27 Apr Stress Awareness Month
The month of April is also known as Stress Awareness Month.
So, this month we are asking the question – how would you look after yourself by managing stress?
Are you stressed?
Firstly, do you have any stress? The answer is almost always yes from most people although some people can find stress helpful or even motivating – particularly when exercising! You may not realise you have stress in your life, but long term stress can have a major impact on your health, including your body, your emotions, and your behaviour.
What is Stress and How can we manage it?
Stress is your body’s adaptive response to any demand or threat. During a stressful situation, two hormones: adrenaline, and cortisol, are produced to activate the fight-or-flight response through our nervous system. This built in response can be beneficial as it helps our bodies to perform better and react quicker in high pressure situations. Think of coming face to face with a tiger in the jungle – your heart would beat faster, you may break into a sweat and your body would be ready for you to make a run for it.
What are the negative effects of stress?
Despite the short-term benefits, negative effects on physical and mental health can arise under chronic stress or being overwhelmed in the long term. High blood pressure, anxiety and a weakened immune system can all manifest as a result of stress. These conditions can then lead to more serious issues such as increased heart attack and stroke risk as well as some cancers.
How can we live with stress?
Whilst we can’t always remove the source of stress, the key is to get a state of stability and balance in the nervous system and live with stress. Apart from getting regular chiropractic adjustments, there are many healthy ways to help our body to cope better with stress. Here are our top 5 recommendations:
“Motion is Lotion”
By engaging in physical activity, your body releases a hormone called endorphins which can improve your mood and reduce the tension inside the body caused by stress. Exercise also improves your overall health by reducing the risk of chronic diseases and improves cardiovascular performance. Exercise does not only keep your body healthy physically but also mentally. Being active makes you more resilient to stress. Instead of forcing yourself to exercise for your health, it is a good idea to pick an exercise that you really enjoy, including running, going to the gym, and Pilates.
Eat a healthy diet
You are what you eat! Having a healthy and balanced diet helps to improve overall health and reduces stress. Proper nutrition will support your body’s function and boost energy levels.
Whole foods like fresh fruits, vegetables and lean protein help to reduce inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation inside the body can increase the stress within the nervous system as the body has to work harder to deal with it. Therefore, picking the right food and avoiding processed and high-sugar foods are important.
Being mindful is the practice of being present in the moment. Being present makes us more aware of our thoughts and emotions and helps to reduce our worries and negative thought patterns. In addition, mindfulness can help to improve concentration and productivity to increase mental clarity. Practicing mindfulness can be easily done by meditating or deep breathing.
Connections with others
Spending quality time with friends and family – or furry friends provides social support and a sense of belonging. Physical touch releases oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone’ and lowers cortisol which reduces the negative impact of stress in the body. Positive social interaction is also a healthy distraction from stress and can promote relaxation. Just a reminder that it is also important to create boundaries and learn to say no or you could cause yourself additional stress.
Self-care is taking the time out to focus on your own self. You can do the activity that you enjoy and more importantly healthy to your body, including going on a nice walk, reading a good book, or getting an afternoon nap. By prioritising yourself, your overall health and quality of life can be improved. It is difficult to take care of others if you are not taking care of yourself first.