Posted by: Dr Kirstin Holms-Evans / July 26, 2017
Stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the demands being put on us and our ability to cope with those demands. People deal with stress differently, what could be incredibly stressful for one person could be a minor hurdle for another person.
Some people thrive on stress and need some form of pressure to meet deadlines, however stress becomes a problem when it causes a person distress.
Stress can be accountable for many issues that can occur to the body i.e. headache, muscle soreness, fatigue, digestive problems, sleep disturbance.
For us the understand stress, first we must look at the nervous system, the autonomic nervous system(ANS) is responsible for all the things that we are not necessarily conscious of; heart rate, breathing, temperature. Within this system there is the sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ aspect this is our survival mechanism and the bodies response to threat or danger, this can include deadlines. It increases the heart rate, slows digestion and releases adrenaline. The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is responsible for rest and digest. It slows the heart rate and allows blood to return to the digestive tract.
So how does this affect our bodies?
Well, the modern-day stress is not necessarily a deadly threat but pressure, deadlines and increased demands.
Although many people wouldn’t consider themselves stressed or anything to be stressed about, you do not necessarily be conscious of stress for the body to activate the stress response. For example, if you can’t switch off at night due to going over all the things you need to do can be a symptom of stress.
Due to ongoing stresses that our bodies are enduring; work, responsibilities, family pressure means that we are in a continual state of ‘fight or flight’ mode. This results in poor digestion, increased heart rate and blood pressure, sleep disruptions, muscle stiffness.
To switch off this heightened alert mode, it is important to allow the body to feel safe.
This can be achieved by taking some to concentrate on controlled breathing – yoga, meditation is great for that. Taking long, deep, slow breathes.
Osteopathy can help to elevate some muscular pain and tightness caused by the continual fight or flight response and help to activate the PNS and allow the body to return to a resting state.
If you are showing any signs of being stressed take a few moments to allow your body to feel safe. Go for a walk, take a yoga class and book in to your osteopath.