physiotherapy – stress management

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what are the causes of stress?

Content is medically reviewed by:

Shruti Bangera, Masters In Neurological Physiotherapy, Senior Physiotherapist & SME, Portea

We are all living in extremely stressful times. In spite of the conveniences that modern technology has brought about, our lifestyle is becoming more and more chaotic and stressful. Stress in the workplace also contributes to this to a great extent. 

Though at times stress is useful to nudge us in the right direction, but not always so. Prolonged stress or recurrent bouts of it, can cause and aggravate existing health problems like:

  • Cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke, etc. 
  • Eating disorders.
  • Skin and hair problems like eczema, permanent hair loss, acne, etc. 
  • Gastrointestinal problems like colitis, irritable colon, gastritis, etc. 
  • Mental health problems like depression, anxiety, personality disorders, etc. 
  • Deficiencies of the immune system. 
  • Cognitive deficiencies.
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping. 
  • Persistent headaches. 

what are the symptoms of stress?

The emotional and physical are the two types of stress vary from person to person and depend on the severity of the symptoms. Some of the most common signs to look out for include:

Physical signs:

  • Feeling overwhelmed all the time.
  • Feelings of losing control or the need to take control.
  • Extreme moodiness.
  • Difficulty in relaxing your mind.
  • Avoiding social interactions.

Emotional signs:

  • Headaches
  • Persistent body pains.
  • Chest pain and increased heartbeat.
  • Feeling fatigued.
  • Frequent colds and infections.
  • Dry mouth and difficulty in swallowing.
  • Tightness in the jaw.
  • Indigestion and acid reflux symptoms.
  • Increase in or the loss of appetite.

If left untreated, stress leads to problems that can have serious health complications. Also, the cost of treating stress once it has become chronic is much more than what it would be when it is in its nascent stages. 

If you feel any of these symptoms occurring and affecting your daily life, it is important that you consult with your doctor immediately. 

how can stress be managed?

While it is not possible to ‘treat’ or do away with stress completely, it is certainly possible to manage its symptoms and in turn its debilitating effects on our mind and body. 

Besides methods like medicines that induce sleep and relaxation of muscles, talking treatments like cognitive behavioural therapy, and mindfulness-based stress reduction, physiotherapy is vital for stress management. 

how does physiotherapy help in managing stress?

There are several evidence-based studies that prove the benefits that physiotherapy has on stress and its manifestations on our body. Some of the most important benefits include:

  • Being physically active improves the way the body handles stress by changing our hormonal responses like releasing endorphins and adrenaline that help in mood elevation. It also helps in reducing sensitivity to stressors.
  • It induces relaxation that in turn improves sleep quality.
  • Physiotherapy helps in improving self-esteem, self-worth, and overall quality of life. 
  • It helps in reducing physical symptoms of stress like slowing down your heart rate, the flexibility of the muscles, helping with chronic pains and nausea, etc. 

which are the best physiotherapy methods for stress management?

There are several proven physiotherapy stress management techniques that help as stress busters and our ability in coping with it. Some methods include:

  • Aerobic exercises: These exercises can help reduce stress, help one feel exhilarated, and improving endurance. These stimulate the production of endorphins that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators. 
  • Breathing exercises: Controlled and rhythmic breathing leads to relaxation, mindfulness, and dissipation of stress. 
  • Deep muscle relaxation: Deep tissue massages help in loosening tight muscles, clenched jaw, and stiff joints and have a great impact on releasing tension.
  • Meditation: This is said to lower the heart rate, blood pressure, and skin’s temperature, and reduce the adrenaline levels in the blood. 
  • Stretching: Stretching exercises like yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi help in loosening stiffness in the joints and muscles, and inducing relaxation. it is more effective when we do it in morning sunlight.
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