Stress is an everyday fact of life. You can’t avoid it. Stress is any change that you must adjust to. You experience stress from three basic sources: your environment, your body, and your thought.
Often the reaction to stress is a ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ response. When the stimuli coming in are interpreted as threatening, the regulating centers give the body information to speed up in preparation to confront or escape the threat. Your pupils become larger so you can see better, and your hearing becomes acute. Your muscles tense to deal with the challenge. Blood pulsates through your head so that more oxygen reaches your brain cells stimulating your thought processes. Your heart and respiratory rates increase, blood drains from your extremities and pools in your trunk and head, while your hands and feet feel cold and sweaty.
If the body is not given relief from the biochemical changes that occur during the ‘fight or flight’ response, chronic stress may result. This causes wear and tear on the body, and a variety of symptoms may arise. You can’t escape all the stresses of life or completely turn off your innate ‘fight or flight’ response to threat, but you can learn to counteract your habitual reaction to stress by learning to relax.
At Orthopedic & TMJ Physical Therapy Center, we educate through massage, exercises for breathing, stretching and strengthening, posture awareness, and biofeedback to improve your stress management skills.
Tips you can use:
During high-stress situations, do the ‘two-minute body scan’:
- Interrupt your thoughts, stop thinking about your surroundings, and switch your thoughts to your breath. Breathe into your abdomen and exhale slowly for several breaths.
- Scan your body for tense or uncomfortable spots. Attempt to loosen this area up a little.
- Warm your hands momentarily.
- Do a neck rotation exercise turning your chin to each shoulder. Roll your shoulders forward and backward a couple of times.
- Recall a pleasant thought, image, memory, or feeling for just a few seconds.
- Take in another deep breath and return to your activities.