Stress is a situation that leads to a biological response, i.e. the body responds to a specific demand or threat. This unpredictable, life-changing, and unbalanced situation we are all experiencing right now is no doubt leading to some sort of stress, emotional unease, financial worries, and mental dysregulation that is putting us all into “fight-or-flight” mode. Stress could also be in the form of physical stressors, such as over-training and lack of sleep. Stress causes an increase in the levels of cortisol, our stress hormones, which inhibits muscle repair and reduces functioning of the immune system. Therefore, during stressful periods we are more susceptible to illness and have a reduced rate of wound healing. An increase in mental and emotional tension, also results in other physical consequences.
Stress causes the body to be more guarded and therefore leads to inefficient movement patterns which in turn leads to a greater risk of injuries. The stress-injury model is a great example of how stressors, both physical and psychological, contribute to a stress response and when individuals have no or ineffective coping mechanisms, it can further lead to a greater risk of injuries and pain. It was actually found that athletes under psychological stress, injure themselves 2-5 times more frequently and that injury risk is proportional to life stress. During high stress an athlete’s performance is also reduced. With your body in this state of increased threat, your body could respond to it using pain as an “alarm system”. Therefore, if you are in a state of constant stress, your brain is constantly in fight-or-flight mode and more likely to raise your alarms in the form of pain experienced by your body.
Here are some ways in which we can manage our stress:
- LAUGH! Remember laughter is the best medicine, so watch a comedy, do a virtual catch up with some friends or enjoy some fun games with your family.
- Exercise: Remember to try and get your 30min of daily physical activity in. Head over to our post on exercise to learn more.
- Practicing Mindfulness: There are many Apps such as Headspace which could be helpful with this. Or simply using some breathing techniques: Breath in as deep as you can for 2 seconds through your nose, hold your breath for 1 second and breath out for 4 seconds through your mouth. Practice this several times.
- Practice Good Sleep Hygiene: have a look at our previous post on sleep to get some great tips on improving the quality and quantity of your sleep.
- Unplug: Free yourself from your mobile device or screen.
- Spend time in nature: Even something as simple as opening a window can have great benefits. Grow some flowers or herbs in the garden, take a walk outside and realign yourself with nature.
- Social Support: Have a heart to heart with a loved one. Nurture your relationships with your loved ones.
Spend time with your pets. This can have a positive impact on your overall health and wellbeing.
- Get organized: Be proactive, organise your space or your day.
- Eat well: Head over to our post on nutrition to find out more.