April is Stress Awareness Month so we wanted to provide some tips on managing stress.

The feeling of stress can be pretty obvious most of the time, but it is important to be able to identify the early signs of stress in order to gain control as soon as possible. Some signs and symptoms you might notice when becoming stressed include but aren’t limited to; muscle tightness, shortness of breath, increased fatigue, short temper and headaches. Along with the symptoms listed, there are secondary issues excess stress can cause as well. Some of the secondary issues that come with excess stress include but aren’t limited to; cardiac issues, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and gastrointestinal problems.

Who or what is the one thing that can control the stress in your life?

YOU.

There are many different directions you can go while trying to manage stress. Some that work for others may not work for you which is okay. We are going to cover a few different options and by the end hopefully you will be able to pick and choose which may be best for you. So let’s talk about some techniques or ideas you can utilize for managing your stress levels.

Deep Breathing

Let’s begin with one of the simpler and more easily attainable techniques to help reduce stress, deep breathing techniques.  This technique can be utilized just about anywhere and anytime. For proper deep breathing simply find a quite place, sit comfortably or lie down, close your eyes and take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth “Breathe in the roses, blow out the candles”. Try and do this for about 5-10 minutes when you’re beginning to feel stressed or overwhelmed.  

Diet

As mentioned in one of our previous blogs/videos, diet is an area you can modify to assist in reducing stress as well. Eating a healthy, well rounded diet including all food groups can play a significant role in reducing stress. Foods that can have a negative impact on stress include sugar, complex carbs, excess caffeine and alcohol.

Sleep

Sleep is significantly important when it comes to reducing stress. Your body on average needs about 7-9 hours of sleep per night. By maintaining adequate sleep your body has the opportunity reset itself, sharpen your judgment and think more clearly.

Exercise

Exercising, or even being more physically active plays a vital role in the ability to reduce stress. Not only does exercising or being active in general improve your overall well being, it also increases your body’s production of endorphins. Endorphins are the brains “feel good” neurotransmitters. With that said, there’s no need to over do any kind of exercise in order to reduce stress. Simply going for a walk around the block or even just outside the building you work at during your lunch break can help. 

The Four A’s of Managing Stress

Lastly, we have to remember that stress is a part of life and unfortunately it is not entirely avoidable. So in closing, lets go over the four A’s when it comes to stress. Avoid, Alter, Adapt, Accept.

  • Avoid.  Try to minimize the causes of stress around you by taking control of your surroundings or simply saying no to excess responsibility if possible.
  • Alter.  Take a look at your time management, or simply state that you are frustrated or overwhelmed to colleges, teachers or coaches. 
  • Accept.  Take accountability for maybe procrastinating on a task or begin giving yourself words of encouragement or constructive criticism rather than dwelling on the situation.  .
  • Adapt.  Again, it is good to remember stress is unfortunately a part of life and the causes of stress will only change with age. So it is best to adapt by possibly setting lists and numbering the importance of tasks or adjust your standards and look at the big picture, “will this really matter in a week, a year, etc?”.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post and I hope you learned something. If you have any questions, you can reach out to us on Facebook or leave a comment.

Devin McLaughlin, PTA


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