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Stress is often defined as a mismatch between the demands placed on us and our ability to cope with these demands. A small amount of stress can be healthy and beneficial as it can work as motivation to get things done. However if you are regularly or intensely stressed, this can have a negative impact on your health. As well as being an unpleasant feeling, it is a known risk factor for heart disease, stroke, cancer and low back pain. So recognizing and learning to manage stress can have a really positive impact on your life.
The signs are varied and everyone will experience it differently but some of the symptoms can include:
Recognizing your signs of stress is one of the first steps to learning how to manage it. Do you get breathless or nauseous? Do you snap at friends or family? Do you feel overwhelmed? When you start to feel these symptoms, it is important to recognise these as symptoms and use some management techniques to help you deal with this stress.
One of the most straight forward and convenient ways of management is to try some deep breathing exercises. Deep breathing exercises have been shown to reduce heart rate and blood pressure, reduce anxiety levels, and reduce feelings of stress. Just think of it as our body’s own stress-relief mechanism. Also concentrating on you breathing, for example counting your breaths, will focus your attention away from the cause of your stress. Beaumont hospital have developed a resource called the mindfulness and relaxation centre. This is an online resource you can access here and practice some breathing and relaxation techniques you can use to manage stress.
Exercise causes the release of ‘happy hormones’ called endorphins that help to improve mood and lower stress. Exercise can also have a positive impact on sleep, which can often be interrupted by stress. High intensity physical activity can also be a great way to take out any frustrations built up during the day. Slower, more controlled exercises with a focus on breathing such as Pilates can also be helpful for stress relief. Talk to your chartered physiotherapist about exercises that are suitable for you.
Take time out. We all need a little bit of time to ourselves, whether that’s a short walk outside in the sunshine at lunchtime, or listening to some of our favourite music, or having a quiet break by yourself to do some meditation or mindfulness exercises. During busy periods it can be hard to find the time to do this, but think of it as recharging the batteries. Short, frequent breaks can help you to be more able to deal with whatever challenges you face.
If you would like further information on stress management, contact us at Ballsbridge Physiotherapy.