache are associated with chronic muscle tension in the area of the shoulders, neck and head.
What can you do to avoid or handle stress?
There are many ways to avoid stress or even when stress is unavoidable, handling the stress. Below are 5 ways you can avoid every day stresses.
1.Keep your long term goals in mind.
Stress can be hard on not only your body, but your self-determinism. Deadlines, heavy workloads, and working long hours are known to cause a high amount of stress. When this stress comes about, be sure you look at the reason why you are in the position you are and if it’s going to help you improve.
2. Seek help when you need it.
To branch off of the first point, be sure you are asking for help when you need it. People are willing to help and you do not have to do everything on your own. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.
3. Make sure you are getting proper sleep.
As you may know, a majority of society is having a difficult time getting proper rest at night. If you are one of these people, try cutting back on the amount of caffeine you are drinking, work out in the mornings, and remove distractions 1 hour before bed, such as, TV, computers, or cell phones. Keep your mind rested! It’s important.
4. Stay active
I’m sure you have heard it before, but keeping an active lifestyle can help elevate your mood by releasing endorphin’s.
4. Don’t underestimate the importance of breathing properly to promote a relaxing response.
One of the best health care tips for our society would be to develop the ability to activate our relaxation response effectively. This would be an excellent complimentary action in addition to a good diet, exercise, and your physician’s advice.
A properly trained physical therapist can combine developing an effective relaxation response with an efficient breathing mechanism; together you have one of the best answers to controlling the detrimental effects of stress and its various manifestations.
Kelly Carter-Schelter, DPT
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