Are you feeling stressed, maybe even overwhelmed during this lockdown?
Your alarm clock didn’t go off and now you’re late for your 9 AM Zoom meeting, your kids are running racket round the house and the washing is piling in the sink ….arghhh!! Does this sound familiar?
In the current climate stress seems to be even more at the forefront of our day! We are doing more hours in front of our laptops than we did at work, whilst trying to juggle the kids at home with their online home tutoring and other issues we didn’t have to deal with before.
Though short-term stress can be useful, in today’s world it’s not uncommon for many of us to live in a continual, jaw-clenched state with our adrenals in overdrive.
Most people are overstressed and undernourished, which leads to chronic wear and tear on our system, a reduced ability to adapt in positive ways, and more episodes of mental health and balances such as anxiety, depression, and burn out
To put it simply, stress is a reaction that occurs anytime there is a greater demand on our energy across multiple areas than what we have the capacity to give in the moment.
And though not all stress is bad, carrying around heavy emotions, trauma, guilt, and resentment wreaks havoc on our bodies and wellbeing, which can lead to long-term consequences.
In this article we discuss the difference between Good & Bad stress and what we can do to relief bodily stress.
Good Stress vs. Bad Stress
Short-term stress, also known as acute stress, can be positive and even healthy. It can help with any event or emotion that makes you feel frustrated, fearful, angry, or nervous such as a dangerous situation or meeting a deadline.
Acute stress actually enhances much of our ability to navigate short term challenges and changes effectively, including things like improved immune function, increased heart rate, enhanced oxygenation to the body, improved memory, focus, and attention, and so on.
However, when a real or perceived threat continues for longer than approximately 30-minutes, or we are unable to take some appropriate action to resolve it, the chronic stress reaction cycle takes over.
Chronic stress, which is long-term and perceived by the brain as ongoing, turns stress that was initially helpful to harmful, we cannot maintain such high levels of energy output for long periods of time without rest, recovery, and repair.
How Does Stress Get Stuck In The Body?
Everyone deals with chronic stress differently and oftentimes we attempt to push these unwanted feelings out of our awareness by forcefully denying and repressing them. But the longer we bottle them up, the more likely it is that they’ll manifest in some form in our physical bodies.
The mind and the body are intertwined. For example, when the mind perceives stress, the body’s fight or flight response kicks in. In chronic stress, hormones are secreted that have adverse effects on the body’s cardiovascular, neurological, and immune systems.
In order for our body and mind to stay healthy, the emotions and energy within must be in a constant “flow”. When stress and emotions aren’t worked through properly, this energy has nowhere to go and literally gets stuck, intensifies, and stagnates inside the body. In more serious cases, it can lead to diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimers.
How Can We Relieve Bodily Stress?
It’s vital to our mental, physical, and emotional wellness to let go of stress in order to live a healthy life. That said, the million-dollar question is: if it’s stuck, how do we release it? Luckily, there are numerous ways to deal with bodily stress.
Yoga. The combination of physical poses, controlled breathing, and moving meditation help lower blood pressure and heart rate, giving way for a great environment to release stress
Exercise. Exercise is the most common way to relieve stress and help you relax later. It reduces your levels of stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol and stimulates endorphins, which are the body’s natural mood elevators.
We are still allowed to take daily walks. Take this time to take a walk on your own if you need alone time or with your immediate family, this is also important for our kids that are spending countless hours in front of the tv or playing computer games.
Practice cognitive-behavioral skills. At the base of the brain we need to calm the body and nervous system through techniques that soothe the senses and enhance a rhythmic breathing pattern.
Studies have shown that breathing at a pace of about six breaths per minute, or five counts in and five to six counts out, can activate the parasympathetic reaction system responsible for our relaxation response.
Sensory cues. Essential oils, warm water, massages, listening to calming sounds of the ocean, weighted blankets, and gentle physical activity can also help calm the base of the brain and nervous system.
Be aware: Recognise the amount of time you sit infront of the computer and ensure you take breaks. Step away, do some stretches and some breathing exercises.
Restful sleep. Stress and bad sleep can be a vicious cycle leading to even more stress on your body as it needs time to recover from stressful events. Experts suggest adults get at least seven to nine hours of restful sleep each night.
Although the world is practicing social and physical distancing right now, that doesn’t mean we need to socially disconnect.
Studies have shown that feeling isolated and alone is detrimental not just to our physical health but more so to our mental health. That said, practicing strategies that help us feel connected to other people can help us feel happier and in turn, reduce stress.
At Steelextreme, we want to help our community stay mindful at home during today’s difficult times, this is the reason we have created our SEF COMMUNITY GROUP on Facebook. We are offering free online classes 4 times a week, support with nutrition or any other fitness queries you might have.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.