Stress is defined as ‘A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.’ Yet, it is SO much more than that. The way stress affects the body can be detrimental and we see it time and again in our patients. Patients who aren’t improving 100% with their treatment because of the intense amount of stress that affects them in their day to day lives.
So just how much can stress affect your body?
Stress Can Cause Physical Pain
Stress can do SO much damage to the body and it can present as physical pain in different ways for different people. Some experience it as shoulder, neck and back pain, while others have headaches, digestive issues or trouble sleeping at night. It compiles over the years and, if it isn’t properly managed, it can cause chronic fatigue and may even lead to chest pain and heart related issues (of course this is when you should certainly see a doctor).
Stress Can Affect Your Mood
When you’re stressed out, how do you act? Do you lash out at others, curl into a ball in your room and cry or have trouble getting out of bed in the morning? There are so many different ways that it can affect our mood, from sadness, to anger, to lack of motivation and irritability. If its anger and irritability, then it can affect our heart rate and blood pressure long-term. If it’s sadness or lack of motivation, this can cause a hormonal imbalance in the brain long-term.
Stress Can Affect What You Eat & Drink
Do you ever notice that one of the first things people say after they’ve had a rough day at work or home is that they ‘need a drink?’ Stress causes us to turn to alcohol, fatty foods, sweets, tobacco or even drugs (prescription or non-prescription) to escape from the way we feel. I’ve had patients that don’t eat anything when anxiety is high or they eat everything in sight.
The problem with overeating is that, of course, it leads to weight gain. Then you try to go on diets that never work because you’re really not addressing the true, underlying cause-STRESS!
How To Avoid Stress:
We’re all going to feel stressed at some point in our lives, it’s inevitable! Yet, it all boils down to how we HANDLE that stress! I’m not expecting you to quit your job or tell your boss to stick it, I’m asking you to follow a few simple tips I’ve provided below to better manage it, because that’s what it’s all about!
Close Your Eyes And Breath/Daily Mediation
The BEST way to deal with a stressful situation is to get away from it, close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths. I’ve literally done this at my office countless times. I’d go into the bathroom, close my eyes and just breath! You will not believe how much better and more clear headed you feel after just removing yourself from the situation temporarily and getting your mind right.
I always thought meditation was weird and foreign and didn’t really understand it until Dr. Josh and I became yoga teachers, but it has truly saved our lives! Every morning, we wake up and meditate (sometimes for 5 minutes, sometimes for 30 minutes). It’s a fantastic way to breathe, get your mind right and focus for the day. There are also some great end-of day meditations for relaxation and relfection. You can find a TON of mediations on Youtube. Our favorite free meditation on Youtube is Yoga By Candace. She offers up a lot of great, diverse meditations that are of varying lengths.
Yoga is an amazing, all-in-one way to deal with stress and prevent it from affecting you. It is a great workout for both the body and the mind and improves flexility and mobility. As stated above, my favorite free Youtube Yoga Classes are with Yoga By Candace.
Get Out In Nature And Turn Off Technology
I know all these examples sound completely simple, but they really make a HUGE difference. All day every day we are surrounded by technology and it’s SO incredibly great for the body to get out in nature and walk, run or bike. Many cities and communities have trails that are perfect to walk the dog or take the family on a bike ride, and be sure to leave your technology at home.
Exercising regularly is a must to both deal with stress and prevent it from affecting your body. Find a type of exercise you love doing and go with that. If you hate running, don’t do it! If you love ping pong, stick with that! There are endless amounts of types of exercises, so find one you love and get your sweat on!
Make Time For YOU And Your Hobbies
As we get older and have families, we start to drift away from what we really love to do and focus more on our kids, spouse, etc. This is completely understandable, but I also think it’s vital for the soul to continue doing what YOU love, even if it’s one day a week for just an hour. Reconnecting with your passion will not only reduce stress, but will promote creativity and excitement in life.
Getting together with friends and family or even networking with new people is so vital for our minds. Go out to lunch or dinner or grab a coffee with a colleague and chat it up. If your family and friends are the sources of your stress, join an online social group that interests you (I’m in many travel, diving and health groups), and connect with those like-minded people instead.
If It’s Getting To Be Too Much:
You know your body better than anyone else in the world and, if you feel like your stress or anxiety levels have reached their breaking point, it’s always best to seek professional help. There are so many amazing practitioners out there that love helping others and making a difference.
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Thanks so much for reading! Here’s to better posture and better health!