What is Stress?
Coined in 1936 by Hans Selye, the term “stress” doesn’t always mean what we think it does – nor is it always a bad thing.
Selye defined stress as, “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.” In other words, stress is experienced by the body whether one receives positive news or negative news. For example, a rapidly beating heart and sweaty palms can be experienced whether we are receiving a marriage proposal or facing danger.
When we experience stress our body thinks that it is under attack, releasing a mix of hormones and chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine, often leading to the fight or flight response. These responses are helpful in situations that keep us out of danger, however the problem occurs when our body experiences the physical reactors of stress in inappropriate situations, which can become a hindrance to our lives and detrimental to our health.
In today’s culture, when people talk about being “stressed out”, they are referring to a negative response to pressure and the feelings that come along with that – worry, anxiety, and depression.
The Effect of Stress on the Body
The feeling of stress is unavoidable, but it is controllable. It can happen with positive changes or negative changes. Small amounts of stress can motivate us to achieve our goals and move us forward. However, stress that is sustained over a period of time can contribute to illness, headaches, neck pain, low back pain, or stomach problems, in addition to mental health issues.
Chronic stress releases stress hormones that raise your blood pressure and add fat to your body. Chronic stress may also suppress your immune system, making you more vulnerable to infections and disrupting the body’s ability to heal itself. As a result, stress can have a substantial impact on recovering from injury, directly influencing the healing process.
It is important to pay attention to the things in life that cause us stress (stressors) and learn how to control our responses, rather than letting our stress control us.
Tips for dealing with stress:
1. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine.
2. Get more physical activity.
3. Get more sleep.
4. Try relaxation techniques.
5. Talk to someone.
6. Keep a stress diary.
7. Take control.
8. Manage your time.
9. Learn to say no.
10. Rest if you are sick.
How a Physiotherapist Can Help
Physiotherapists offer a number of stress management techniques and treatments which can help to improve a patient's health and well-being. Exercise is a great stress reliever, and physiotherapy in particular can help decrease stress levels by harnessing your exercise routine to ease and eradicate any pain or health issues that may be contributing to how you feel.
If you are feeling stressed out, we can help. Get in touch today!
The Nepean Sports Medicine Blog