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Everything you Need to Know About Stress

What is stress?

We all know the feeling of being stressed, but what actually is it, and why does it happen?

Stress is a normal human physiological response that occurs in everyone when exposed to new or challenging situations. Stress prepares and allows for your body to handle these challenges.

The sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) is stimulated during a stress response and the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest response) is dampened down.1 Our sympathetic nervous system gets the body ready to respond to danger or difficult situations by secreting a hormone called cortisol which may elicit: 1

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension
  • Hyperactivity
  • Withdrawal

Although stress occurs in everyone, each individual responds differently and has a unique experience to stress.

Common causes of stress 2

  • Occupational stressors
  • Financial stress
  • Relationships
  • Parenting
  • Day-to-day stressors
  • Busy schedules

Short-term stress can be positive as it allows for us to be motivated, keeps us alert and prepares your body to avoid any danger. Let’s say you have an important deadline or test that is nearing, a stress response may assist you to concentrate better, stay awake longer and work harder. However, stress can become problematic when you are in that sustained stress environment without periods of relaxation or relief.

Prolonged or chronic stress; where your body is constantly under stress will continue to interfere with your body’s homeostasis, which is the body’s ability to regulate its internal environment. These can lead to sleep dysregulation, stomach ulcers, weakened immune system, heart disease and mental health disorders.1,3

Does this sound like you? 4

  • Tight jaw
  • Restless sleeping
  • Chronic headaches
  • Tight shoulders
  • Neck pain

If so, stress may be getting the better of you! Here’s a few tips on how you can manage your stress…

How can we you manage your stress? 5

  • Relaxation activities such as mindfulness, tai chi, yoga, meditation and breathing exercises
  • Remove or minimise the stressors as much as you can
  • Do something you enjoy
  • Painting, drawing, watching movies etc.  
  • Switching off and taking a break from stressful activities
  • Taking care of your body
  • Eating healthy, getting enough sleep and exercising (at least 30 minutes in duration)
  • Staying positive and acknowledging the enjoyable parts of your day
  • Staying connected with those that make you happy and keep you calm
  • Talking to a therapist or healthcare provider

If you are concerned about the impact stress may be having on your health, it is important to seek further assistance from your healthcare providers.  Reach out to the team at Muna Osteopathy and Wellness to discuss how we may be of assistance to you.  

Written by Dr. Tiffany Lim (Osteopath)