I think we can all agree that the past 18 months have been stressful. Whilst we can go back to work, see friends, socialise, even hug people, do not underestimate the stress that still exists.
Whilst a small amount of stress is necessary long periods of stress, or chronic stress, is harmful. It affects us physically, mentally and emotionally.
Are you suffering with:
- Headaches, tension in the neck and shoulders, dizziness, fatigue, poor sleep?
- Worry, poor concentration, difficulty in making decisions, uncontrollable thoughts?
- Irritability, feelings of being overwhelmed, anxiety, low self-esteem, and depression?
- Aggressive or defensive behaviour, avoiding situations, poor communication, drinking too much alcohol or smoking?
All these are symptoms that you may be suffering with stress. Learning to manage stress and practising relaxation is fundamental, with the key word being practising!
When we incorporate relaxation in our daily routine (just 5 minutes a few times a day is all it takes) we gain the following effects:
- Decreased heart rate and respiration (breathing) rate.
- Lowered blood pressure and increased blood flow.
- Decrease in anxiety, depression and insomnia
- Relaxed muscles.
- A boost in energy and better sleep patterns.
- A calmer and clearer mind, helping positive thinking, concentration, memory and decision making.
- Improved digestion (we absorb essential nutrients more efficiently when relaxed).
- Supported immune system.
- Reduced stress hormones activity.
In general, relaxation techniques involve refocusing your attention on something calming and increasing awareness of your body. Remember that relaxation techniques are skills which will improve with practice. Be patient with yourself, and don’t let your efforts to practice become yet another stressor.
Some Relaxation Techniques:
Breathing. Learning to control breathing will help the body take in more oxygen, which helps to relieve anxiety, slow heart rate and stabilise blood pressure.
Meditation. There are several different forms of meditation that encourage positive body awareness and a sense of peace.
Yoga. This popular practice combines postures with breathing exercises. Not only does yoga help to relax the mind, but it also improves your flexibility, muscle tone and balances the systems within your body.
Tai Chi and Qigong. These two practices both use their own distinct movement sets. They’re great for light exercise, improving circulation and gaining a strong sense of energy.
Progressive muscle relaxation. By tensing and releasing muscle groups gradually, you can become more aware of how your body feels when stressed or relaxed, and develop strategies to more actively handle stress-related tension.
Visualisation. By imagining a relaxing setting and focusing on its details, it becomes easier to eliminate stressful thoughts and focus on calming the physical body.
Mindfulness. Take a gentle walk being mindful of your surroundings, keep your focus on the plants, the trees, the clouds…
Looking after your health has never been more important than now so please be reassured that we are still able to treat you. We have all the necessary safety precautions in place.
This article is by Karen Robinson, our Clinical Director.