Wellness Osteo

Wellness Osteo

At Wellness Osteo, we are osteopaths who focus on achieving optimal health and wellness, which means treating you and sharing our expertise with you. Read on for the ins and outs of osteopathy.

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Stress

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Stress is an inevitable part of life that we respond and adapt to. Whether its large scale events (think global pandemic) or the daily hassles (think traffic, kids, work, chores), stress is both an emotional and physiological experience. This means stress affects our mood, as well as various bodily systems. 

The effect of stress on our cardiovascular system:

When the brain perceives stress, it ramps up the body’s cardiovascular response. This includes increasing heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure. These are normal processes, however if the body is constantly perceiving stress, then the ramped up response of the cardiovascular system can start to become problematic. Chronically high blood pressure and heart rate can lead to conditions such as stroke and heart attack. This is why health professionals harp on about needing to manage your stress – it’s not just to stabilise your mood, but it’s to help your body’s organs and function. 

The connection between stress and the musculoskeletal system:

As well as increasing your blood pressure and heart rate, stress can trigger the release of extra hormones and chemicals (e.g. cortisol) that impedes cell recovery. This means stress can slow down tissue healing. So if you have an injury, getting treatment and doing your exercises is a great first step, but managing your stress is also important. Further, feeling stressed means we may be less likely to engage in healthy behaviours (such as getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising) which can exacerbate our musculoskeletal problems and delay recovery. 

Some signs and symptoms of stress include:

  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Depression
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Constant worry or anxiety
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Difficult concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of libido 
  • Gut issues including abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and constipation

So how do we manage stress?

  • Healthy eating can improve your mood. Avoiding unhealthy foods can decrease stress on your gastrointestinal and cardiovascular systems.
  • Exercise helps relieve stress by releasing endorphins, decreasing the release of stress-inducing chemicals, and improves one’s resilience.
  • Mindfulness – it’s a word we’ve all been hearing a lot more of recently. It’s helpful because it can reduce the effects of stress, anxiety, insomnia, poor concentration, and low mood. Practising mindfulness can be done with any activity that takes you away from your thinking mind and into your body. E.g. gardening, doing arts and crafts, dancing, breathing, meditating, stretching, or listening to a mindfulness app (such as Smiling Mind, Calm, and Headspace). 
  • Getting good sleep is imperative. Ensure you have good sleep hygiene – this means establishing a routine and going to bed at similar times each night, unwinding before bed, reducing screen time, and ensuring you’re in a clean, calm, and comfortable environment. 

Sometimes all of these steps sound easier said than done. Or they’re obvious but it’s just hard to put them into action. Some helpful tips include:

  • Establish a routine – you’re more likely to eat well and exercise when you’ve carved out time in the week to make this happen. Even if you’re having an off day, having a routine means you are more likely to stay on track. 
  • Plan enjoyable exercise – that might mean doing it with friends, doing a group class, or engaging in activities that bring you joy (dancing, cycling along the coast etc).
  • Go easy on yourself – we all have down days. It’s ok to take time out for yourself. And engaging in just 10 minutes of exercise is better than none! 
  • Aim for ‘incidental exercise’ where you can – this might mean walking to the shops instead of driving, taking the stairs instead of an elevator, and getting off your train or tram one stop earlier to walk home. 

Remember, there is always support available if stress is affecting your quality of life. Reaching out to services such as Beyond Blue, Black Dog Institute, and Life Line can be useful. Or chat to your GP about more support options. 

 

Take care of yourself and if you need, the team here at Wellness Osteo are here to help with your musculoskeletal complaints – so that’s one less thing to stress about!